Monday, October 06, 2008

Vampire Weekend

Another over-hyped next big thing, I steadfastly refused to bite, just on general principles. I finally relented when my brother (whose taste I tend to share) jumped on the bandwagon. But even then, after listening to a few songs, I wasn't convinced, and put it aside. But I accidentally stumbled upon it again during a rare use of the iPod shuffle feature, and whatever had evaded my attention on first listen managed to catch up with me. So count me in, at least for now. (No promises that I'll be listening to this a year ago; it's got that idiosyncratic novelty ambience about it that suggests a fleeting passion.)

In case you managed to miss the hype, Vampire Weekend are another in a long line of clever, cerebral collegiate bands just a bit too musically and lyrically playful for their own good (think the Shins or Sufjan Stevens). But where most indie rock bands draw from the well of the Velvet Underground or Big Star (or R.E.M. or Wire), these guys sound like they spent an awful lot of time with Paul Simon's Graceland or the Police's Regatta de Blanc (with a healthy dose of They Might Be Giants or maybe early Talking Heads). Angular hipster rock with a reggae/afro-beat, at times conjuring up thoughts of Interpol if they'd tried ripping off Bob Marley instead of Joy Division. All of which sounds like the makings of a very, very bad record. Yet their self-titled 2008 debut is a load of engaging fun. Maybe not worthy of the hype (or, for that matter, the anticipated backlash), but definitely an enjoyable and somewhat fresh-sounding way to spend a half hour or so.

Incidentally, the video for "A-Punk" serves as a pretty definitive litmus test -- love this, you'll like the band; hate this, best to just move on.

This one for "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" isn't nearly as good -- much more MTV 80s style than anything else -- but great song."


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