Everybody’s favorite east coast Jewish-American afro-pop quartet, Vampire Weekend, accomplishes a few things – perhaps more than they might have aspired – with Contra, their second full-length album. After keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij worked out some music management kinks last summer with his collaborative pool-party-mix triumph (Discovery – LP), Vampire Weekend’s sound as a full ensemble hits the ears of longtime fans as something abnormally fresh and worthy of stationary break-dancing. But Contra caters to the new listeners seeking a decent place to start too. With tracks like “Cousins” and “Holiday,” novices to the witty foursome can witness VW ever-so-subtly hark back to the catchy lineup of overly repetitive riffs and beats that was their self-titled debut. Fortunately for defenders of independent music, this band’s sound has shifted to the point of deserving a dignified double take.
Shamelessly depicting such nuisances as melodramatic Nietzsche-crazed youths in “Giving Up The Gun” and the paradoxes of modern college students psyche in “California English”, lead singer Ezra Koenig coolly sidesteps the hallowed sophomore slump curse as any forward-thinking songwriter would. Koenig relishes in his past follies, makes them intimate and personal – only now can he mock and poke fun without losing self-worth. The occasional voice cracks of “Run” and the boyish shrieks and swoons of “White Sky” add to the comforting idea that growing up is not the same as accepting boredom and dull ennui.
Rostam Batmanglij seems nonplussed with his band-mate’s new direction and certainly has plans of his own concerning track arrangement, instrument selection, and even unexpected cross-genre influences (“Diplomat’s Son” features an M.I.A. sample that cleverly fills the soundscape between Koenig’s verses). Much like a musical Kurt Vonnegut, Batmanglij boldly unveils new aspects of his creative style without reinventing his art to the point of disassociation. He defiantly recommences the old signature marimba base beats that earned the band much negative feedback from the critical “authorities” of the day; yet display VW’s deep respect for some of the world’s most sincere music – West African percussion.
Despite being dubbed the “whitest band” two years ago (by none other than the founder of Stuff White People Like, Christian Lander), Vampire Weekend lashes back after a brief hiatus of recharging and realignment with Contra, a track list more like the intersection of experience and fun than the straight-as-an-arrow highway that forms most sophomore efforts. Who needs music industry guidelines anyway?
Vampire Weekend has recently disclosed some details about their forthcoming album, Contra. You may have actually seen this preppy blonde photo floating around the blogosphere as of late, not knowing what it was. Or not. Either way, it will be the cover art for the new record which will be released on Jan. 12th through XL. Along with the cover art, the band has also released the tracklist. The one song on there that might actually mean something to any of you would “White Sky”, which they first unveiled live on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Although it according to what frontman Ezra Koenig told Entertainment Weekly, it might sound quite a bit different. “The recorded version is very different from how we played it on Fallon,” said Koenig. “The real version is more like how we’ve been playing it live. There’s a lot of synth sounds, and it’s a little more pumped up.” No music has been shared with us yet, but I’ll fill you in once I get the chance to hear it. Here is the tracklist and a couple of Canadian tour dates coming up.
2. White Sky
4. California English
5. Taxi Cab
8. Giving Up the Gun
9. Diplomat’s Son
10. I Think Ur A Contra
October Canadian Dates
10-06 Montreal, Quebec – Le National
10-08 Toronto, Ontario – Horseshoe Tavern
Wes Miles, the lead singer for Ra Ra Riot, and Rostam Batmanglij, the keyboardist for Vampire Weekend, have teamed up to form an indie pop super group called Discovery. Their debut album, LP, is set to hit stores July 7th. For a sample of what’s come check out their first single, “Orange Shirt.” It sounds more like something you’d hear hear out to the club w/ all your frat buddies, but with a little more class, than something you would hear coming out of the indie kid’s basement. I’m diggin it, but I’d love to hear what you guys think. Are you excited to hear the rest of it, or do you wish they had spent this time working on the next Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot albums.
Hello I Hope Your Ears Bleed world!My name is Alex “Ceach” McEachin and I have been blessed to begin a new series entitled “Lessons from Late Night” in which I will review notable performances that take place on the many late night shows.
In this inaugural post I would like to draw attention to the newest late night show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.I have begun following his show closely after taking over for the legendary Conan O’Brien.I have honestly been pretty impressed with how well he has assumed this new role. I love how he has gone to great lengths to become relevant by embracing all of the new cultural and technological norms such as Twitter and Facebook (although it seems the show tries too hard at times). And I am especially impressed with the musical guests he has been able to line up thus far.The debut show, that aired March 5, 2009, included the legendary artist Van Morrison in which he played “Sweet Thing.”The two performances I would like to highlight are Glen Hansard of The Frames performing a cover of “Hair Shirt” by R.E.M. on March 12, 2009; a very intimate performance of a man and his Mandolin.The second is Vampire Weekend on March 18, 2009 debuting a brand new song, “White Sky.” This song will be included on their new album that will hopefully be released this coming fall.I bring attention to each of these notable performances so that you may venture over to hulu.com and watch them for yourselves.
We have embedded the March 18th episode so that you can watch the Vampire Weekend performance right here, right now. This is truly one of the best late night performances I have ever seen. For those of you who have been living underground for the past year and have yet to hear their debut album, you must go out and get it immediately. You won’t be disappointed. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a video with just their performance, so what you have here is the entire episode. But if you want to jump straight to Vampire Weekend’s performance, just click on the second to last white dot at the bottom of the video. Unfortunately the Van Morrison performance is no longer available, but if you head over to hulu.com, you can find the Glen Hansard performance and many more. I hope they bring you as much joy as they brought to me.I hope your ears bleed and maybe even your eyes a little with these amazing performances. More to come soon.