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Friday, May 8, 2009

Music Review of Vampire Weekend's Self-titled Album

Vampire Weekend” are an American four-piece indie band from New York that was formed in 2006. There are four members in Vampire Weekend, which include Ezra Koenig (Lead Vocal and Guitar), Rostam Batmanglij (Guitar, Keyboard and Backing Vocal), Chris Tomson (Drums and Backing Vocal) and Chris Baio (Bass and Backing Vocal). Vampire Weekend’s music genre are mostly indie pop and a little bit of African music influence, which is called Afro-pop. It’s very obvious in their music that they don’t belong to any rock genre. Many people would have wondered how they have decided on their band being called Vampire Weekend, it’s a question to be answered. According to LimeWire Music Blog, Vampire Weekend was derived from one of Ezra’s amateur films, which was also of the same name. You’ve guessed it.

Vampire Weekend is something you don’t hear everyday. If you’re looking for something fresh, something friendly to the ears, something cute, then you’re at the right place. You’ll love Vampire Weekend.

Vampire Weekend is really cute at “Mansard Roof”. Some non-stop drum beats, clever percussion, catchy and cute guitar hooks. There were some moments that their guitar playing styles reminded me of The Strokes. Mansard Roof is a very short song, but it will definitely haunt you in a good way. After listening it for the first time, i always i always hit “previous” button. Reason? Mansard Roof is suitable for anyone at anytime.

Oxford Comma” has a catchy and steady drum beats to it. It’s a song that will surely but slowly grow into you. And what i found out was that, this song is actually a very good song to sing along. Imagine you’re having a karaoke session with your friend, Oxford Comma would definitely be a darling for anyone to sing. It’s not a fast track where anyone couldn’t catch their breath when singing, and it’s not those tracks that require high pitching voices. During the break of this song, the guitar solo was cute yet great. I found myself smiling whenever that part comes along. “Lil’ Jon, he always tells the truth..” I’m having Vampire Weekend Comma.

A-Punk” is a fast track. The guitar on this track is fast and definitely piercing. I can’t really imagine myself playing guitar on A-Punk. It’s like you couldn’t stop even for a second! There was an instrument that sounded like a flute, or even organ, or even some DJ equipments everytime Ezra went, “Look outside at the raincoats coming, say OH…” in a repetition manner. And it’s really good. From the lyrics, i’m guessing that Vampire Weekend are singing about a girl whose lover is no longer around. A cute and fast track which can’t be missed.

Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” is somewhat similar to Oxford Comma. It started off slow and soft, later on when it picked up the tempo. It’s not loud, just that it sounds much fuller in its music. If you listen carefully, you’d realize the numerous instruments being played in this song. But Vampire Weekend just made it sound so simple, and so good to listen too. Being not so familiar with the African sound and don’t really know how it sounds like. Somehow, i can feel that this song has the African influence mixed with the Western Modern music, making it one of the memorable tracks on Vampire Weekend. Oh you know the part that i like? It’s when Ezra sang in the chorus, “But this feels so unnatural, Peter Gabriel too..” I love it even more when Ezra did it twice. And oh ya, the cello in Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa would sound better even if compared to a bass. Yet again, everyone would definitely love this track, from young to old, girls to boys. Magnificent! The ending part where you’d find the whole Vampire Weekend moaning in a melody-like voices and howls, it’s simply too good!

M79" got me thinking that this would be a really great rock tune. However i was proved wrong, not only it was not a rock song. It was a track with really cute music that leveraged on the instruments like violin and violin, which would normally be seen or heard in an orchestra performance. But this time, you have it in Vampire Weekend. It’s really amazing to see a four-piece indie band from New York capable of writing and producing such instant hit and classic. Just imagine playing this track in a prom, i think the crowd would appreciate that the fact M79 is neither a rock song nor love song. It’s just a fun song with really good music for everyone to enjoy. I can’t help myself but imagining what would it be like to have M79 included in The Sound of The Music or even Mary Poppin. Definitely a song that will be remembered for a long long time. Oh ya, even my parents find M79 gorgeous!

Campus” is another really catchy song with some clever lyrics. The bass keeps repeating in the verses and when it comes to the chorus, “How am I supposed to pretend, i never want to see you again, how am I supposed to pretend, i never want to see you again…” The guitar playing style which really resembles The Strokes’, was on again. But this time is louder than those of Mansard Root. Not only that, it has some electronic elements to it which made it stand out as well. The fact that i like this song is that i find it really has some good music going on and it really blend in well with the singing.

Bryn” started off with some really high pitched guitar sounds accompanied with steady drum beats. The longer i got into Bryn, the more i love Bryn. Throughout the whole track, the guitar can only be heard after both verses. And there were some instruments being played in the background in a constant note and key, my guess would be an organ. Somehow, i don’t know why, but it keeps bugging me to think that the sound of the guitar found in Bryn is similar to the sound of a Bagpipe.

Vampire Weekend continued with “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)”. This track has some disco/club feel with it. The drum beats on this track is somewhat like those you’d hear in a march. Sound kind of patriotic. The real thing is that when listening to this song, my mind tells me as if i were in a club or disco, just chilling and dancing. The rest of the Vampire Weekend did a good job as well where they did a backup vocal whenever Ezra sings at the chorus, “Blake’s got a new face..” But hey, at times i really do sing “Blake’s got a new face” in the shower, in my bedroom or even driving. Such a powerful phrase!

I Stand Corrected” has a fairy tale feel-like at the beginning and it started slow. And honestly, it sounded like “Little House of Savages” by The Walkmen. The beginning of these both songs are so similar. Overall, it sounded like a sad song. The tempo began to pick up when the chorus came in, “I stand corrected..” The break has a really sad sound to it when Ezra went, “Lord knows I haven’t tried, i’ll take my stand, one last time, forget the protocol, i’ll take your hand, right in mine.” Accompanied by the violin, i can feel the sadness in this this song. One of the songs that let me feel in.

Before the last track, “Walcott” has some really strong and fast piano going on. And no, this is not the player of the football club, Arsenal. It has got nothing to do with Theo Walcott. It’s just a song named Walcott. From the lyrics, i can tell that Ezra is singing about a desperate boy named Walcott who is desperately wanting to get out of Cape Cod, or rather, hoping to get out of Cape Cod. There are some evil lyrics to be found in Walcott, “The Lobster’s Claw is sharp as knives, evil feasts on human lives, the Holy Roman Empire roots for you.” Sound evil enough? One of Vampire Weekend’s strengths is definitely their creativity!

The normal Vampire Weekend album ends with “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance”. It’s a rather slow and catchy track and you can hear the drums echo here and there throughout the whole track, as mentioned earlier. It’s really not that bad, and most people would not have noticed it. The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance has a slow but catchy bass at the beginning. I like the guitar, it sounded sloppy and lazy. Just nicely suit the tempo of this track. Organ and violin can also be heard here and there, making this song more than just great. The last 1:48 minutes was pure instrumental, and need i say more? It’s perfectly played and arranged! Especially the violin.

Rating: Vamipre Weekend is definitely a band to watch out for in the years to come. They are one of the few bands that created and added new sound to their music. Compared to those being played on the radio and even TV, Vampire Weeked stand out in miles. :-) Everything sounded fresh on Vampire Weekend. From start to finish, they were just having fun and playing some really awesome and amazing tunes. Before this, i thought they were just another indie band with nothing new to offer, but they proved me wrong, big time. :-) It’s really very seldom that we stumble upon such band. As musicians, they really have awed me from head to toe. And as listener myself, it’s really an once in a blue moon occasion where i listened to something that i have never listened to before in my circle of genre. However, the only thing that is preventing Vampire Weekend from being a perfect album is that they lack a hit anthem. Franz Ferdinand had their hit anthem when they released their debut, it was called “Take Me Out. Arctic Monkey’s very own anthem from their debut was “A Certain Romance”. But that’s not going to stop me from looking forward to listen to Vampire Weekend every morning upon waking up from my bed. You might say that i’m crazy, but i’d still listen to Vampire Weekend no matter what, everyday. An amazing band that added new music influence from other continent to their music, definitely one of the best album in 2008. 8.5 out of 10 may be too high of a rating, but honestly, they deserve more.

Stand-Out Tracks (My Picks) Mansard Roof, Oxford Comma, A-Punk, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, M79, Campus, Bryn, One (Blake’s Got A New Face), Walcott and The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance.

Darren Tan


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