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Featured Artist: Vampire Weekend

Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Baio, Christopher Tomson, and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend

The combination of my fantastic, Upper West Side Soweto-powered beach weekend and the last two posts over on Stuff White People Like have compelled me to feature Vampire Weekend at long last.  Did Clander’s inclusion of the “Oxford comma” in his latest (hilarious) post have anything to do with the VW song of the same name?  Or was that and the previous rip on Ivy Leaguers and those jealous of them some subliminal attempt to ride VW’s wave of success (I doubt it since Clander doesn’t really need such cheap tricks).  Regardless of Clander’s purpose, these Ralph Lauren sweater and boaters-wearing Columbia grads embody everything white people like.

Vampire Weekend came to their popularity in part because of one of my favorite blogs.  They’ve come full circle more than once already with numerous blogren and critics since then, garnering some pretty significant haters as well as some attention from those who are reading too much and listening too little.  But even the haters can’t deny that these gentlemen can play their instruments.

More important than that, they offer a refreshing melange of trends from the past 60 years of global pop music all the way from David Byrne (check out Ezra’s vocal quality on Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa) to Buddy Holly and Franco Luambo.  They’re clever lyricists, which is more than I can say for the many of the other jacked up wanna-be hipsters trying to make a splash on the New York Indie scene.  If these lyrics reflect privilege, as in “take your passport it’s no trick,” at least these silver spoon monkeys have the sense to poke fun at themselves for it.  Besides, the rich-boy snot dripping from their sweaters is clouding people’s judgment so much that the Village Voice’s rejoinder leveled a devastating critique on VWs more reactionary reviewers: according to the Voice’s Mike Powell, ” A lot can be gleaned about Vampire Weekend from the fact that their most evenhanded assessment to date has come from Teen Vogue.”  Ouch, Mike.  The truth hurts sometimes.

The bottom line is that Vampire Weekend has put out a polished record full of all the irony of scalar cello passages echoing from New England homes juxtaposed with the sweat and fun of 50’s Zairean pop.  My best advice if you haven’t heard this record is to go out and buy it.  If you’re reading this, that means you’ve probably already read too many other reviews from the mixed bag, so don’t listen to it right away.  Let the craze die down, buy some Franco, some Loketo, some Papa Wemba, and some Koffi Olomide, and then come back to Vampire Weekend.  You’ll have a whole new appreciation for them.

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