Category Archives: vampire weekend

top ten albums of 2010

by Gordon

 

10. CONGRATULATIONS by mgmt

 

Flash Delirium [LISTEN]

While not as altogether catchy as their breakthrough Oracular Spectacular, it’s every bit as weird, and ultimately, as daring. Though a letdown on certain levels, you have to give it to the band for their genre-bending approach.

FULL REVIEW

 

9. INFINITE ARMS by band of horses

On My Way Back Home [LISTEN]

It doesn’t knock you out on first listen. Infinite Arms grows on you, reminding you of what makes Band of Horses a great band, be it the soaring vocals of Ben Bridwell, their undeniable melodies, or, less tangibly, the subtle way the music takes you to a quiet place just between childhood and last night.

FULL REVIEW

 

8. ODD BLOOD by yeasayer

O.N.E. [LISTEN]

Part Animal Collective, part Of Montreal, brand new and yet somehow reminiscent of an era that’s passed, it’s all come to be what is unmistakably Yeasayer, and I welcomed a heavy dose this year.

FULL REVIEW

 

7. THIS IS HAPPENING by lcd soundsystem

I Can Change [LISTEN]

This universally acclaimed third and purportedly final album from Murphy serves as an upbeat celebration of the end of a decade, while still encapsulating the sometimes introverted thoughtfulness that’s stood out in the artist’s previous work as well. Let’s hope he has more to say in the years to come.

FULL REVIEW

 

6. CONTRA by vampire weekend

Giving Up The Gun [LISTEN]

Proving that the earlier success of these four young New York City lads was no fluke, Contra serves up another dose of of African pop-meets-Western culture, but this time with even more boldness and purpose in direction.

FULL REVIEW

 

5. THE AGE OF ADZ by sufjan stevens

I Walked [LISTEN]

Do I wish Stevens, who for almost a decade has remained one of the most inspiring and sometimes life-changing artists for my generation, had combined the best of Adz and his recent EP All Delighted People to create an even better new release? Yes. But Adz is still undeniably an amazing record, grander in scale, scope and sound than anything yet from the quiet young Michigan native with a banjo.

4. GO by jónsi

Boy Lilikoi [LISTEN]

It’s Sigur Rós on Four Loko. With tighter compositions, fuller soundscapes, and just as much imagination as ever, you  need only close your eyes and imagine the other members to ease out of the feeling you’re committing adultery.

FULL REVIEW

 

3. TEEN DREAM by beach house

Walk In The Park [LISTEN]

It’s hard to believe how simple a song can be, or a band for that matter, and still make music magic. Amidst a broad pallette of pace and emotion, Legrand’s vocals leave the strongest aftertaste…soulful, confident, and even in a pop context, always a bit haunting.

FULL REVIEW

 

2. HIGH VIOLET by the national

Afraid Of Everyone [LISTEN]

It’s hard not giving this one the top spot. This is the third consecutive album from the band to be music gold, their instrumental style and lyrical intricasies too complex to merely describe on pen and paper. Singer Matt Berninger and the rest of The National continue to fill a void in contemporary music and culture, one that most of us, sadly, wouldn’t have even known even existed.

FULL REVIEW

 

1. THE SUBURBS by arcade fire

We Used To Wait [LISTEN]

I’m not surpised Arcade Fire would put out the best album of any year. I’m just surprised there’s a band as consistently good as Arcade Fire. Not every song may do it for you. When do they all? But the album’s strength is in its cohesive theme of the modern day, good and bad. And for modern music, it’s simply great.

FULL REVIEW

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CONTRA by vampire weekend

by Sean

Pitchfork: 8.6            Rolling Stone: 4/5            Metacritic: 80            Spin: 4/5

 

Released: January 2010
Tracklisting:
  1. Horchata [LISTEN]

  2. White Sky
  3. Holiday
  4. California English
  5. Taxi Cab
  6. Run
  7. Cousins
  8. Giving Up The Gun
  9. Diplomat’s Son
  10. I Think Ur A Contra

   Vampire Weekend is back with their sophomore release, Contra. By now I think everybody has heard of these “afro-pop”-playing Columbia University grads, for better or for worse. Understandably, there are many that are either sick of hearing about Vampire Weekend, or are just not buying into them. As for Contra, it’s pretty simple. If you liked their debut, you’ll like this. If you think Vampire Weekend are spoiled and talentless, and don’t deserve the praise they’ve been given, well then, I’m not sure why you’re even reading this.

   I was a fan of Vampire Weekend’s debut, although I, like others, grew rather weary of it after awhile. But I had to hand it to them, even if they were borrowing from other genres and artists, this didn’t exactly sound like anything else out today, and it was pretty good. Although I would’ve bet that their next record would be a huge letdown compared to the first, after several listens I’ve gotta say that Contra is equal to, if not better than the self-titled debut. The only problem is, now that we’ve heard Vampire Weekend, we’re not getting the feeling of hearing something different or brand new, and I think this will eventually hurt them.

   Contra opens with “Horchata”, and the lines “In December drinking Horchata/ I’d look psychotic in a Balaclava/ Winter’s cold is too much to handle”. My first thoughts were, “Oh this song sounds perfect for the city winter I’m currently in the middle of”, and “What the hell is Horchata, or a Balaclava”. Thankfully wikipedia helped me decipher Ezra Koenig’s complicated lyrics, but I was not surprised by them, as these type of terms have become typical of Vampire Weekend. “Horchata” builds to a climax of strings and tribal-like drumming, reminiscent of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown”. The Kanye/Vampire Weekend comparisons don’t stop there, but this may be a good thing.

   Auto-tune. I fucking hate auto-tune. As if I didn’t hate most of popular hip hop already, rappers decide to sing over auto-tune, and even ruin what could be decent R&B singers’ voices with this “technology”. Well, Vampire Weekend decide it would be a good idea to make an entire song with auto-tune, “California English”, and you know what, it’s actually not that bad. I wouldn’t call it one of the best songs on the album, but it isn’t the worst either.

   “Cousins” picks up where “A-Punk” left off as the upbeat surf-rock song of Contra. This would be a sure-fire highlight if it wasn’t for the annoyingly idiotic chorus, “Me and my cousins and you and your cousins/ It’s a line thats always running/ Me and my cousins and you and your cousins/ I can feel it coming”. “Cousins” is preceded by “Run”, one of my favorite tracks. Heavy on the synths, which turns out to be maybe the only theme of Contra that differs greatly from the self-titled, “Run” builds up to a strong chorus, and what may even be called a synth jam, which I would compare to some of Beirut’s recent work as Realpeople.

   Contra finishes strong with “Giving Up the Gun”, “Diplomat’s Son”, and “I Think Ur a Contra”. The first of the three-song-run, “Giving Up the Gun”, actually sounds unlike Vampire Weekend’s previous work, and works perfectly in this slot. The self-titled’s closer, “The Kid’s Don’t Stand a Chance” ended up being one of the best from that album. “Diplomat’s Son” and “I think Ur a Contra” don’t quite match it, but they come close, and were definitely solid choices to close Contra.

   Vampire Weekend seems to attract much critical acclaim, while also accumulating a large amount of hate. I would put myself in the middle. They may not deserve the heaps of praise they’ve gotten from the Pitchforks and Rollingstones of the world, but they certainly don’t deserve all of the shit they’ve taken either. If you are one of those haters, at least look past their physical appearance and scholarly history and give the music a chance on its own.

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