Monday, April 21, 2008

Vampire Weekend - S/T

preface:
JK said: April 18, 2008 at 1:33 pm
I am going to post an anti-VW rant on Flying Houses. I have not listened to them, really. Maybe i will buy their album and review it. they seem like the shins to me.

prologue:
I bought the album that night, amidst a rather bizarre encounter that never necessitated words. Vampire Weekend is the #1 seller at Amoeba Music. It was the night before Record Store Day. Jello Biafra was at the Amoeba Music in San Francisco, but nothing all that interesting appeared to be going on at the L.A. Branch, but maybe I am vastly mistaken and went shopping 12 hours earlier than I should have.

I also bought These New Puritans debut album Beat Pyramid and Superchunk's self-titled debut, which will be reviewed next for reasons of comparison. Superchunk are a legit indie rock band. Vampire Weekend could very well be the next Arcade Fire, though I do not think they are going to catch on in such a big way. These New Puritans are probably better.
Without futher ado...

review:

Okay, you can now officially add my name to the list of people that thinks Vampire Weekend sucks. Or, you can add my name to the list of people that is jealous of them. Or, the list of people that thinks they are insanely lucky. Or, the list of people that thinks they are o.k., and kind of like their single, but aren't exactly blasting it out of their car and relishing every line that can be sung along to. Someone posted a comment in Justyn's blog calling it "the sound of cowardice," and I feel that is in apt description--you wouldn't want to blast this music out of your car for the same reason you shouldn't put an NYU bumper sticker on your car--someone will key it.

There are like three or four songs I like on this album more than the other six or seven, but of those three or four, two of them might mention Cape Cod. Now, I am going to take issue with the Cape Cod theme of this record because I spent three summers on that elbow-like peninsula during the heart of my adolescence. I took sailing lessons there and tried to work on an ambitious piece of writing and played many video games and went to the beach and my parents had a house there and they did nothing there except eat lobster and sit outside in the warm summer air. Now, in an environment that is as close to a hypercultural "void" as can exist (Nantucket being the only greater example of this locale that is, overrun by the fiscal elite, outsnobbing every bourgeois town in the country, and completely devoid of worthwhile contemporary culture), Vampire Weekend has established themselves as the first band of preppies to wear their image on their sleeves.

I grew up with these people and they are probably perfectly nice but they are certainly not punks! Maybe they are punkish in their everday life, but it is highly possible that I may have been in the same sailing school as any of these band members and nobody (except for the one kid who used to sing "Lake of Fire" over and over while we were out on the water) had any anti-establishment aspirations whatsoever! If you are in a band, you must be interested in destruction. "A-Punk" is an interesting title. It goes without saying that it is the best song on the album, but it is calling attention to the word "punk," thereby equating their generic indie pop sound with its earlier and more nihilistic punk roots. But the music supposedly has "African" roots! What, do they want to be like Talking Heads part II or something? While listening to this album, a friend pointed out that they were playing with Paul Simon in Central Park this summer, and then pointed out that the next track was a total "Graceland" ripoff. Now, I don't listen to much Paul Simon, so I don't know about that, but if Paul Simon is even a more obvious referent for this band than Os Mutantes, they really should not be calling any of their songs "A-Punk."

There's a million ways you can diss this band, and I think I've done enough. They're not offensive. They're pleasant music to play in the background as you invite friends over for a drink to catch up on the recent happenings in your lives. But they are not music I want to blast, or sing along with, or learn to play along with (maybe I will try to learn how to play "A-Punk" just so I can "rip it off" and have a radio-ready single for my first album), and maybe I am just crazy but that wasn't the case with any of those other 2002 buzz bands I mentioned in earlier post about TNV.

I continue to love !!! and would prefer to seem live any day over Vampire Weekend. Both will play the Pitchfork Festival, and that is shaping up to be the premiere concert event of the year. I must go, and I will try to see VW and review their set (along with everyone else's) and I'll be able to stand through it without getting too bored, I think, but I'm way more excited to see Dinosaur Jr., Mission of Burma, Jarvis, Atlas Sound, Spoon, Les Savy Fav...I think Vampire Weekend will stick around and all their band members will be able to make a successful career out of it, but I think they're getting off rather easy.

2 comments:

democore said...

Just because they have a song with the word "punk" in their title doesn't mean that they are trying to be punk, and I certainly don't think that anyone in just any band is interested in destruction. Then again, I haven't a CLUE why they chose that particular title for that song.

Besides, every band in NYC wants to be Talking Heads. Hell, I STILL do.

JK said...

You miss my point. They are misappropriating punk by using the very word. It's a swindle. People look at a tracklist and think they're something they're not.

No, anyone in just any band is not necessarily interested in destruction, but they should be. Unless they're going to "carry on the grand tradition..." and be as good as bob dylan or leonard cohen or lou reed, (or paul simon in this case) or whatever b-s they think they're capable of.

they're meaningless and they're getting off scot-free! Why isn't XYZ affair getting little more than a tiny mention in popmatters video section? They're older. They're similarly innocuous. They're nearly as attractive. Perhaps they are not as streamlined and perfect in their limitations. still i think half the songs on VW S/T are filler. well-recorded filler, but filler.