Category Archives: Vampire Weekend

Albums of 2010: 15 – 11

11. Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son Of Chico Dusty – Big Boi

Whilst we all wait patiently for the next Outkast album, the supposedly ‘straight’ (musically speaking) one from the duo goes and releases a sprawling, triumphantly batshit album of forward-thinking hip-hop with at least twelve singles on it. Sir Lucious Left Foot… slinks seamlessly from bass-heavy, rib rattlers (‘Shutterbugg’, ‘Daddy Fat Sax’) to sleek, modern-day R&B (the Janelle Monae-assisted ‘Be Still’), via a couple of genuine WTF moments (the orchestral introduction to ‘General Patton’, the icy, steel-pan beats of ‘You Ain’t No DJ’). A refreshing antidote to the rap-by-numbers of Eminem and his ilk.

Best track: ‘Shutterbugg’

12. Plastic Beach – Gorillaz

Any album that opens with an ‘Orchestral Intro’ isn’t going to be a concise and flab-free thirty minutes of music, and so it was with the third album from Damon Albarn’s not-so-cartoon-anymore ‘other’ band, Gorillaz. Sprawling, OTT and thrillingly adventurous throughout, Plastic Beach featured a list of guests even Kanye would balk at, from rappers Kano and Snoop Dogg to old codgers like Mark E. Smith and Lou Reed. It shouldn’t really work and yet somehow Albarn weaves all the disparate strands together like a master, be it making catchy synthpop in the shape of ‘Stylo’, glam rock with ‘Glitter Freeze’ or beautiful laments like ‘On Melancholy Hill’ and ‘Empire Ants’. It may take time to fully get to grips with, but Plastic Beach is their most consistently rewarding album.

Best track: ‘Empire Ants’

13. Contra – Vampire Weekend

It’s easy to sneer at Vampire Weekend. They’re four preppy, well-educated blokes that make precision-tooled guitar pop that works brilliantly at festivals and gets over-played on the radio. Whilst Contra doesn’t quite match their debut for runaway choruses, it’s a bigger, better version of what they do well, with tracks like ‘Run’, ‘Giving Up The Gun’ and ‘California English’ taking the template of bouncing basslines and tightly wound guitar lines but adding a more off-kilter feel to proceedings. Plus, with the beat-heavy opener ‘Horchata’ and the M.I.A-sampling ‘Diplomat’s Son’ they proved that they weren’t afraid to experiment.

Best track: ‘Horchata’

14. Thank Me Later – Drake

It’s hard to feel pity for Drake and yet pity is what he seems to want on this debut album. Fame, money, success, success with women, lack of success with women and a terrible record on Facebook Scrabble all seem to haunt Drake and yet there’s something about his delivery and the way he constructs the songs that make it sound far less woe-is-me then it does on paper. ‘Over’, ‘Up All Night’ (featuring rap’s very own Gaga, Nicki Minaj), ‘Fancy’ and ‘Show Me A Good Time’ are all class A bangers, whilst ‘Fireworks’, ‘The Resistance’ and the incredible ‘Best I Ever Had’ prove that slow-jams need not just be icky sex diaries.

Best track: ‘Over’

15. Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter

Bradford Cox – Deerhunter’s 8ft tall frontman – has been a busy boy in 2010. Not only does he seemingly churn out brand new Atlas Sound albums in his sleep, he’s also helped make one of the most hypnotically odd albums of the year in Halcyon Digest. Whilst it’s predecessor – the excellent Microcastle/Weird Era Continued – wasn’t exactly what you’d call polished, it still maintained a certain amount of production sheen, an element jettisoned here for murky, swampy layers of cheap sounding beats and Cox’s treated vocals. Most of it works a treat, with ‘Helicopter’, ‘Revival’ and the closing Jay Reatard tribute, ‘He Would Have Laughed’, amongst the best things they’ve ever done.

Best track: ‘Helicopter’

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We’re back and so is Robyn!

Cor blimey, we’ve been a busy bugger of late. Latitude was amazeballs, highlights included Wild Beasts, The Horrors, Belle & Sebastian, Jamie Lidell and Vampire Weekend. Lowlights included sunburn, lack of sleep and not being punched in the face by Alice Glass from Crystal Castles.

Anyways, New Music Monday will be happening soon, but for now, we’ve returned to find a brand new Robyn single! This is the ‘proper version’ of ‘Hang With Me’, the ballad version of which appeared on Body Talk Pt1, whilst this sparkly, club-friendly mix will appear on Body Talk Pt 2, which is out in September. Yesssssssir.

Altogether now, “just don’t fall wrecklessly, headlessly in love with me”.

Pointless post about a pointless poll

We love a good list, don’t you? They’re pointless of course, but they’re fun to read and it gets everyone slightly animated. For example:

My favourite films of all time:

1). Weekend At Bernie’s

2). Teen Wolf Too

3). Show Girls

Now, no one can deny that those three films are stone cold classics, but not everyone would put them in that order, which would then start a massive discussion about whether, in fact, due to Elizabeth Berkley’s barnstorming performance, Show Girls should really be at no. 1. Lists are contentious and divisive and this is a good thing.

With that in mind, here is a list compiled by an American radio syndication company, called NPR, of the Top 50 best albums of 2010 so far. Voted for by the people, it puts Gorillaz Plastic Beach album at no. 1, with American bores The National in the runners up spot. Here’s the rest of the top ten, with our expert, one-word review next to each one:

  1. Gorillaz:  Plastic Beach – “SPRAWLING”
  2. The National:  High Violet – “BORING”
  3. The Black Keys:  Brothers – “BLUESY”
  4. Broken Bells:  Broken Bells – “SNOOZY”
  5. LCD Soundsystem:  This Is Happening – “ACE”
  6. Vampire Weekend:  Contra – “PO-FACE”
  7. Beach House:  Teen Dream – “DREAMY”
  8. Mumford and Sons:  Sigh No More – “SHIT”
  9. Spoon:  Transference “COLLEGE”
  10. Sleigh Bells:  Treats – “NOISY”

Seriously, America, come on. Mumford & Sons at no. 8!? We’re not confused because this came out here last year, but just that an album of lightweight folk pastiches aimed at people who shop in Burtons does not a good album make. We would also like to draw your attention to some glaring omissions from your top 10 people of NPR: Flying Lotus at no. 14; Joanna Newsom at 22; Janelle Monáe at 24; Charlotte Gainsbourg at 35 and Laura Marling at 48.

Still, arguing with these results is like railing at the weather; pointless, frustrating and ultimately just ends with you getting pissed on…er…

This was fun, wasn’t it? Pointless of course, but fun.

Apropos of nothing, here’s a new Best Coast track:

Game, set and match

The most immediate track from Vampire Weekend’s recently released Contra album, ‘Giving Up The Gun’, has rightly been chosen as the album’s second single. Seeing as the band are now a number 1 selling act in America, they’ve clearly been given a bigger music video budget and this new five minute clip is pretty special. Directed by The Malloys and featuring guest spots from RZA, a drunk Jake Gyllenhaal, a French Lil Jon and a dorky Jonas brother, it’s a veritable tennis-related feast for the eyes.

Nice blistering forehand at the end there, although her overhead needs some work.

New Musick Monday

Well, what a start to 2010. Last week we took absolutely no risks whatsoever with our album selections and we were rewarded with two top 10 albums. Delphic entered at no. 8 with their debut – fresh from finishing third in both the BBC Sound of Poll, the Brits selection for Critics Choice and Auntie June’s Top Ten bands who sound a bit like New Order – whilst Vampire Weekend crashed in at number 3 with Contra. The latter has since gone from ‘very good’ to ‘officially amazing’ over the past seven days so anyone who hasn’t brought it bloomin’ well should. Charlotte Gainsbourg’s single with Beck did diddly squat, but that’s OK, we forgive you.

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Hidden by These New Puritans

Thanks to the fact that HMV no longer seems to stock CDs, we were thwarted in our attempts to listen to this second album from these pasty faced young whipper snappers. From the reviews we’ve read – and we understand that’s not the same as hearing the music, but it’s the best we’ve got – it’s a massive creative leap from their whiny debut and it will need to be seeing as they came across as repellent little twerps in nearly every interview we read last time round. The clips available online suggest the band have taken a shining to Liars, Massive Attack and Bjork and somehow found a way to weld them together. This is clearly a good thing. The first single, ‘We Want War’, is pretty darn good and can be heard here.

ADD THIS TO YOUR EELS COLLECTION

End Times by Eels

Poor old Mr Eel. First his Dad dies of a heart attack, then his sister commits suicide and finally his mum dies of Cancer. How do we know all this? Not only has he written a brilliant book about it all, but Mr Eel also has a penchant for documenting his life via his music, usually in heart-breakingly detailed fashion. So it is with his new album, End Times, which deals with the ashes of a dead relationship. ‘A Line In The Dirt’ is a fragile, piano lament, whilst ‘Gone Man’ is a sweary hoedown, E’s vocals delivered in that trademark deadpan manner that somehow makes the whole thing even sadder.

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‘Norway’ by Beach House

Oh, you’re going to be hearing a lot more of Beach House because they’re soon to be released new album is, and you heard it here first, one of the best albums of 2010. Yep, already. This single actually came out as a free download a few months ago but it’s now available to buy. That’s right, you can choose to pay 79p for a song that has actually been available for free since November. And they say the music industry don’t know how to deal with the popularity of digital music. Anyways, the song is amazing, the band are amazing and the forthcoming album, entitled Teen Dream, is very much amazing. Enjoy.

New Musick Monday

As 2010 begins it’s slow descent, it’s heart-warming that some things never change. With that in mind, we’ve decided to keep on going with our only regular feature, the hugely successful, New Musick Monday. For those of you who are new to Musick, we basically scour the internet (i.e. go on nme.com and check their weekly new releases page) and bring you all the details about three exciting bits of music. These are usually in the form of two albums and a single, but we have been know to mess with the formula, usually with pretty exciting results. So, who is on our first rundown of 2010?

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Contra by Vampire Weekend

It’s strange that these four young men from New York can cause such rage in certain sections of the music press. Is it because they’re intelligent? Or that they show off that intelligence? Is it their love of African music and the way they interpret it? Is it because they have a tendency to comes across as smug? Would we rather all our bands were stupid and arrogant? So many questions, and yet, in reality, they’re a band that have made one very promising album of catchy, guitar-based pop and are now about to follow it up with another one that expands slightly on their sound without scaring the horses. They’re perhaps not worth all this fretting, and yet at the same time are really very good and jolly well deserve the success that will come their way with Contra. This is a brilliantly tight run through of new single ‘Cousins’ on Letterman.

STREAM THIS ALBUM ON MYSPACE

Acolyte by Delphic

It is a lovely cover isn’t it? This is the debut album by Delphic, who are three criminally serious young men from somewhere in the UK. They finished third on the BBC Sound of 2010 poll and have been tipped for big things by just about every publication under the sun. So, what do they sound like? Well, they’re a little bit Bloc-Party-meets-Klaxons-meets-Cut-Copy-meets-Hot-Chip and the album is produced by Ewan Pearson who has twiddled knobs for people like The Rapture, M83 and Gwen Stefani. As with most debuts it’s a little patchy, but tracks like ‘Doubt’ prove they know their way around a dance/rock hybrid.

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‘Heaven Can Wait’ by Charlotte Gainsbourg

The song with the amazing video gets it’s UK release and what a lovely little ditty it is. Produced by Beck, and featuring the diminutive fellow on backing vocals, it’s all gently rattling percussion and warm organ sounds. Gainsbourg’s sweetly fragile vocals work well with Beck’s only mildly more robust croon and it’s enough to make you forget the dual horrors of Beck’s love of Scientology and Gainsbourg’s recent horror show in Antichrist.

Kissing Cousins

This is the video for Vampire Weekend‘s new single ‘Cousins’. It turns out that this was just a ‘teaser’ or ‘taster’ for their new album, Contra, which is a shame as it’s far more interesting than this. When that familiar guitar figure kicks in at the 45 second mark we felt a strange sense of sadness and disappointment, like when Bambi’s mum died.



The video is much more interesting, what with all the camera work and face-changing technology (well, they use masks, which is probably the least technological aspect about the video, but it sure is fun). It was directed by Garth Jennings, one half of Hammer & Tongs.

Something from the Weekend

Well, this is a lovely surprise. Those kind folk over at Vampire Weekend HQ have decided to allow their fans the chance to download their new single, ‘Horchata’, for free. All you need do is part with your email address. BUT if you’d rather not get lots of emails you’ll never read, why not just listen to it below in this rather handy player type thing.

EDIT: the pissing thing isn’t working! Click here instead.

It’s certainly a bit of a departure, although the basic elements are still in place; lots of love for African rhythms, Ezra Koenig’s slightly befuddling lyrics and a canny way of not really having an obvious chorus but somehow having more than one. Also, there are no guitars, which is hardly experimental, but weird when you think about the debut’s reliance on those spidery guitar lines. It’s also about five songs in one and has clearly been influenced by their keyboardist having a little dalliance with electronica via Discovery. It’s a thumbs up from us!

The Very Best a man can get

As with a lot of new bands these days there’s a very interesting story behind how The Very Best came to be. A few years ago European producers Radioclit were browsing around a second-hand furniture shop when they bumped into Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya. (It’s weird, we were in a second-hand furniture shop this afternoon and all we bumped into was a mounted deer head – true story).

Anyway, their chance meeting has lead to creation of a very interesting trio, whose new album (out next Monday), entitled Warm Heart of Africa, is a wonderfully sprawling mess of steel drums, big beats, synths and Mwamwaya’s distinctive vocals. Guests include fellow lovers of all things African M.I.A and Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend.

This is the M.I.A collaboration, ‘Rain Dance’:

We’re not going to call it ‘world music’, because all music is for the world…ha, ha, can you believe we actually wrote that!?

What about the elephants?

The death of Michael Jackson seems to have brought out the worst in some people. Not only do we have to endure rolling news coverage in which Jean from Tescos gets asked what she thought were the reasons behind his alleged addiction to prescription drugs, but there’s also the tabloid headlines (‘Jackson buried without his brain’ was the low point of today’s coverage). What about the music, man? Well, thankfully Jackson’s hits are still taking up a fair amount of space in the UK top 75. Unfortunately, the great British public chose to buy the new single by Cascada as opposed to ‘Man In The Mirror’, preventing Jackson from having a posthumous number 1, for now at least.

But, what does this magnum opus sound like I hear you cry? Surely, it’s some kind of pop classic to deny ‘Man In The Mirror’? Well, it’s not, it’s this:

It’s too early for Jackson to be turning in his grave, surely?