Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vampire Weekend

When I first saw the music video for Vampire Weekend's first single "Mansard Roof," I was paid little attention to the music and more to the preppy look of the band members, with their popped collars and boat shoes, sailing around on a yacht. On second viewing, I heard the catchy song from the group of recent Columbia grads. The songs on their self titled debut all follow the same trend: simple, hip, and catchy as hell. The group owes a lot to African rock music and Paul Simon's "Graceland" album, as it blends whispy guitar lines with the steady drumming characteristic of West African pop. Aside from the afore mentioned "Mansard Roof," there is the bouncy "A-Punk" which is guaranteed to make you bop along as you listen. The track "Oxford Comma"(not FCC clean) however is my favorite. Lead singer Ezra Koenig's lyrics about someone else's' perceived superiority fits perfectly with the band's preppy East Coast attitude, yet it's not something that you particulary mind when lost in the steady rhythm of the song. Vampire Weekend gained a quick and rabid following online after a CD-R demo of theirs hit the blogosphere. With this will come the inevitable backlash that hit other blog bands such as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Cold War Kids, and Tapes n Tapes. But for now, Vampire Weekend can rest on the easy knowing they have a satisfying album on the books.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Just a few years ago, Chan Marshall a.k.a. Cat Power was in a bad place. Instead of being treated to the haunted voice of the singer they heard on the albums, fans at Cat Power concerts got an already drunk, disheveled Marshall that could hardly stand up. In 2006, she returned with The Greatest, a soulful album that saw Marshall sober and at her peak. Jukebox, her latest effort finds Marshall not covering, but reinterperating the songs that matter most to her yet again (she did it first on 2000's The Covers Record) Listening to her covers of Sinatra's "New York" and Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man" (here "Ramblin' (Wo)Man), you'll forget that someone else made them famous. Marshall's recovery from addiction is best seen in her uplifting cover of Bob Dylan's "I Believe in You." Though Dylan wrote it about his new found faith in God, Marshall sings it as a song of redemption and recovery. After just my first listen, I knew this album was great, but after a second, I can without hesitation say Jukebox is the first great album of 2008.