Hey everyone! The new year brings us a new season of TUiW Radio at SCADRadio.org! Our first show is playing this morning from 8-10 EST right here. You can follow the playlist and get links to some of the tracks right here, so stay tuned! (P.S.: Disregard the time on the logo above, our graphics department sucks)
Tag Archives: Vampire Weekend
We don’t particularly care much about the Grammys, but we might as well mention a few highlights regarding last night’s nominations. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Arcade Fire have been nominated for Album of the Year, the Grammys’ biggest category, where they’ll square off against Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster, Eminem’s Recovery, Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, and Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now (one of these things is not like the others). They were also nominated for Best Alternative Album (whatever that means), where they’re up against other (former?) indie stalwarts Vampire Weekend, Band of Horses, the Black Keys, and Broken Bells. Jay-Z grabbed five nods, as did John Legend & the Roots for their collaboration, Wake Up! The Roots also grabbed one on their own for their record How I Got Over. Other notable Grammy nominations include:
- Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You” got four nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Short Form Music Video, and Best Urban/Alternative Performance.
- Robyn scored one for Best Dance Recording for her amazing “Dancing on My Own”
- Big Boi got a pair of nods for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for “Shutterbugg” and Best Urban/Alternative Performance for “Tightrope” with Janelle Monae, who herself grabbed a nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album.
- Kanye grabbed only one nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Power,” but his record came out so late, it will probably win a whole bunch of statues next year.
- Flight of the Conchords deserving got a nomination for Best Comedy Album for I Told You I Was Freaky.
I could use the rest of this space to ponder the relevancy of the Grammys and what purpose they serve, but as always, the Simpsons say it best:
The last big American music festival of the year has it’s lineup, and the Austin City Limits festival will be headlined by…The Eagles? Yep, it appears ACL will be headlined October 8-10 by the chillest band of the 1970s, along with Muse and Phish, with The Strokes, M.I.A. and the Flaming Lips taking the second string headliner bill. The rest of the lineup is filled in with big guns including LCD Soundsystem, Spoon, Vampire Weekend, Norah Jones, Band of Horses, Monsters of Folk, The National, and the Mountain Goats and lesser but good guns including The Black Keys, Broken Bells, Yeasayer, Beach House, Matt and Kim, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Girls, Local Natives, Devendra Barnhart, The Morning Benders, and White Rabbits. You can check out the whole lineup here.
We knew that Vampire Weekend was going to have a big year, but not sure if anyone predicted this big. The band’s second record, Contra, is currently occupying the top spot on the Billboard charts, having sold 124,000 copies in its first week en route to becoming only the 12th independently released record to top the charts. Looks like a lot of people are drinking “Horchata.”
Festival Season is underway with the release of the lineup for this year’s iteration of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and its a doozy. Jay-Z, Muse, and Gorillaz are the headliners, but the real action is happening with some of the lower-tier artists including Thom Yorke ????, Sly and the Family Stone !!!! and Pavement >>>> (apparently Thom Yorke ???? is what he’s calling his solo show these days). Other bands include LCD Soundsystem, Grizzly Bear, Vampire Weekend, The Specials, Fever Ray, MGMT, Dirty Projectors, Beach House, Phoenix, Spoon, and dozens more awesome bands. I’ve got to say, going to Coachella was never reasonable when I was an East Coaster, but given this line-up and the fact that I’m only a day and a half away by car, I’m definitely considering it.
In formulating my review of Vampire Weekend’s new record Contra, I found myself unable to figure out how to address the record. There’s a lot to be said about Vampire Weekend outside of the actual music on the record, which can sometimes get in the way when listening to the music itself. When the band debuted in 2008, the main critique of them was their preppy, East Coast style combined with heavy West African rock and Graceland influence. In the gap between the self titled debut and Contra, the band grew in popularity, and heaps of exposure in ads, television, and movies changed Vampire Weekend from a buzz band to the Next Big Thing pretty quickly. All of this was weighing so heavily on my mind the first time I heard Contra, I had to listen again to better concentrate and get a better sense of the music.
What I heard the second time around was actually pretty good. Contra is a lot more polished and focused than Vampire Weekend was, and you can hear a band that has gotten better at both crafting songs and producing them on the record. The album is far from flawless, and not everything hits the mark, but when it does, it produces really strong results. The polished production and processed sounds work both for and against the record. The first two tracks are the best example of this. Opener “Horchata” is lush and expansive, but there’s none of the raw or clean elements that made Vampire Weekend so fun to listen to. It’s an over produced track, that made me instantly hesitant towards the rest of the record. But the second track, “White Sky,” is incredibly catchy and bright. Perhaps it’s because it’s a track that band has been playing since the Vampire Weekend tour, but more likely because it is stripped down in comparison to “Horchata” and instead places more focus on the subtleties that are the band’s forte. On “White Sky,” Ezra Koenig’s voice sounds like a more friendly version of the Dirty Projector’s Dave Longstreth, hiccuping through the keyboards and clicking drums.
The best song on Contra the single “Cousins,” a frantic hybrid of punk and Afro-rock that is really the only track where the band becomes completely unrestrained. It positively bursts at the seams and is easily the most fun song on the record. Gone are the keyboards and processed beats found on the rest of the record, and in their place is a band that is just rocking out, which works extraordinarily well. That’s, again, not to say the keyboards and processed beats aren’t a detriment to the record, it’s just that the best elements of it are far more natural.
The album as a whole though is thoroughly enjoyable to listen to. Vampire Weekend have established themselves as being unafraid to just do what they want to do. Unlike other blog bands like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or Cold War Kids, they followed a good debut with an record that shows maturity, not just moving forward for the sake of moving forward. I found while listening that the problems I had, the drum machines and auto-tune, didn’t necessarily detract from the songs being well crafted and fun to listen to. I think I’d like to re-review the album in six months or a year to see how I feel after its had a chance to sit with me, but for now, it’s safe to say that Vampire Weekend has kicked off a promising year for music in the right way.
Michael’s Score: 80
Jonah’s Score: 60
Tangled Up In Wires Averaged Grade: B
With the new year comes news that three of the more buzzworthy acts out there will hit the road this spring. Vampire Weekend will support their forthcoming new release Contra on a huge tour throughout the U.S. and Europe, part of which will feature the awesome Titus Andronicus. Joanna Newsom (above) continues to tantalize fans with the possibility of a new record with a string of shows in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the U.S. And, lastly, Wilco will continue their annual tradition of constant touring with a jaunt across North America, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. (Links from P4k)
2009 was a great year for music, but it looks like 2010 could be even better. Big releases from Vampire Weekend and Spoon kick off a year that will also see releases from TUIW favorites Los Campesinos! and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. There are also rumors of new records from the likes of The Arcade Fire, The National, and maybe even Radiohead. Check out our list below and a longer list here:
VAMPIRE WEEKEND – CONTRA
FINAL FANTASY – HEARTLAND
RJD2 – THE COLOSSUS
THE MAGNETIC FIELDS – REALISM
BEACH HOUSE – TEEN DREAM
Beach House – “Norway” (MP3)
SPOON – TRANSFERENCE
LOS CAMPESINOS! – ROMANCE IS BORING
CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG & BECK — IRM
MIDLAKE – THE COURAGE OF OTHERS
YEASAYER – ODD BLOOD
Yeasayer – “Ambling Alp” (MP3)
HOT CHIP – ONE LIFE STAND
TED LEO & THE PHARMACISTS – THE BRUTALIST BRICKS
GORILLAZ – PLASTIC BEACH
DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS – THE BIG TO-DO
SHE & HIM – VOLUME 2
DUM DUM GIRLS – I WILL BE
DR. DOG – SHAME, SHAME
The National – Title TBA
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM (finished)
OF MONTREAL – FALSE PRIEST (WORKING TITLE)
THE WRENS – FUNERAL (WORKING TITLE)
BAND OF HORSES – NIGHT RAINBOWS