Another take on the new VW album, this time from Drowned in Sound. Marc Burrows wrote this May 9th…
Let’s get some things out of the way upfront 1) the new record by Vampire Weekend is the best alternative pop album you will hear this year. Unselfconscious, technically brilliant in a way that crucially you will never actually notice, shimmering with beautiful, strange melodies and just a small smidge of actual bonkers. 2) Beyond this sentence, this review will not feature any of the following words or phrases: ‘preppy’, ‘posh’, ‘college’, ‘Paul Simon’, ‘monied’, ‘Afro-’ anything, ‘fraternity’, ‘smug’, ‘button downed’ or ‘bafflingly sockless hipsters’ (although in the latter case that’s a hard one to resist). We’re jettisoning those words because Vampire Weekend have stepped smartly away from all of them — they no longer apply as critical statements, not even as descriptions. Modern Vampires of the City (bloomin’ marvelous title, FYI) overshadows such petty concerns by simply being immaculate, beautifully balanced and enthralling pop music.
Take lead single ‘Diane Young’, if only because it’s the one you’ve already heard. We know Vampire Weekend do great singles, we’ve clocked ‘Oxford Comma’, ‘A-Punk’ and ‘Cousins’, indie floor-fillers one and all. Small fry, dear reader. ‘Diane Young’ ascends into the post-millennial seven-inch-super-league, it’s within touching of distance of ‘Hey Ya!’, ‘Seven Nation Army’ and ‘Crazy in Love’, it’s dizzy with the exhaust fumes of ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’. Ezra Koenig and co-producer Rostam Batmanglij blend jugfulls of disparate musical ideas into a wonderfully refreshing pop smoothie, squelchy at the bottom, sweet and fruity at the top and all weird and fizzy in the middle. It doesn’t sound like any of the bands’ textbook influences or any of their imaginary ‘Brooklyn Scene’ contemporaries, it doesn’t sound of the past – it sounds how twenty-first-century pop should sound: completely of its time — released 20 years ago it would have been utterly baffling. The confidence here is staggering. Do you know how much confidence it takes for a hip indie band to use ”Baby, baby, baby, baby” as a hook? Unironic ”babies” are the property of Elvis, of Motown, of Madonna, of Prince, or Jacko, R Kelly and Mrs Carter, not guitar-toting Read the rest of this entry »
The new VW album, reviewed by Danny Wright of DIY (www.thisisfakeidy.co.uk), dated May 1st…
It’s the right amount of the old Vampire Weekend and the right amount of bold experimentation.
Listening to Modern Vampires of the City you start to recognise what a singularly odd band Vampire Weekend are. Their first two full-lengths have sold nearly 1.2 million combined copies, yet theirs was always a sound delightfully out of sync with everything else. This third album opens with ‘Obvious Bicycle’, whose percussion sounds like someone jumping up and down on a pogo stick. You wouldn’t put it past them that it’s not. It’s an album where weird flourishes are the norm: whether it’s ghostly choirs, elephant herd blasts of horns or frog choruses. There’s also Ezra Koenig’s pitch-shifted Elvis-like curled lip vocal delivery on ‘Diane Young’. And later there’s the spoken word narrative on the, up until then frantic, ‘Finger Back’.
But then Vampire Weekend have always followed their own idiosyncratic path. They create their own world, cherry -picking elements from different genres, cultures and times; making them their own. You always thought there was something more in them, something less arch and which aims for the heart as much as it does the head. This is that record; it delivers in every way. It’s been three years since Contra and the passage of time seems to be something that’s been on the band’s mind.
As you could imagine with a release focused on time, this is a more grown up collection of songs. It’s certainly more emotionally developed. Whereas in the past, if there’s one thing you could have levelled at Vampire Weekend, it’s that there was no emotional resonance, that everything felt a little too detached. Here they’ve created an album which mixes their sonic trickery with a beating heart. Read the rest of this entry »
Pitchfork Media review of Kraftwerk’s excellent box set collection The Catalogue. Written by Tom Ewing, Dec. 1, 2009…
Kraftwerk are a band trapped in the vast frame of their apparent influence. Aptly for a group so fascinated by travel they enjoy an image as the ultimate electronic pioneers — “the reason music sounds like it does today,” as one BBC documentary put it. Let’s take for granted then that it’s impossible to imagine modern pop music without Kraftwerk and try a more interesting thought experiment: Let’s try to imagine Kraftwerk without modern pop. What if they’d released the same body of work and influenced nobody? Would it still sound as good?
This box set is an opportunity to find out– a remastered, sealed-off package of what Kraftwerk (or at least remaining founder Ralf Hutter) would like you to consider its canon. This starts with 1974′s Autobahn. The three albums Kraftwerk made before are beloved of many fans, but the group routinely ignore them as inconvenient prologues charting the band’s messy discovery of electronics. The Catalogue skips past these to give you a run of five consecutive masterpieces, two albums whose flaws are at least intriguing, and then 2003′s very fine Tour de France. Most of these remasters are available as separate issues (due to licensing issues three of them aren’t in the U.S.), but the box as a whole is as full a Kraftwerk story as you’re likely to be officially offered. As such it invites you to consider their achievements and development in relation to themselves, not to wider history.
So why is Autobahn the official starting point? I like to think it’s because this was the record where the band suddenly hit on one of the things they could do better than anyone else — capture and make beautiful the precise sensations of everyday activity. Going for a drive, catching a train, using a computer, riding a bicycle — these are terribly mundane things to create sound-portraits of, but Kraftwerk find loveliness and power in them without ever losing a basic accuracy. You might think of “Autobahn” itself — the 22-minute breakthrough for this method — as a perverse take on psychedelia: a recreation of a mindstate, not the altered state of a trip but the low-level trance of day-to-day travel. Read the rest of this entry »
Taken from the Los Angeles Times, May 28th, sadly Paul Williams has passed away. I was always a big fan of his writing, particularly his books on Bob Dylan. He was one of the pioneers of rock criticism and he will be greatly missed…
Crawdaddy! magazine founder Paul Williams, often credited for helping establish the field of rock music criticism in the mid-1960s, died Wednesday at age 64 from complications related to a 1995 bicycle accident.
Williams’ wife, musician Cindy Lee Berryhill, confirmed her husband’s death in a post on Facebook, telling followers, “It was a gentle and peaceful passing.”
Williams, according to a note on his official website, “suffered a traumatic brain injury in a bicycle accident, leading to early onset of dementia, and a steady decline to the point where he now requires full-time care. The burden on his immediate family has been immense.”
Crawdaddy! predated Rolling Stone by more than 18 months when Williams mimeographed and distributed the first edition on Feb. 7, 1966, while a 17-year-old student at SwarthmoreCollege in Pennsylvania. The fledgling magazine carried some of the first articles by such writers as Jon Landau, Sandy Pearlman, Richard Meltzer and Peter Knobler, and included the first major interview with Bruce Springsteen in 1972.
Williams’ note in the first issue read, “You are looking at the first issue of a magazine of rock and roll criticism. Crawdaddy! will feature neither pin-ups nor news-briefs; the specialty of this magazine is intelligent writing about pop music.” Read the rest of this entry »