Analog Adventures: Vampire Weekend
About the Artist
Vampire Weekend generated a lot of internet buzz in the mid to late aughts. The band is famous for blending indie pop sensibilities with afrobeat influences to create a sound reminiscent of Paul Simon’s work in the 1980’s. Despite the similarities in sound, Vampire Weekend’s songwriting separates them from their sonic influences. Songwriter Ezra Koeing and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij’s collaborations are clever in their use of wordplay and instrument timbres. While guitars, keys, and drums dominate the sound, the inclusion of hand percussion pushes the band to the front of the crowd when distinguishing themselves from other indie acts.
The Record Itself
Vampire Weekend is a short 34 minute affair, with many tracks clocking in under the three minute mark. The album begins with Mansard Roof, a quick baroque influenced romp dominated by the electric organ. The arpeggiated chords are layered above frantic drums that sound as if they are falling apart yet keeping the beat all the same. Koeing’s distinct style of singing truly stands out above the impressive musicianship. His voice is in the same vein of the great folk singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan. Before you have a chance to pinpoint the beat the song is over, and you’re ready for more.
The songwriting is varied to the degree that no two songs sound the same yet they have a distinct voice. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa is radically different than any other song on this album. The afrobeat influenced guitar combined with the hand percussion ensemble sound unusual for an American band from the East Coast, but the band manages to turn unusual into a classic.
“No excuse to be so callous, dress yourself in bleeding madras, Charm your way across the Khyber Pass” – Vampire Weekend, M79.
The production of the album took place over nine different locations – barns, apartments, and basements. The sound matches this DIY production style. The cover of the record is a Polaroid picture from one of their early shows. This again reflects the DIY and underground nature of Vampire Weekend, matching the feel with the look of being an independent artist. Speaking of feel, the jacket is matted giving it the texture of construction paper. The simplicity of the overall design is key to the authenticity of the album. This is a single disc album, weighing in at a standard 140 grams. Vampire Weekend is truly independent from mainstream standards in every way possible.
The back cover and inner sleeve.
Is It Worth It?
This record is a snapshot of the indie music scene of the mid to late aughts. It perfectly captures the experimental nature of this period, simultaneously hopeful and uncertain of the future at the same time. The songs on this album found themselves all over pop culture, such as the movie Step Brothers and the video game Guitar Hero. This album contains classic song after classic song. It is also fairly common to find, making it one that will not break the bank. If you are looking for a modern classic and have $15 to spare, this is a great addition to your collection.
- Oxford Comma
- One (Blake’s Got a New Face)
- The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance