Monday, June 28, 2010
Vampire Weekend Sing the Ivy League Blues
I don’t know what kind of weekend you had, but I had a Vampire Weekend.
After buying an mp3 download of Vampire Weekend’s newish Contra album on Amazon.com for a mere $5.99, I found myself playing it from beginning to end, again and again.
Vampire Weekend is a foursome of dudes who met at Columbia University. Their singer/songwriter/guitarist has perhaps the least rockstar-ish name on the planet: Ezra Koenig.
But don’t let his Supreme Court nominee-ish name fool you. Ezra writes funny, rocking, infectiously melodic songs and his band plays them with a fun, freewheeling abandon that recalls Talking Heads, Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, Graceland-era Paul Simon and English Settlement-era XTC.
Vampire Weekend plays a certain type of white man’s blues; the Ivy League Blues if you will. It’s not of the Deep South but of the Northeast. It’s the blues of well read, well educated, well-traveled types who may have had it easier growing up than Muddy Waters but still have plenty to get off their monogramed chests.
Whereas a Lightnin’ Hopkins, for example, might sing about pickin’ cotton, Koenig & Co. sing about punctuation, as on “Oxford Comma” from their 2007 self-titled debut.
Despite a cover that resembles the irritatingly smug, New Canaan-bred actress Katherine Heigl, Contra is a delightful listen from start to finish. It's bouncy, soweto-infused beats and delightful worldplay make it a perfect record to accompany you as you travel abroad or sit on your patio with a refreshing summer cocktail. Here's another favorite from Contra called "Giving up the Gun." I think it may be about tennis, but I went to a state school so I can't be sure.
Deep South Blues Bonus Clip: Lightnin' Hopkins, "Cotton"