PUFFBREATH AND FLURRIES
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.
Never have I been so happy to have egg on my face. After months of ignoring the buzz around Vampire Weekend, contenting myself with the pretty-darn-good song called "Oxford Comma" and assuming all the rest to be blog hyperbole (hyperbloge?), I finally downloaded their "blue cd-r" a few of weeks ago. Other than singles it's their only release, at least until XL issues their debut next year. And you can't buy it anywhere any more - hence my willingness to share one, two, three songs with you today. My willingness, yes, and also my glee.
Because Vampire Weekend are terrific and these songs doubly so; a mess of glint, snap and bump that sends me happily huddled into my weekdays. It's indie pop informed by Spoon, Paul Simon's Graceland, Wes Anderson, and Baroque string quartets, and if this sounds good to you then THIS WILL PROBABLY SOUND GOOD TO YOU.
"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"'s named after a Congolese dancebeat but the song's not in fact a kwassa kwassa, nor is it a slow jam, although it's basically about making out, pale and collegiate, and wondering what the heck you're doing. The chorus ends, at least to my ears, like this: "Does it feel so unnatural / to Peter Gabriel too?" And while critics fall over this as a statement about "world music", appropriation, &c, to me it's just a kid's clumsy, loopy wonderin' about the having of sex. Fresh out of puberty, fresh into university, jostling shoulders and hopefully bumping boots with the rich-girl in the Benetton t-shirt and with the Louis Vuitton bag, reggaeton on the stereo like the spiced sound of i-can-do-what-i-want! And our hero, our nervy art student of a hero, thinking as he takes off his undershirt about the man who was all through his youth the paragon of funk, of musically getting down, the bootiest music that 9 year-old Ezra ever knew. Does Peter Gabriel, too, find sex so... unnatural? So happily weird? So happily, happily, happily weird?
"Do you want to fuck?" Koenig exclaims the first time round, the crowing of a lad who can't believe his luck. But he's still too shy to be so explicit more than once: "Do you want ta'?!" he sings every time after that, a lustful lamp in his eyes, "'cause you know I do." Ooo-oo ooh-ooo. And in the song's final moments, before harpsichord snaps into position to show that this era has a cadence, that this soft jersey time will end, we have the sweetest love-scene of any song this year: a scene of white sheets and pink lips and fingers slipping round the curve of an ear, a few bars where we hear just Hammond hum and hands on skin and the bluebird coos of a boy slipping out of one skin & into another. Out of the young and into the old. (Out of the heat and into the cold.)
"Bryn" is a handmade rocket, a skyward climb, the sweetest California sunrise of a sound. It's two minutes of sunkiss and the tumble of drums, it's longing and wishing and the knowledge of it-won't-be. And it's strings, wild and wheeling, the sound of the seagulls - free, certainly, but never ever home.
And "A-Punk", well, it makes Clap Your Hands Say Yeah feel defunct.
(Vampire Weekend do inspire a whole lot of chewy ideas around race, class, appropriation and so on. The best analysis of these is probably Eric's from last week - it certainly feels like the most honest one.)
Vampire Weekend are touring and they come to Montreal on December 14th. The show's at Club Lambi. Said the Gramophone has two pairs of passes to give away. To enter our sweepstakes email me with "VAMPIRE WEEKEND CONTEST" as the subject-line. And in the body of your email please suggest an alternate name for the band, cos seriously, "Vampire Weekend" is awful.
---Posted by Sean at December 3, 2007 7:04 PM
Posted by ru at December 3, 2007 7:16 PM
I won't be in Montreal. Suggested band name, however: The Unannounced Book Sale. Not because it fits them particularly; I just like it.Posted by tessa at December 3, 2007 8:48 PM
Vampire Weekend is fantastic. They were in Phoenix on Saturday, but I couldn't go (21+). :(Posted by Wes at December 3, 2007 9:39 PM
these guys played here a couple weeks ago, and it was awesome. i love them. i want them to come back and stay forever and play a show every night.Posted by Liz at December 3, 2007 10:33 PM
I'm sold! I also don't live in montreal...Posted by camille at December 3, 2007 10:40 PM
Aww, come on, I have no problem with the name Vampire Weekend. I just recently heard of them, a friend of mine sent me to a youtube of Mansard Roof.Posted by Cory at December 3, 2007 11:02 PM
I don't live in Montreal either (but in Berlin, where I missed VW play shortly after Helloween - at least the name fit there). How about 'Tennis': That's just been a band name I've been secretly loving for a long time. Ties in with the whole white upper-class prep-school/college thing as well...Posted by arnulf at December 4, 2007 4:49 AM
pretty cool band, but they reek to high heaven of ephemeral fame. i'm still on the hypebloge side of the fence.
This is catchy stuff, endearingly life affirming.Posted by Dave Belbin at December 4, 2007 1:06 PM
And I've just discovered that they're playing the Bowery Ballroom when I'm in New York next month. I'll be there, jet lag willing. Thanks again, Sean.Posted by Dave Belbin at December 4, 2007 1:14 PM
There's a session of vampire weekend up at daytrotter:Posted by mark at December 4, 2007 6:27 PM
what a great AND accurate reviewPosted by Zach at December 5, 2007 2:53 PM
My Bloody Vampire RomancePosted by sarah at December 6, 2007 11:10 AM
You know, as I was listening to Bryn, all I could think of was Paul Simon.
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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.
Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.
Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.
Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.
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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)
Back to the World
La Blogothèque ◊
Weird Canada ◊
Destination: Out ◊
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe) ◊
Ill Doctrine ◊
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music ◊
Petites planétes ◊
Gorilla vs Bear ◊
Silent Shout ◊
Clouds of Evil ◊
The Dolby Apposition ◊
Awesome Tapes from Africa ◊
Matana Roberts ◊
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews ◊
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan ◊
CKUT Music ◊
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater ◊
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden ◊
Passion of the Weiss ◊
Juan and Only ◊
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin) ◊
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad ◊
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross) ◊
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet ◊
things we like in Montreal
le pick up
au pied de cochon
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c
drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c
casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
cinema du parc
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe
The Morning News