“And then Vampire Weekend starts playing,” Sanneh continues, still marveling at his suspicious friend’s conversion in real time. Putting yourself on the internet is step one. But either way, they played the Hot New Band role so perfectly they rendered it obsolete. About Vampire Weekend At a time when indie pop was opening up to a wide world of influences, Vampire Weekend nudged things to the next level, bringing brainy lyrics and African flavours to the table as a sort of late-2000s alternative-scene answer to Paul Simon. I think people argue, certainly, about what’s appropriate credit and all that kind of thing, but I tend to enjoy those kinds of culture clashes.”, In 2010, that culture clash still drove much of the conversation around Vampire Weekend’s Contra, which further rankled those critics who found the band exasperating from the start. “I do think that ultimately the reason their path was unique is because they’re unique,” says SiriusXM radio host and Rolling Stone contributing editor Jenny Eliscu, who first profiled Vampire Weekend for the magazine, back when the band was fresh enough to make a Hot Issue. He cites a line from the Contra track “Cousins” that sharply sums up class mobility in the internet age: “Dad was a risk-taker / His was a shoemaker / You, greatest hits 2006 little list-maker.”, From Chen’s perspective at XL Recordings, having guided the band from Myspace to relative stardom and far exceeding his own original 18-month plan, the identity issue was a nonissue. They return with a new album this week as survivors of the blog-hype era and a music industry that doesn’t prop up hot, young indie bands like it used to. As 2007 rolled on, Rolling Stone interviewed them for the magazine’s Hot Issue, while The New York Times caught a modest show at a Williamsburg art gallery and enthusiastically pointed readers to the band’s Myspace page. It was an inexact process. Rock critics evoked Paul Simon’s Graceland instinctively, as is our wont, though not everyone took this as an enthusiastic recommendation. “And I think probably halfway through the first song, he looks at me, like, ‘Oh.’ Certainly to me and to him, and to a lot of people who heard it, it sounded just very ... obviously … rad.”, Rewards repeated listens is the old rock-critic cliché; Vampire Weekend’s magic trick was to reward you from the very first. It was like the end of that.”, The central question is whether the band’s globe-trotting, record-collecting sound helped usher in this omnivorous new era or tried to stifle it. Batmanglij is Iranian American; Koenig is of Hungarian-Jewish descent. The gulf between desperately selling yourself and confidently helping Apple sell more hardware. 2 showing in the Voice’s year-end critics’ poll. But the band’s stature, and its audience, appeared to double overnight. Rock bands, even of the ironic or postmodern or deconstructed variety, are just another niche now, still a potent lifestyle for some but an increasingly inconsequential subgenre for most. you can tell how the weather went from sunny to drizzling over the course of the day if you look closely. “People I know who don’t follow new bands, they would hear one Vampire Weekend song and just be like, ‘What’s that? “So I sent them a week-by-week breakdown from May 2007 to December 2008—outlining when I saw their fall touring, finishing the album, releasing it, playing SNL, Central Park SummerStage, going to Australian and Japanese festivals and U.S. holiday radio shows.” It was ridiculously ambitious to the point of arrogance, and once anyone heard any one Vampire Weekend song, the band’s flight plan had a thrilling and/or maddening sense of destiny. “I am down on the cultural hold that Twitter has taken, just because I think it’s made everyone worse writers, and probably worse critics, and I include myself in that,” Shepherd says. 1 Billboard debut, the no. Vampire Weekend, meanwhile, are far less of a critical flash point these days, in part because five-alarm critical flash points are rarer overall, and certainly among men holding guitars. We’ve heard a lot about the Vampire Weekend cover controversy from the band and photographer’s lawyers, as well as the lawyer representing Ann Kirsten Kennis. But the band either couldn’t keep it together or didn’t want to, returning in 2010 with the claustrophobic, fame-addled, and defiantly pop-averse Congratulations. A bunch of people (critics mostly) were mad because of VAMPIRE WEEKEND. "I was like, 'Yeah, that's strange. “Even you could beat up these guys,” Vulture quipped in a piece headlined “What to Expect From the Upcoming Vampire Weekend Backlash.” Koenig and the boys would be on Saturday Night Live by the spring. “I was so curious about what sort of Columbia-kid band would be working with Nasty Little Man that I was sitting next to, I think, his girlfriend at the time,” Abebe continues, “and I had to kind of lean over and ask, ‘What band is this?’ She said, ‘Oh, they’re called Vampire Weekend. “I think people slowly stopped giving a shit about indie hype bands,” says longtime New York City critic and current Jezebel editor in chief Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, who panned Vampire Weekend’s debut album in The Village Voice alongside a much more positive review written by Mike Powell. With a more intellectual and experimental approach, none of those bands could match, say, the Strokes for pure instant-gratification appeal, and all of them were proud to say so. “Because if you haven’t realized the intertwined, recombinant nature of music by now, you shouldn’t even listen to anything new. But Vampire Weekend, with their 2010 sophomore album, Contra, proved themselves an anomaly once again. The leap from a computer screen to Late Show With David Letterman or, better yet, Saturday Night Live. Actually, it's all we've been listening to since it leaked last week. You’ll have an easier time finding music like this than it will have finding you against your will. “But yeah, I think the question of ‘Would Vampire Weekend get a free pass if they weren’t Ivy Leaguers singing of the woes of the American leisure class?’ fuckin’ still holds.”, For Abebe, now a story editor at The New York Times Magazine, the best defense of Vampire Weekend often came in Vampire Weekend’s own songs. The dawn of the streaming era further awarded curiosity and genre diversification, and further disincentivized the industry to cough up a new putative savior of rock every six months. That's me, many years ago,'" Kennis told Vanity Fair in 2010. “I was living up around Columbia at the time,” he recalls, “and I was just riding the subway home and overheard this young guy talking to somebody about, like, ‘Should our band work with Nasty Little Man? Vampire Weekend is the eponymous debut studio album by American rock band Vampire Weekend, released on January 29, 2008 by XL Recordings.The album was produced by band member Rostam Batmanglij, with mixing assistance from Jeff Curtin and Shane Stoneback.Its cover photo is a Polaroid picture from one of their … Their detractors were still around and still out for blood. “Or this old rubric where mostly white, male, straight, cis, Ivy League, buttoned-up cool guys could come in and make a guitar album that was, like, jaunty, and everyone would lose their shit. 1, topped myriad year-end lists, and won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. Vampire Weekend has given us an album which holds such intensity you feel it in your soul. “There was something very accessible and charming and obvious only in retrospect about it.”, Returning now to 2008’s Vampire Weekend, that affable brashness and casually nuclear charm is everywhere. Vampire Weekend’s last album, 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City, was a further maximalist leap and another critical and commercial success: the no. Contra is, for what it’s worth, the band’s best record, expansive and detailed and bracingly melancholy, though Hopper disagreed in a memorably hostile Chicago Reader review that described it as a “fuckless episode of Gossip Girl written by Jimmy Buffett.” Hopper’s piece also tackled the whiteness issue head-on, along with Koenig’s many interviews addressing it, setting the comment section ablaze and inspiring a relatively cordial Tumblr back-and-forth with Abebe about how critics should address matters of race and class. Vampire Weekend ideally served as a gateway drug, not a cheap American replacement. Father of the Bride is much anticipated within the band’s sizable universe but betrays no great urge to set the world aflame, critically or commercially: It unfolds, over the course of an expertly languid hour, into a broad, mega-festival pop-rock mélange designed to please most people and offend way fewer than usual. If people are supposed to stay in their own culture lanes, then I suppose I, who grew up in Texas as the son of Taiwanese immigrants, should be working with Shan’ge, Mandopop, or country artists. “‘Maybe internet bands are the thing that are really going to blow up.’ And we’ve got to jump on that, you know? “I brought a friend of mine who was into music,” he says. (I was the Voice’s music editor at the time; the love-hate dichotomy the band inspired was so intense back then that it felt only fair to let both sides be heard.) Two years later, 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City likewise debuted at no. “The idea that if some kids in a band are gonna be inspired by Congolese music or Kid Creole & the Coconuts or something like that—I don’t think that takes away opportunity for that other music,” Sanneh says. “But they’re the kind of kids that things break right for.”. Sign up to receive exclusive updates from Vampire Weekend Soon he was helping Vampire Weekend set up shows and pass demos around. No breakout-band success story, no matter how instantaneous and organic it appears, is entirely instantaneous and organic; at this level, nobody does it overnight, and more importantly, nobody does it themselves. CREDIT: Vampire Weekend Responds To Saab Controversy Car fanatics were none-too-thrilled with the lyric video for Vampire Weekend’s “ Diane Young ” and its Saab-arson visuals. Each new tune sounded like a demo but felt suspiciously complete: the prim Afro-pop filigrees, the Ivy League erudition, the wise-ass hyper-melodiousness. Nitsuh Abebe first heard the era’s biggest and most ridiculous band name of them all on the train, sometime in early 2007, somewhere on the Upper West Side. But the next Vampire Weekend record, 2010’s Contra, debuted at no. There was. Vampire Weekend have settled their legal dispute with Ann Kirsten Kennis, the model who discovered her photo on the cover of the band's album Contra. Vampire Weekend had “the charisma of the internet,” as Aaron puts it, but the throwback swagger of actual people predestined for actual success. And it just so happened that Vampire Weekend wrote better songs and were cuter.”. Kennis won an undisclosed settlement from the band and their label, XL Records, while her photographer remains locked in ongoing litigation. The trick, of course, was to leap that yawning chasm between the online world and the real one. “Now,” Shepherd says, “Twitter is just like, you can substitute that for, ‘I stan!,’ you know?”. Because only Vampire Weekend or Kanye West could possibly find themselves wrapped up in a controversy with people who fetishize cars. Content ©2020 The Ringer All Rights Reserved, winning the 2011 Album of the Year Grammy. That internet ecosystem, by the late 2000s, had its monumental successes and its cautionary tales, too. Actually, I’d work with Kacey Musgraves. On August 15, 2011, it was announced that Kennis had dropped her lawsuit against XL Recordings and Vampire Weekend after they paid Kennis an … “But I also think that 2008 was the great explosion on the internet, and so people were starting to listen to different types of music, and so I think that was the first year of the decline of guitar rock.”. The “alternative” label was superfluous by then; they’d become one of the biggest rock bands in America, period. The music industry at that time was post–Napster crash but pre-streaming boom, with Pitchfork ascendant, MP3 blogs like Stereogum and Fluxblog thriving—yes, a decade ago, young tastemakers devoured new tunes one download at a time—and the critical conversation, in those halcyon days before Twitter saturation, transpiring mostly on message boards and, soon, Tumblr. Hype was cheap; staying power, even past a few seconds, was invaluable. That larger debate can be boiled down to the song title “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” (which references a Congolese dance style) and the cheeky Myspace genre tag “Upper West Side Soweto” (which nods to both South Africa and Paul Simon’s vivid but not-uncontroversial reimagination of South Africa). Young breakout mid-2000s bands—see Black Kids, Cold War Kids, Tapes ‘n Tapes, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah—tended to wither in the critical limelight, their debut albums praised to the heavens and their sophomore albums often ignored if not nuked from space. Their fourth album, Father of the Bride, is out Friday; its best song, lead single “Harmony Hall,” evokes the piano-bashing Rolling Stones at their jolliest, Fatboy Slim at his mellowest, a big-tent jam band at its warmest and least alienating. Vampire Weekend and XL always claimed they followed proper steps to license the photograph, blaming Brody for any wrongdoing. “A-Punk” indeed sounds like a straight-A student’s idea of punk; “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” sounds like a louche campus loverboy’s come-on that doubles as a humblebrag about how many passport stamps he’s got. But a hot, new, young rock band that seemed to have a chance of mattering IRL was just enough of an anomaly to warrant taking the leap. For every Pitchfork favorite that later hit some semblance of the big time—whether that’s Arcade Fire winning the 2011 Album of the Year Grammy or LCD Soundsystem throwing itself a luxe (and premature) goodbye party at Madison Square Garden that same year—there was a band like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or Black Kids, lavishly praised at first contact but ferociously dismissed with the very next breath, such that one’s dopey band name might become shorthand for “instant success followed by just-as-instant failure.” The music-internet economy needed a new challenger every few months, but the turnover rate was vicious, and so many of those once-hyped bands never quite got around to feeling … real. And when their self-titled debut finally materialized in January 2008, it earned a rave Pitchfork review from Abebe himself. THE CONTROVERSY: The dazzling debut album from the Strokes earned raves for its effervescent pop sensibility and its raw, seemingly unprocessed sound. “But the kind of thing that they do well is what I’m always looking for in a new artist, which is to combine things I already like into something I haven’t heard them combined into before … that’s part of what you love about the new thing, is what it reminds you of.” Vampire Weekend first kicked up quite a fuss for the singular way they evoked the past, playing college rock in a disturbingly literal sense and blurring the lines between rockism and poptimism until the whole conversation seemed pointless. The metaphors are mind-blowing, and the topics tackled are controversial and beautiful. And now, happily, part of their modern appeal lies in the way they’ve become a part of the past, too. “‘They’re a party band. “Spill kefir on your keffiyeh.”. In an enervated year for music, when pop was rightfully eclipsed by Far More Important Matters, Vampire Weekend were as close as our little community got to a polarizing controversy. “And then they’d hear who they were, and they’d be annoyed.”, Whether you loved to hate them or hated to love them, few modern rock bands inspired stronger feelings faster. The video concept came from Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij 's friend Borna Sammak, and was filmed while the band was performing at SXSW. Which maybe it was. That’s catchy as shit! The ska-for-ska-haters jam “Holiday” was hooky and genial enough to power ad campaigns for both Honda and Tommy Hilfiger, but also durable enough that fans could still listen to it without feeling gross. As for Vampire Weekend specifically, “They also were a signifier of this old world, right?” Shepherd says. I was like, ‘That actually looks really cool and interesting in a surprising way. I think people saw that with Paul Simon. 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