Friday, December 26, 2008

Vampire Weekend (CD)

What a joy. My daughter pulled this one out while we were at grammie’s house. It told me many things, but the most important is that there was an album put out this year that appealed to grandma, my son, my daughter, my wife, and myself. Think about it. I’m going back to my post earlier this month and add this to one of the top albums of 2008 in my book. The excitement of the musicians is contagious.

Every time I listen to this album I’m thinking of one of my favorite musicians. Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon solo, Jonathan Richman, Rickie Lee Jones, Patti Smith, Tom Petty, Steve Forbert, Soko, etc. What ties all these folks together? Their first albums are energetic all the way through. And often the message didn’t mean much. Like these guys are obviously college dudes who like girls. But they don’t hide their lives. I don’t identify much with college life, but that’s not the point. I didn’t identify myself much with the “swamps of jersey” either, but I loved the music. Some of it makes no sense at all to me. “I see a mansard roof through the trees. I see a salty message written in the eaves.” ??? But that’s no different than “madmen, drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat. In the dumps with the mumps while an adolescent pumps his whey into his hat.” Yeah, whatever. But I memorized the lines 35 years ago. Because they made no sense, but were fun. I’ll be memorizing the stuff on this album too, because it will be a part of my playlist every time I feel like being happy. I don’t have to agree with the guys and their plans to love the energy they put behind it. Just like we didn’t have to all be Psycho Killers “Qu'est-ce que c'est? fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa.”

Back to the Vampire Weekend. First the music. There’s touches of world music, as well as string quartet sounds. But mostly a bunch of guys sounding like they picked up their instruments a year ago and figured out how to play them well enough to make something fun to listen to. Oxford Comma strikes home to me because I was an English major, and I understand very well the pretentiousness of what these guys are singing about. Been there, and will attest to the truth of the song and the joy of the music. A-Punk is about lifestyles and broken promises. Again, with the music lifting us above the expressed emotions. Campus is great fun because it’s emotions we all share, “How am I supposed to pretend I never want to see you again?” My favorite lyric is in the song Boston: “A morbid steak runs through the whole of my family, but for you I could put it to rest.” The things we do for love. LOL!

I don’t see any need to keep going song by song. My bet is most of you already know this group. That was another lesson I learned. I get kind of stuck here listening to all the CDs that arrive at the post office every day – and there’s another whole world of music out there by folks that haven’t heard of eartaste, and vice-versa. This album has been out a year, and I’m just now getting to hear it. No prob to me. I often hear smaller groups and labels a year or two late because small bands are slow to learn publicity. But apparently these guys were instant media darlings – with good reason. I just missed out because I keep my head in the boxes and don’t look out beyond. This is a big “beg” to let me know when something is out there I should hear. When you let me know, I let others know, etc etc.

And, FYI – Vampire Weekend is a good deal right now. The entire CD can be downloaded from Amazon for $5. If you love being happy while listening to music, this is a very inexpensive way to have a very cool album in your collection today.

Vampire Weekend