Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Vampire Weekend - updated

Sounds like what I frequently pull, but no - it's in reference to a movie that the lead singer once made about vampires invading Cape Cod, like the setup of some perfectly arched WASP joke: "wolcott, All the way to New Jersey, All the way to the Garden State, gotta get out of Cape Cod tonight/ wolcott, fuck the women from Wellfleet, fuck the bears out in Provincetown, gotta get out of Cape Cod tonight." Vampire Weekend sounds like a very young Belle and Sebastian, with quirky upbeat notes and prim almost-Oxfordian diction. They're young men at the intersection of privilege and class, armed with a little knowledge of the world, looking in from the inside of a WASP-controlled life where protocol is key ("I Stand Corrected",) where movements are stiff and malice is callous. Think of OK Go's "A Million Ways" for the Upper West Side prepster crowd, but infectious as the energy that Vampire Weekend brings. It's also a fitting soundtrack to the awkward inter-class pissing matches that sometimes go on in relationships - shades of Paul Kelly Tripplehorn, Jr, anyone? (Speaking of which, apparently the intrepid young jackass is now at some kind of evangelical Christian media company.

I have to say at first I hated Oxford Comma but now I can't stop finding and playing Vampire Weekend vids on youtube. Why? Because the Afro-pop allusions are pretentious and the white boy embraces the natives' music thing has been done to death. Salvation and filtration through a young Ivy League graduate's world lens is not always the prettiest thing you've ever heard. But Vampire Weekend makes fun, easy listening music that I can get up and dance to. Plus, how can you hate a bunch of college guys who say they're influenced by Kate Bush?!?

The guys are fully in on the joke - they filmed Mansard Roof on a boat in the Atlantic, with full on 80s style graininess and cheesy sunglasses. If there was a 2008 remake of the Graduate, Vampire Weekend would be the soundtrack (and the lead singer looks not a little unlike Dennis Hoffman as Ben Braddock.

Think of it as a very fine freshman effort, that will grow and develop. read this Last.fm user's rant on why Vampire Weekend is merely puerile, it also contains part of my core unease with the music and sums up some of my ambivalence. This cover of Radiohead's Exit Music shows how thin their chops can be, granted that it's incredibly hard to cover Thom Yorke's voice and moods. (And yes, if they don't evolve, they could be the next John Mayer, x4, and yes, they look just like the guys I went to college with.) So hopefully I'm not just obsessed for a weekend, but we'll see.

Nonetheless, my favorite song?
The young-sounding Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, about the awkwardness of courting. What is Kwassa you ask? Wiki has the answer: Kwassa kwassa (or kwasa kwasa) refers to a dance rhythm from Congo (DRC), where the hips move back and forth while the hands move to follow the hips – that was very popular in Africa in the late 1980s.

UPDATE: So on more listening, I like A-Punk best - it sticks in my head. The video is only so so. and their Letterman performance was painful. I'm no music critic but it looked like they were trying too hard to look cool and to "rock" plus the lead singer and the music were off time, so that it all seemed rushed and very tepid. Greg Kot of the Chicago Trib has a pretty good review of Vampire Weekend as essentially one hit wonder. Or perhaps in my case, a one weekend wonder. I can already sense my interest waning. . .went and listened to some Belle and Sebastian nonstop recently and well, these kids can't match up.

On the other hand, I am still loving The Slants.

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  • At 4:43 PM, Anonymous jenny! said…

    Yay Slants! They rock!


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