- Entertainment and Media
Vampire Weekend Review - Brilliant Song Bytes - Exclusive Concert Tour Photos
"With a somewhat pale looking hand, and not much else to say, he extended a fist full of proven "Van Helsing" tested essentials" -
<> With minimal effort and concentration including a mild dose of intuitive, intervening, quasi automatic audio filtration, I can usually make the really good artists I listen to, (most of whom transmit song offerings endlessly and freely from the invisible waves, the net, or live performance) spontaneously disperse and rapidly accelerate unto the far reaches of literal memory oblivion. Thus, immediately disappearing from my music detection radar and long term mental file folder designed for subsequent recall. This process usually leaves a remaining balance of genuinely unique, pleasing to my ear, melodically catchy, super star potential acts. Or, what I perceive at any given moment in time to be "Top Tier Entertainment" according to my specific evaluation criteria and particular music taste, "Song Bytes" which I deem worthy of audio Rolodex filing and availability ensuring swift future location, access, playback, and of course enjoyment.
I've always been insatiably attracted to all genres, styles, and vintages of music ranging from the blues to metal, and meandering effortlessly into the cultural icon domain where unapproachable, ridiculously talented, contemporary and classical masters such as Sinatra and Beethoven can be found conjuring a priceless catalogue of mesmerizing, soothingly transcending vocal arias and dramatic, ivory massaging arpeggios. But I have also been inclined to wander consistently, as if pulled uncontrollably by an enormous intangible magnet, into a secondary fixation to satisfy an underlying sub-interest in non-mainstream, out of the ordinary, "Different", and somewhat abstract artistic expressions. Works crafted and submitted for global public consumption as visual or audible manifestations originating from all relative categories including music, sculpture and painting, and of course, the silver screen. Artists which in my opinion, have successfully built a tight knit, rabidly dedicated following based primarily upon a core of exceedingly original material coupled with a unique talent, and inherent ability to see, hear, and then regurgitate their surroundings and personal experiences in a slightly different way. Then, subsequently coordinating and incorporating the ideas, arranging song and melody structure accordingly, and finally, the culmination of appropriate song execution has arrived.
There are so many other individual singers, ensembles, and bands worthy of mention who have built a solid career foundation around transcending genres, and several from my perpetually evolving list of standouts will be touched upon in future journals, however, with the preceding preamble as backdrop and mood inducer, this particular documentary celebration piece is laser sharp focused on a relatively young, fledgling quartet dubbed "Vampire Weekend". An eclectic group of college buddies whom following a brief, yet in depth musical examination and subsequent evaluation, meets all my personal criteria to be enthusiastically inducted into a "Playback & Follow" list data base consisting of a living collection of these "Unique" artistic sounds, ensuring my appetite for new, emerging, totally original thinking bands and solo individuals, is always quenched with a relevant offering. Until of course another music making entity eventually comes along to replace their waning in popularity predecessors. And the ongoing ancestral lineage born of the nonstop music evolution continues.
Before they had achieved their current level of rapidly growing popularity in the "Tangible Literal" world, "Vampire Weekend" strategically invaded the eagerly receptive Internet based "Virtual" universe first by delivering a somewhat difficult to digest, yet very tasty and filling appetizer menu of refreshing, engaging, uncompromising, uniquely arranged songs via an initial World Wide Web Internet introduction to the awaiting online music scene. Since this premiere, they continue to systematically build an accelerating in value brand outside the restrictive confines of cyberspace while leaving an impressive innovative musical mark wherever they may perform. This ongoing "VW" awareness campaign apparently designed to re-introduce the band to new fans, or shore up the existing core via alternative mediums, so far, has resulted in a continuously growing global audience reach and expansion. An augmenting self promotional effort is now primarily accomplished with the transition to, and assistance of traditional means such as cable and satellite airwaves via MTV, VH1, and alternate, live concert driven sister channels such as Palladia. The inevitable conversion from "Viral to Real or Para-Viral" is in process.
+ QUICK BYTE + The following piece is not necessarily a review nor personal evaluation pinpoint focused on an individual "VW" album, show, concert tour, musical expertise, nor specific aspect of the groups overall essence per se, but consider it an all encompassing, general opinion accompanied by an enthusiastically penned and documented literary and visual celebration, brushed in broadly stroked terms and presented as a humble offering to the entity so flippantly called "Vampire Weekend" - An in depth opinion related to song structure and arrangement, lyrical style, content, interpretation, and nuance, and its prominence and or resonation value within the universal music listening community - Stage presence, image, and appearance will also be touched upon, and lastly, a potentially futile exercise in speculation regarding the future direction and specific place within the music composing and production landscape this quad vamped act will find itself in the years to come, as compared to where they stand today as an integral example of an extremely talented, socially spun phenomena and escalating industry force - Join me, as together we briefly explore and celebrate the initial achievements of four college friends from New York who in my opinion, appear to be on the unwavering, uncompromising path of generously gifting all of us who are constantly looking for our next "Out of the Box" artist, untold years of distinct audible ecstasy -
- > Columbia University Students
- > Band Assembled 2006 in New York
- > Album Debut - 2008
- > Debut Album - "Vampire Weekend"
- > Debut Hit Singles - "A-Punk" "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" "Mansard Roof" "Oxford Comma"
- > Music Genre - "Uniquely Their Own"
- > Best New Band 2008 ( Various Publications )
- > Multiple Number #1 "Music Chart" Designations
+ Chris Baio - Bass Guitar / BackUp Vocals / Co-Writer
+ Rostam Batmanglii - Keyboards / Guitar / BackUp Vocals / Co-Writer / Lyricist
+ Ezra Koenig - Lead Vocals / Guitar / Co-Writer / Lyricist
+ Chris Tomson - Drums / Percussion / Co-Writer
+ SONG BYTES
I'm reasonably confident all fellow experts in the music field would agree with my assertion suggesting there is unquestionably a severe divergence and demonstrable innovation gap between the majority of mainstream, pop alternative rock offerings, and the abnormally addictive, melodic escapades of "Vampire Weekend". "VW's" songs, both audibly and presumably visually, once an inevitable ramping up of television and web based media videos begins, ("Giving up the Gun" being just a small taste of what I believe to be the genesis of something extra special), read and feel more like elaborate story lines extracted from novel scripts or eccentric movie soundtracks, which were originally conjured and brought to life somewhere within the confines of a mad scientist's damp basement located in the subterranean chamber of a gargantuan fifteenth century renaissance stone facade castle, verses the standard, mundane three or four minute modern, fluff filled tune brought painfully to the overly saturated market via the recording of a live performance or, end result of a midi wired studio located somewhere in an illustrious penthouse suite.
The underlying rolling back beat aggressively pounded out proficiently with precise metronome qualities by technically superb Chris Tomson, who has apparently managed at a very young age to seamlessly integrate his many influences with basic percussion fundamentals, coupled with the agile, at times complex in delivery, complimentary finger flowing bass riffs provided by Chris Baio, are intricately infused to connect, augment, and produce the full throttle bottom. Ezra Koenig, the lead guitar player and quite capable "Narrative" "Spontaneously Yodeling" vocalist, has either willingly or, inadvertently in an attempt to help create or blend into the bare, blunt overall "VW" sound, bucked the longstanding, extremely popular electric "Effects Generated Sound Manipulation" trend by abstaining from the introduction of not a single solitary mechanical sound altering devise, aside from a modest notching up of basic re-verb to his choice hollow bodied Epiphone ax.
Eza's dedication to originality is obvious and his apparent tribute to our electrified Rock & Roll framers such as Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Et AL, two of the very first genre specific guitar players to project a raw, un-enhanced guitar sound, albeit out of necessity of the comparably primitive day and not choice, is a refreshing change of pace. And last but certainly not least, Rostam Batmanglii who supplies the upbeat, punchy, at times perky "Carnival" style keyboard background and fills together with occasional, intermittent, precisely timed and executed "Slap Back Echo" style alternating lead riff enhancements performed simultaneously with string manipulating cohort Ezra. A smooth, pleasing to the ear technique which is clearly evident within shining moments of the song "Holiday". It's all good and all original.
Dare I say brilliantly arranged and executed music bytes? Perhaps, if compared to peers in proper context. Superbly simple yet sophisticated in abstract concept and musical delivery, a neo-fresh take on some obscure yet common subjects, and so mature in arrangement yet full of youthful zest in presentation. Although we all have the tendency to inadvertently pick up, absorb, mentally store, and subsequently mimic our previous musical "Influences" subconsciously as an incidental consequence of merely listening to songs randomly throughout the day, in my opinion, "VW" has managed to develop the inherent ability to either filter out and repel, compartmentalize, or simply build an illusory mental barrier designed to block or detour these "Copy Cat Knock Off" inclinations away from song writing sessions minimizing the potentially detrimental affects, leaving no substantial recognizable artifacts nor noticeable comparisons in music style to past or present artists, at least none justifiably in my opinion.
+ QUICK BYTE + If you're susceptible to abnormally excessive enjoyment of fascinating rhythms, melodies, and fresh new catchy vocalizations, proceed with extreme caution, exercise prudent restraint, maintain your distance, and try not to encroach upon the Terra Firma reserved for a vampires footsteps - If the invisible partition is breached, the "VW Bite" although not fatal, has a tendency to cause slight external lacerations of the jugular, followed precipitously by profuse corruption of the senses which normally act quite efficiently to curb resistance of excessive indulgence in the finer things in life - All common symptoms leading rapidly to a progressively magnified appreciation for music artists whom not only break all the rigidly established song writing rules as do Vampire Weekend, but break them with a boyish charm - Inherent characteristics which typically define the "Dusk Riser" -
- Lyrical Interpretation
And the lyrics? Abstract in some instances, obscure in others, straight forward and directly to the point, while simultaneously exhibiting a very elusive nature in deciphering friendliness, all trademarks of several "Vampire Weekend" hit songs. "A-Punk" and "Oxford Comma" are just two prime examples of the word riddle lyrical mystique leading to potential comprehension complexities, or, simplistic, possibly intentional jumbled abstract works. An individual judgement rendered which depends primarily upon your individual method of assessment and perspective, and of course, level of "Code Cracking Skills". This meticulous attention toward injecting somewhat puzzling song lyrics into select works has become an extremely popular calling card upon which this quartet has built a rapidly growing name upon within the industry. A shrewdly penned "Avant-Garde" lyrical exercise is one way to describe it, passages which seem to be tightly shrouded in a linguistics mystery until further notice.
Although some of the witty word groupings seem unambiguous, crystal clear articulations of precise subject matter which should be easily discernible even for the casual listener, a short story or frolicking interlude which requires no closely held secret deciphering tools nor supernatural thought intercepting talents to extract true meaning and therefore, comprehended by the masses with relative ease, I personally, will not exercise the presumptive audacity to claim, as many fans and or music experts so often do, to understand the exact intent and or explicit meaning of each and every lyrical adventure. Therefore, a stern proclamation of accurate interpretation shall not be found within the context of this particular review, although speculation and good will attempts by third parties to unravel, solve, and ultimately reveal the underlying mysteries to the awaiting music worshiping universe, can at times, turn out to be exercises not only in futility, but great amusement. Brilliant, clever, merely random abstract sentences linked together at will? At this point in time, notwithstanding a welcomed miraculous corpus intactus cameo appearance by the late "Translator of all things Vampicular" namely Van Helsing, I'm only prepared to say the jury is still withholding a pending verdict.
+ QUICK BYTE + <> "EMERGING TALENT " <> By my historical calculations, measurements which appear to be linked directly to an atomic adjusted time piece coupled with perhaps the precisely chiseled and calibrated Mayan Calendar to unequivocally ensure accuracy, the emergence of a non-fungible band with such deep character, intelligence, musical prowess, and raw potential such as "Vampire Weekend", miraculously appears out of the murky audio shadows every five years or so give or take - A refreshing burst of unique energy projected unto the eagerly awaiting universe only to instigate a slight, orderly, music adjustment and revolution destined to alter the creative landscape forever - A band that under-whelms in theatrics yet outperforms & subtly mesmerizes with an abundance of talent geared primarily toward conjuring catchy, witty, larger than simplistic tunes -
Although I may be misinterpreting the very essence of "VW's" existence, in my opinion, an evaluation which is formulated from and based upon, distant, unrelated third party observation and diligent research, the entity known as "Vampire Weekend" I assume, does not necessarily engage in the conventional sit down style group brainstorming session, nor embark upon individual isolation sessions in a dark, dingy room or aloof venue in quasi conscious attempts to somehow channel song and lyric writing inspiration as many of today's artists claim they do. Their work has all the markings of songs which are conceived within a physically and physiologically conducive environment which extends above and beyond the customary music composing venues and boundaries, a bit more mystery and intrigue to the overall creative process, something more substantial and possibly even above the norm seems to be taking place. Whether I'm correct in my assumptions or otherwise, and my intuition in this regard is usually quite accurate, the end result regardless of how it's achieved, intentionally or not, is more like the unveiling of adventurous, melodic jaunts which express various meaningful subjects extracted from personal "Life Experiences". A popular source from which many artists confess to find inspiration, yet Vampire Weekend add a distinct style and flavor, unique short story narrative presentation format and feel, and shear wit to the creative mix.
To be quite honest, as a person who has invited, embraced, and adopted the fine art of music as an integral part of my life from a very early age, and although there are clearly distinct "Rock and Roll" elements incorporated, even I'm not quite sure how to classify or begin to define the overriding "Vampire Weekend" sound, and really don't think anyone else except the band members themselves could accurately or adequately do so either. Fortunately, the uncategorizable nature, means I've found totally "Different", unique talent. This statement from a person who has spent many years studying and retaining a vast amount of subject specific historical knowledge attained from personal relationships and other sources, and being the gracious recipient of a literal plethora of both public and privately released music submitted for evaluation. I've always been endowed with the innate ability to easily assess and classify all music by "Style & Genre", but not in this unique case. My best attempt at the risk of missing the mark completely would be "Classical Alternative Punk Rock". Although an emphasis would be clearly placed on "CAR" Classical Alternative Rock more than Punk. However, if you listen closely, I think all elements of the preceding, including additional secondary and tertiary influences can be found in just about all of their "Adventurous Story Telling Jaunts".
+ QUICK BYTE + <> "THE MONIKER" <> To be quite honest, I'm really not sure what the quasi-retro 80's or 90's name "Vampire Weekend" has to do in relation to the substance of the underlying band if anything, other than it's reportedly the title of a short film directed and produced by Ezra Koenig, and it appears to be a pretty good excuse to plaster a king sized, 30 foot larger than life glossy poster as live performance backdrop, depicting an attractive, preppy style, sorority girl looking somewhat bewildered, startled, a tad frightened, and more than a touch on the vulnerable side - In fear of lurking "Vampiric Manifestations"? - The fun name, unassuming stage presence, overall appearance, and of course music, also conveniently provides a sumptuously inviting subject from which writers / artists can extract a delectable story - Hence, all the aforementioned components including the strikingly interesting image coupled with an intriguing "MONIKER", also inspired the quasi-retro concept and visual style of this piece -
- Expanding Creative Horizons
Historically speaking, when most bands or artists attempt to expand their lyric writing and music making horizons by releasing songs which may follow a completely divergent path in stark contrast to an original debut, or second introductory batch containing works consistent with a particular unique style, genre, or highlighting certain talent attributes of an individual member, if the songs are not separated by vast distances from the original concept and defining overall sound, fans of the group and its core essence, will usually not experience the frustration of disenfranchisement but tend to greet the new and presumably improved upon works with a generous amount of enthusiasm, vigor, and depending upon the overall production quality, majority acceptance of the new diverging, innovative venture.
On the contrary, in my opinion, "Vampire Weekend" has already achieved maximum "Out of the Box" thinking, melody making, and song arranging with their initial forays into the music biz and I for one hope with fingers perpetually crossed, that they do not as a collective avant garde entity, deliberately try to branch out by producing risky, dramatically different sounding offerings even if audience enhancement and expansion is a primary goal. In my opinion, this could inevitably result in an inadvertent 360, landing them right back into "Common Place Mainstream Designation" trying desperately to smooth out a disappointed and potentially disgruntled fan base. Notwithstanding an abundance of unintentional, subtle distortions, augmentations, and or deviations from the core element which should be acceptable. Vampire Weekend is already so far out of the proverbial box with song, lyric, and melody making that any attempted expansion outside this unique music making realm, a mystical zone which has earned them the right to be placed upon the upper echelon of new acts, could unfortunately for us dedicated and appreciative listeners, land them precipitously "Inside the Box", right next to all other secondary and tertiary musical contenders.
- Stage Presence & Live Performance
There are no elaborate, sensationalistic aspects contained within their live stage performance nor grandiose psychedelically influenced visual aides, nor bellowing pyrotechnics spewing sprites of rainbow colored essence, nor exceedingly loud spark spraying concussion or mega decibel outbursts, just the towering, eyecatching trademark portrait which symbolizes the simplistic, highly addictive, dangerously infectious nature of the underlying music. Just to reiterate in no uncertain terms, the live performance is definitely not "Pink Floyd" revisited, so don't expect a multi billion dollar mega visual or theatrical spectacular. But by now, the lack of flamboyance per se, is expected and perfectly acceptable for those whom appreciate genuine music originality above all else, in which "VW", by this measure, lives up to all expectations.
NOTE: When listening to "VW" for the very first time either live or otherwise, be prepared for the inevitable soliloquy of intermittent yodeling, which is strategically inserted into choice selections by Ezra in an apparent substitution for lyrics, or, to express an alternate feeling or emotion in an imaginative way within the overall song context. This universal vocalization technique practiced in various forms throughout history, is strikingly different in texture as implemented by Ezra and projected as a somewhat abstract vocal instrument in some "VW" tunes. It might even seem somewhat gratuitous or over extended in usage at first listening, but if given the chance, once you become acclimated to the obscure effect, it does have the tendency to grow on you incrementally in a positive way after the first set of live tunes, or a few spins of the disc in the privacy of your living room. Ever so slightly off key, yet the creative nuance, just like the same effect applied to, and generated by grinding guitars and bass in the contrasting thrash metal genre, lends a certain degree of authenticity, raw essence, and audio edge.
+ QUICK BYTE + <> FIRST IMPRESSIONS <> "Vampire Weekend" "Bites" with a new, distinct set of pearlies inflicting minimal physical contusion yet instigates a profuse psychological addiction to the melodies fostering unavoidable symptoms potentially causing a slow, systemic, uncontrollable attraction to the songs - A growing appreciation for their melody making talents which to my knowledge, notwithstanding a consultation and fifteenth century natural remedy administered via seance' courtesy of the late great Van Helsing, there is no cure -
- "Vampire Weekend" Future
It might be a bit premature to express an excessively exuberant excitement in anticipation of watching Vampire Weekend's career unfold as their inevitable musical contributions continue to flow unto a receptive, loyal, and presumably expanding core fan base in the coming years. As an observer, avid follower, and someone who simply enjoys and appreciates the offbeat style, past experience dictates a realistic expectation revolving around the proven fact that you can never accurately predict the different creative avenues which will ultimately ensue, resulting in a future manifestation of new songs which might continue to please, surprise, or even dissapoint eagerly awaiting fans. This is especially true as it pertains to highly impressionable and ever evolving "Youth Oriented" talent, a specific category which I usually express a justified tendency to classify as shallow, immature in nature, and essentially "Radioactive" to the ears.
Vampire Weekend, in my opinion, should be classified as an exception to this rule. Hence, considering the previously mentioned realizations, I anticipate with a somewhat tempered enthusiasm level as it pertains to forthcoming future audio roll outs, but I would surely be exhibiting disingenuous tendencies if I did not express my eagerness to see this talented foursome embark upon minor creative detours into slightly more substantial territory such as the highly combustible political arena sometime in the near future. My intuition dictates the melodies would be captivatingly creative, the song structure sharp and concise, and I believe the spoken lyrical word, performed exclusively in Ezra's "Narrative" style, would be quite interesting to say the least. A "Vampire" "Public Servant" creative fusion, what could possibly be more appropriate?
With my personal opinion, celebratory exercise, and exclusive concert photo stream now archived in the virtual and tangible books, a final thought. Although the fundamental integrity of "Vampire Weekend's" originality, creative process, and genuine "Avant-Garde" proclivities should in my opinion be maintained and preserved at all cost, I firmly believe all loyal fans including yours truly, would overwhelmingly approve of minor innovative pirouettes or augmentations delicately performed around the parameters of the core sound. Mild arrangement experimentations and subtle deviations from the primary element, without major structural compromise, should be fine and acceptable to the masses for slight alterations to quench a seething creative hunger if you must. But please, we as collective global admirers and acceptors of remarkable abstract arts, beg of thee profusely in unison to abstain from embarking upon major musical excursions which could dramatically change the primary underlying fundamental components which define your academically influenced musical genius - A. Prime -
Although the astute, well versed young musicians don't appear to be disintegrating upon dawn "Nocturnal" entities at first glance, once the late evening show had concluded, the weary band members did seem to mysteriously vanish from the stage in great haste as they precariously wandered one by one into the emerging shadows of a wilting moon - Hardly a concrete sign of "Vampicular" influence? -
- All Articles Written / Designed / Created By Alternative Prime -
- Original / Custom Photos Created By Alternative Prime -
<> T H A N K S + F O R + V I S I T I N G <> I sincerely hope you've enjoyed the EXPERIENCE <>