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Album Picks: Vampire Weekend, Small Black, Eluvium, Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood, Classixx, Wild Nothing

Posted by Billy Gil, May 14, 2013 10:28am | Post a Comment

Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires Of The City

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Every time the world turns against Vampire Weekend, they have a way of turning around and shattering expectations. From the get-go, the band was dogged with Strokes comparisons and scoffs of Ivy League grads pilfering African music while singing about rich people. But none of those things could stop people from enjoying their immensely enjoyable first album, their underrated second one and now their third pop opus, Modern Vampires of the City. It’s low-key like Contra, but Modern Vampires’ hooks are silkier and more ingratiating. “Step” waltzes with a gorgeous collegiate melody, featuring some of the finest singing to date by Ezra Koenig, who’s finally mastered that Paul Simon trill. He also extends his voice beyond its comfort zone, taking on Buddy Holly-style hiccupping and extending his range up and down (aided by digital skewing) while the band rocks a solid shuffle on the cleverly titled “Diane Young.” It’s one of their best singles yet. Koenig’s lyrics, too, retain their wittiness and specificity, though they are open enough to make your own implications — “though we live on the U.S. dollar, you and me we got our own sense of time,” he sings memorably in “Hannah Hunt,” which ends with a beautiful, well-earned climax in which Koenig tears his lungs out belting. The band mostly stays supportive, only going full-tilt on a few songs, like the galloping “Worship You,” which allows Koenig to spit verse at lightning speed, or pulling out grand pop moments in “Unbelievers” and the uber-strange “Ya Hey,” which pairs its intricate melodies with hyper-warped vocal tricks. Modern Vampires doesn’t go for obvious, occasionally obscuring itself in too much oddity and not ripping loose often enough. But few bands at this level are still taking these many chances, and pulling it off more often than not. Vampire Weekend’s freewheeling Modern Vampires of the City firmly perches the band back in the top echelon of bands making music today.

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out today 3/4...bauhaus...michael mcdonald...

Posted by Brad Schelden, March 4, 2008 11:29pm | Post a Comment

A new Michael McDonald and Bauhaus release in the same day! How lucky can we be? I really can't think of two more different musicians than Peter Murphy and Michael McDonald-- but I am actually excited that they both have albums out today. Bauhaus is one of those bands that I can't really imagine not existing-- like Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Cure, Joy Division, Depeche Mode, & The Smiths, it is hard to imagine my life without these bands. I wonder what bands could have replaced these bands in my life if the members of these bands had made other decisions and not decided to become musicians. I don't even know what I would have listened to in High School or what I would have talked about with my friends if not for these bands. So many friendships and relationships were built on the love of these bands. Bauhaus only released four albums in the early 80's, but they managed to make a huge impact on me and many others. Like the Smiths, the band broke up before I had ever heard of them. It is hard to believe, but this is the first Bauhaus studio album in 25 years. The new album is called Go Away White and is released today.

Bauhaus broke up in 1983 but the members of the band have all remained busy over the years. I was a big fan of both the solo Peter Murphy and Love & Rockets. These were the albums I grew up with. It was not until later that I went back to discover the brilliant albums of Bauhaus. Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins went on to create Tones on Tail after the break up of Bauhaus. David J joined them for Love & Rockets, which was basically Bauhaus without Peter Murphy. The self titled album of Love & Rockets from 1989 remains one of my favorite albums. It had such a major impact on me when it first came out. It was one of those albums I still remember going to the store to buy and listening to over and over again. I was obsessed with this album. Peter Murphy continued to release solo albums over the last couple decades as well. He released Deep in 1990 and Holy Smoke in 1992. These albums basically framed my High School years. They also still remain two of my favorites. I am a bit surprised that I am still not sick of the song "Cuts You Up," but I can still listen to it over and over again and love it just as much as I did in 1990. I am actually listening to it right now. I still can picture the entire video whenever I listen to it.

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