Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend

It's not unusual for a new band to pop up seemingly out of nowhere and take the blogosphere by storm -- these days it happens at least every month or two -- but in 2008, Vampire Weekend ballooned out beyond cult status to become bona fide rock stars. That's pretty ironic considering that you couldn't find a band that seems less like "rock star" material if you tried. Led by singer/guitarist Ezra Koenig, the band came together when the members were all at Columbia University together. This in itself might have been enough to inspire an anti-intellectual backlash, but the fact that they made smart pop music with brainy, inspired lyrics evoking vintage Talking Heads, and that they assimilated a South African guitar style and worldbeat grooves into their music, like some bastard child of Paul Simon and the English Beat, drew plenty of fire from rockist detractors.

Nevertheless, Vampire Weekend embraced its roots unabashedly, adopting a preppy look onstage and writing songs that incorporated unapologetic -- if tongue-in-cheek -- upper middle-class imagery. It all translated to Gold status and a Top 20 placement for their self-titled '08 debut album. Two years on, the follow-up, Contra, found them pushing forward even further with the ideas they explored the last time out. The end result: even greater aesthetic and commercial success. This time around they scored a No. 1 album and an infectious, frenetic single ("Cousins") that did better for the band than anything on their debut album. ~Jim Allen


Photo Credit:

Margarita Gonzalez/

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