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Monday, March 10, 2008

What an Irritating Buzz

posted by on March 10 at 14:07 PM

I really enjoy overhearing my roommate and his girlfriend argue about Vampire Weekend. She loves them, he doesn’t. It doesn’t sound like he’s ever going to like them either. I was talking to friends last night who liked them too, me… not so much. I downloaded their album to hear what all the fuss was about and didn’t make it more than two songs in before I made that Clipse “yeach” sound and turned it off. For me, my dislike for the band comes form a past grudge that has already been the cause of several musical quarrels – the fact that I hate “Graceland” by Paul Simon. I like Simon and Garfunkel just fine, but “Graceland” has always been like a torture record to me. I’m not entirely sure what it is about the album I dislike so much (one drunken argument in my living room devolved into me shouting at the stereo, “Leave Africa out of this Paul Simon!”), but it’s stuck with me since an early age and currently shows no sign of wavering. So here comes Vampire Weekend, lauded by Pitchfork, given the cover of Spin for the release of a debut album. The next big buzz band, and they sound exactly like fucking “Graceland.” They canceled some Florida dates for a chance to play Saturday Night Live last weekend:

That’s what these dudes look like? I try not to rely too strongly on movie archetypes, but every ounce of my being tells me that these are the guys you root against in the big fraternity boat race. These are the guys who rig the big downhill skiing competition. Why is this stupid band getting so much (positive) attention? Am I the only person who hates “Graceland,” and thus by default, Vampire Weekend?

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I can't wait to see them at SXSW, blasted drunk and with a fresh shit in my hand. *toss*

(...but damn, that's the point, isn't it!?)

Posted by Brandon | March 10, 2008 2:21 PM

hey, whatever happened to clap your hands and say yeah?

Posted by tomo | March 10, 2008 2:34 PM

I offer myself as evidence that one can both dislike Vampire Weekend and like Graceland.

How is this? Well, I consider Graceland to be a singular musical work, the quirky by-product of the mid-life doldrums in an otherwise distinguished career (I do have to give him props for working with Lady Smith Black Mambazzo). However, that unique kind of lighthing cannot and should not strike twice, thus my disdain for Vampire Weekend.

Posted by Hernandez | March 10, 2008 2:35 PM

I've only seen/heard them on SNL, but that was more than enough. They bother the living shit out of me for all your reasons and more.

Just from this video:

Singer, stop trying to be so coy.

Keyboardist, WTF are you wearing...that actually goes for the rest of them, because it solidifies that it wasn't just Simon's music they're copying.

Posted by MK | March 10, 2008 2:55 PM

I'm with #3, here. The reason I do not like Vampire Weekend is because their entire being is a poor re-creation on Paul Simon's record. Which I happen to like!

Posted by dan | March 10, 2008 2:56 PM

THANK GOD the Vampire Weekend backlash has caught on so quickly. I love Graceland, but I just can't handle this band. I think Paul Simon deserves some credit for actually recruiting musicians that were a part of the culture he was drawing ideas from. At least there was some air of authenticity. Vampire Weekend just sound like a mediocre indie band trying to play Afrobeat but coming closer to American ska.

and as much as i hate to judge a band by how they look... well....

Posted by brian cook | March 10, 2008 2:58 PM

for anyone who hasn't paid attention to past indie rock band timelines, here is a fairly accurate look at what will happen to vampire weekend:

* vw gains loyal fan base.
* vw release a critically acclaimed album that sells less than the latest album by nelly during its first week.
* vw joins a package tour curated by mtv.
* vw's music is used on a popular television drama. itunes sales for one song skyrocket, though album sales still stay low.
* people who bought into vw after their critical acclaim now resent the fact other people now like them. they post a blog about.
* vw play a moderately sized venue tour, it is filled with undesirable 'common' people, one time fans are further annoyed.
* their music is included on the soundtrack for the latest sandra bullock movie.
* vw record and release a new album, it is overlooked by the critics due to a new debut album by a new indie rock band with the same fans that deserted vw.

circle of life. be sure to jump off the bandwagon at the right time to maintain your indie cred.

Posted by cosby | March 10, 2008 3:06 PM

Ugh! That is not at all something I enjoy. Taking a stand, or rather, being of the opinion that you HAVE to have an opinion on these guys, just ads unwarranted validity.

Rarely does anything organic happen at this level of the music biz. Somebody with some clout really thinks they'll sell, so they're getting a big push. It'll pass soon enough.

Posted by Dougsf | March 10, 2008 3:06 PM


Posted by christopher hong | March 10, 2008 3:16 PM

apparently VW classify their music as "Upper West Side Soweto"

it's almost like the first verse of Holiday In Cambodia was written with them in mind

Posted by brian cook | March 10, 2008 3:42 PM

apparently VW classify their music as "Upper West Side Soweto"

it's almost like the first verse of Holiday In Cambodia was written with them in mind

Posted by brian cook | March 10, 2008 3:42 PM

@7 - I guess by definition a "vampire weekend" can only suck for a few days before its time has past.

Posted by Jeff Kirby | March 10, 2008 4:17 PM

I agree with Chris. well put, sir.

Posted by "Lee" | March 10, 2008 5:07 PM

I like their music a lot. It's catchy. I don't care about any of the rest of it: the clothes, the background, the similarities to Paul Simon, blah blah blah. These complaints are just tedious and say far more about you and your biases than it does about them.

Some of you hipsters really should learn the difference between hype and honest appreciation. Hype is an overused term and often just not accurate. VW is not a product of hype, as in, some label A&R guys promoting them, even though they don't really care for the music themselves. Virtually every positive comment I've seen about VW comes from people who seem to sincerely enjoy their music, and that's quite a few people. So just deal with it, ok? Or go ahead and continue being pretentious douchebags, if that's your thing.

Posted by rk | March 10, 2008 5:09 PM

@14: Some of us haters are just as sincere in how grating, obnoxious, and offensive we find VW's music. The fact that it's music is objectionable to us both aesthetically and because of it's flippant cultural appropriation just makes the band all the more irritating.

I don't think one needs to be pretentious to dislike the band, it's adulation of moneyed leisure, it's bland similarity to other artists, or their problematic ethno-musical influences. One only need pay attention.

Posted by christopher hong | March 10, 2008 5:24 PM

Also @15: calling us hipsters seems to be misguided, as it's affluent end of the American Apparel set that really seems to be VW's demographic. For the most part, most of the cranks commenting on this post are bitter punks and post punks.

Posted by christopher hong | March 10, 2008 5:28 PM

hey rk,
just something to consider: Vampire Weekend is the first band EVER to do a photo shoot for the cover of Spin before their debut album even came out. that seems like fabricated hype to me. let's not forget that the album has barely been out a month and they've already played SNL. if you like the band, that's awesome, but i think it's fair for people to be annoyed by an "indie" band that's inundated the market without a grassroots fanbase.

and chris... very well stated, sir.

Posted by brian cook | March 10, 2008 6:01 PM

@15 &16 Huzzah!!

Posted by MK | March 10, 2008 6:15 PM

VW = Chronic Masturbators

Posted by Mac | March 10, 2008 6:25 PM

DUDE i hate Graceland, always have, SO much. VW don't quite conjure the level of hate I have for that album, or the Cult, but I am definitely not getting why theyre so hot right now. I described unremarkable-but-Fader-fawned over MC Jay Electronica(god that name sucks) as the Vampire Weekend of rap recently, and it struck me enough to repeat it here

Posted by lar | March 10, 2008 6:41 PM

i like vampire weekend.

i do not like graceland.

so there.

Posted by ri | March 10, 2008 8:14 PM

i like vampire weekend a whole lot

totally get why people don't

totally don't get why VW haters are so bent on converting others...

oh yeah, cause haters need validation. they even hate themselves!

i'm glad that VW is a pop sensation that at least made an ALBUM. consistent themes and catchy songs. lost art, right? right?

Posted by ndrwmtsn | March 10, 2008 8:20 PM

ohya, lar: have you actually listened to the album? don't lie to me...

Posted by ndrwmtsn | March 10, 2008 8:21 PM

This is great! Finally the reverse-hype backlash emerges.

@2 - Tomo you're right this hype and backlash reminds me a lot of CYHSY (who I dug) but these guys actually have songs with discernable stories and ideas (albeat controversial ones). CYHSY, looking back on it were kinda dumb, but they at least recorded their debut on their own (i think), and that's pretty dope.

Some of the arguments against VW are kinda bunkish though.

*They dress wrong? Come on, there are a million other preppy, post-preppy, ironic preppy, and geek sheiks to hate on too, at least be consistent. Good clothes do not a good band make.

*They have re-appropriated black music? Ha! Everyone who matters has done that!

*They are educated and it shows in their lyrics? Ouch, there goes the Decemberists and John Vanderslice and Talking Heads and a million others.

*It's perhaps too poppy and forward? That's a taste issue I guess. All I can say is sometimes it's refreshing to hear a band with songs that are really fucking easy to get into.

Matson, you like Alanis Morisette, so your opinion doesnt matter.

Posted by E | March 10, 2008 11:21 PM

VW would be fine if the songs had any kind of long term listenablity. I liked them for a month or two and then I just became tired of the simplicity.

I hope then make a ton of money and then move to africa where they can start making really troubled adult contemporary.

And I really don't think the trust fund/American Apparel crowd bothers with such mundane music. We do drugs and listen to bangers.

This is college rock for the publicly literate, socially timid scene.

Posted by erik | March 11, 2008 2:06 AM

I'm astonished that this band was not a creation of the Disney Channel. Anyone digging this over age twelve should be too busy taking a long, sober look in the mirror to be getting their friends in on the action.

This looks and sounds like what happens in a basement in Orlando when they guy who created N'Sync takes too much ecstasy and forgets to check his insulin.

P.S. Kudos to VW on the vanity keyboardist. Maybe if the guy wasn't too busy trying to overcome his unwieldy South African scarfdress, he could play some damn music.

Posted by schork | March 11, 2008 5:59 AM

You all need to get out more or stop listening to music altogether. Another cute band bites the dust and eats a dick on Slog.

Posted by Biggie J | March 11, 2008 8:19 AM

I'm right there with you, Jeff.

@7 - It seems most of us haters weren't on the VW bandwagon to begin with. It would be nice if VW's "indie cred" actually included credibility – non-stop touring, working hard, building a fanbase, growing musically as a band, etc. But yes, that is the cycle of the hyped band life.

Posted by JJ Hellgate | March 11, 2008 9:09 AM

I don't have all that strong of feelings on VW one way or the other, but the whole instant ubiquity thing is just weird. I see them as a one-song-on-a-mix-cd kind of band. I guess that mix CD just managed to make it into an A&R guy's hand.

Posted by Drew | March 11, 2008 2:24 PM

Ah, but-- they taught me what an "Oxford Comma" is. NPR taught me who they were. My middle-class parents taught me about NPR and my mom loves Graceland. Trickle-down.

The ivy-league kids need something to listen to so they can stop feeling like they hafta be gangsta in this modern world. It's okay, Biff and Jody-- it's okay to be white, sweatery, and inbred.

Posted by Mr Catnip | March 11, 2008 2:30 PM

i wholeheartedly agree with #14. it's fun and catchy music, and i actually prefer that to the pretentious overhyped snoozefest that fleet foxes have become.

Posted by the girlfriend | March 11, 2008 2:36 PM

What I find interesting about Vampire Weekend is how polarized opinions of them are. You'll either find them refreshing and catchy or completely loath their existence. Perhaps this has something to do with how well one relates to their image and sound. I own a pair of boat shoes, play tennis, have a degree from an elite private school, and enjoy my Sunday morning Bloody Mary immensely. Liking a band that references the Oxford comma and Lil Jon within the same song was, for me, almost inevitable. On the flip side, if you haven’t led a life of privilege or you struggle with punctuation, it makes sense that you’d hate a band that wear their large vocabularies and Columbia degrees on the sleeves of their cable-knit sweaters.

Or maybe there’s something not quite so vain behind the dichotomy in opinions. It could have something to do with how we relate to music and the role it plays in our own lives. If music is vitally important to you, something that structures your day-to-day existence, I can see how a band that so flippantly draws from musical genres and artists could be painful to listen to. Similarly, songs about college romance that mention kefir spilled on keffiyeh could come across as down-right grating.

There are a lot of reasons I listen to music and many reasons I like the music that I do (and, yes, for the record I do enjoy Graceland and later Talking Heads), but I think there’s a common theme: my own interests and background. I enjoy literature, so I listen to lit-rock. I like dancing and having a good time, so I love funk music. (I wonder what my covert love of Southern Rock says about me.) Getting back to the point, maybe liking or disliking Vampire Weekend is something of a litmus test for who we are and the way in which we relate to music. Or maybe not.

To summarize:

Like Vampire Weekend + Like Graceland = Preppy

Dislike Vampire Weekend + Like Graceland = Hippie

Like Vampire Weekend + Dislike Graceland = Douchey

Dislike Vampire Weekend + Dislike Graceland = Kirby

Posted by SRS | March 11, 2008 2:37 PM

they remind me of haircut 100.

Posted by choking on fumes | March 11, 2008 2:54 PM

hey, let's leave fleet foxes out of this!

Posted by tomo | March 11, 2008 2:56 PM

why does there have to be a motive behind hating or liking this band? why can't it just be sincere? I found their EP grotesque. big deal. moving on...

some of the pro-arguements are kinda reading like "Vampire Weekend is firing the most recent shot on the side of rich white people in the long standing Class and Race War, and I for one am totally behind it". awesome, dudes. way to go.

Posted by "Lee" | March 11, 2008 5:14 PM

@ #23

yes, on your advice. thanks, dick!

Posted by lar | March 11, 2008 5:19 PM

Bitter punk here!

Part of me thinks, say, this is catchy! And kinda ska-ish, which can be fun...

But yeah, I got a "Graceland" whiff off of it, too, and that did make me a little grumbly.

Grumble grumble grumble.

As for who they are and what they're about, er... got my doubts... but trying to not get involved...

Posted by CP | March 11, 2008 6:21 PM

Vampire Weekend: welcome the new Strokes. Hoo fucking ray everyone shut the fuck up.

Posted by Brian | March 13, 2008 4:49 AM

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