Talking about music has the tendency to made me feel old. I’ve been living abroad and music is an easy subject when making new friends. A question that comes up often is “what was the best show you’ve seen?” Growing up in Southern California I was lucky to catch a lot of cool concerts, but when I mention going to the first-ever Postal Service gig when they didn’t yet have their shit together or becoming teary-eyed when Björk and Matmos silenced the Hollywood Bowl crowd by opening with “Unravel,” I remember that those shows happened 14 years ago. Where did the time go?
With that said, it pleases me that Vampire Weekend’s first album has yet to turn ten. When I first saw the “A-Punk” video in 2008, I was sort of turned off by the prep school polo shirts and pink cardigans. The song sounded derivative to me and the whole thing smacked of rich kid, Ivy League irony. The more I heard it, however, the more the synth and organ sounds and the clever lyrics won me over. When the album came out a month or so later, I was fully converted. They’ve only gotten better with each album, but it will be interesting to see what happens with multi-instrumentalist and erstwhile producer Rostam out of the fold.
“Giving Up the Gun” is one of my favorite songs from Contra. Every element is a hook on its own, but together they form a slick and catchy piece of pop brilliance. The irreverent video is similarly sleek yet light-hearted, featuring a left-field cameo from RZA as a mystical tennis referee along with appearances from Lil’ Jon, Jake Gyllenhaal, and a Jonas Brother. Most people don’t know this song was originally a demo by Ezra Koenig’s university rap group L’Homme Run, which you can hear on Soundcloud. Fitting that Vampire Weekend was the first song stuck in my head for the reboot of this site as its name is taken from a song by Ezra’s sometimes collaborator and former bandmate Dave Longstreth.
“But if the chance remained to see those better days, I’d cut the cannons down.”