Jun 1 2014

SXSW 2014 – Day 1 (Feat. Misun, Tokyo Police Club, Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar & Ryan Hemsworth)

SXSW DJ Cougarmicrobes.com  1024x819 SXSW 2014   Day 1 (Feat. Misun, Tokyo Police Club, Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar & Ryan Hemsworth)

Cougar Microbes headed to Austin, TX to experience SXSW 2014 in all it’s glory. Over the course of 4 days we witnessed some phenomenal performances in venues all around town covering every genre and sub-genre imaginable. As we had anticipated in our festival preview piece some of the biggest highlights came from those artists we weren’t expecting.

This is how it went…

Misun SXSW SXSW 2014   Day 1 (Feat. Misun, Tokyo Police Club, Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar & Ryan Hemsworth)

Misun -B3SCI Presents: SXSW Day Party @ Red Eyed Fly

After unofficially kicking off our festival experience the previous night with a mariachi band playing Beatles covers we were well and truly ready to start SXSW 2014 and what better way to do so than Misun‘s blend of sleepy electronica and chilled R&B. The trio hailing from LA by way of DC definitely got heads nodding and in front woman Misun Wojcik they possess an authentic star in the making.

SXSW 2014 B3SCI Presents Tokyo Police Club SXSW 2014   Day 1 (Feat. Misun, Tokyo Police Club, Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar & Ryan Hemsworth)

Tokyo Police Club – B3SCI Presents: SXSW Day Party @ Red Eyed Fly

After an effective hunt for food we returned to the Red Eyed Fly to catch Tokyo Police Club. With the sun shining bright the Canadian outfit’s alternative pop anthems rose above creating a feel good vibe that transferred to a receptive audience who crowded around the stage. Peppering their set with songs from their most recent release ‘Forcefield‘ you would be hard pressed to find a more contagious band to dance along to.

SXSW Schoolboy Q cougarmicrobes.com  1024x672 SXSW 2014   Day 1 (Feat. Misun, Tokyo Police Club, Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar & Ryan Hemsworth)

Schoolboy Q – ACL Live at the Moody Theatre

A swift bike ride over to The Moody Theatre meant we arrived just in time to catch two of the acts we were most anticipating back to back. First up was Schoolboy Q who warranted a bizarre guerilla marketing campaign by Top Dawg Entertainment outside the venue involving scantily clad women in balaclavas handing out masks.

Once inside we were a little disappointed to have been assigned tickets in the seated area but this subsided very quickly as the Los Angeles native hit the stage like a man possessed. Almost immediately the venue began smelling like an Amsterdam coffee shop and the audience reacted to every word Q spat from the stage. Largely playing material from his recently released ‘Oxymoron” album the rapper lending authenticity to the rappers prickly persona. A particularly angry rendition of “Gangsta” was stellar all but this didn’t deter him from scolding the audience if he felt they weren’t responding to his liking. While stomping off stage his exclamation that he was off “to see Kanye and Jay-Z perform” could have been interpreted as a slight to label mate Kendrick Lamar but after such a superb set we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

SXSW Kendrick Lamar Cougarmicrobes.com  1024x765 SXSW 2014   Day 1 (Feat. Misun, Tokyo Police Club, Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar & Ryan Hemsworth)

Kendrick Lamar – ACL Live at the Moody Theatre

So far the day had been a steady crescendo of one amazing performance after the next, but to catch Kendrick Lamar in the flesh was one of our most anticipated moments. ‘Good Kid, M.a.a.D City‘ is one of those albums that grows better with each listen and deserves a spot in this decades best releases.

The Compton MC hit the stage in fairly unassuming fashion sporting a grey camouflaged jacket and beanie hat but there was no doubting of his superstar status. With the audience in a near frenzy screaming every word back he easily settled into his comfort zone playing each track expertly while leading his fans in a succession of highlights. Tracks like “The Art Of Peer Pressure” and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” came through in particular bombastic fashion demonstrating a great dynamic between the rapper and his crowd. Never looking out of place on the huge stage regardless of whether he rapping acapella or leading his fansinto yet another epic singalong. With his music soaked in our collective minds there were gonna be very few acts throughout this week who could reach the level of this amazing performance.

SXSW Ryan Hemsworth Cougarmicrobes.com .JPG 1024x682 SXSW 2014   Day 1 (Feat. Misun, Tokyo Police Club, Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar & Ryan Hemsworth)

Ryan Hemsworth – Lustre Pearl Presented By Soundcloud

We end a glorious first day of SXSW Music with up and coming Canadian DJ Ryan Hemsworth offering his excellent hybrid hip hop, R&B and dance sound. Mixing familiar hits with little known tracks in seamless fashion allowed him to get the crowd on his side from the get go and he didn’t lose them until the end. Despite his young age Ryan is almost a SXSW veteran by now and it shows with a confident performance soaked with an endless succession of potential earworms.

doublecougar SXSW 2014   Day 1 (Feat. Misun, Tokyo Police Club, Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar & Ryan Hemsworth)


Jan 12 2014

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Chance The Rapper – ‘Acid Rap’

Chance The Rapper Acid Rap Albums of 2013 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Chance The Rapper   Acid Rap

Taking over from Kendrick Lamar as this year’s biggest rap breakthrough Chance The Rapper offered up one of 2013′s most exciting albums while seemingly ignoring everything that was “hot” around him. The samples retain an old school quality that allows for Chances upbeat verses to shine.

All of the hype is warranted. All of the praise is deserved. Chance the Rapper, not Kanye, put out the best rap album by a Chicagoan this year. No knocks to Ye as he still made my list, but what Chance did with this thing must be applauded. The cohesiveness of the album, matched with its stellar production and features, and Chance’s originality in his tortured crooning and wacky sing-rapping is one of the best things that happened in 2013 musically. It’s acts like this that are ensuring that new rappers in 2014 and beyond cannot expect to be taken seriously, unless they’re willing to bring something seriously great to the table” – Daniel Benny 

“‘Acid Rap’ was this young rapper’s second self-released mix tape and it put Chance in the spotlight for being the next rapper to watch. The album is surpassingly upbeat which is always refreshing in a genre that is dominated by put-downs. Acid rap was released right before summer and it” – Robin Petering

TRACKS:

doublecougar Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Chance The Rapper   Acid Rap


Jan 9 2014

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Run The Jewels – ‘Run The Jewels’

Run The Jewels Run The Jewels albums of 2013 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Run The Jewels   Run The Jewels

When El-P and Killer Mike combine there is very little than they can do wrong. The eponymous ‘Run The Jewels‘ album was released for free online and seemed like the total antithesis to the previous year’s big Kanye/Jay-Z‘s ‘Watch The Throne‘ collab  proving that if you had any hip-hop aspirations you should have probably sat 2013 out. Case in hand the video for their ‘A Christmas Fucking Miracle.

In a year that saw high profile releases from Kanye, Jay-Z, J. Cole, Drake, Earl, & Tyler & more, it’s El-P & Killer Mike who outclassed them. 10 Tracks of straight bangers, each one as lively as the last, filled with tough-talk, brash call outs of the status quo, and beats that make me have to give hip hop producer of the year honors to El-P for the second straight year“. - Daniel Benny

20140107 034257 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Run The Jewels   Run The Jewels

TRACKS:

doublecougar Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Run The Jewels   Run The Jewels


Jan 9 2014

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Kanye West – ‘Yeezus’

Kanye West Yeezus albums of 2013 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Kanye West   Yeezus

Love him or hate him Kanye West succeeded in simultaneously being the most talked about and the most outspoken artist in 2013. While many of us were eager for a follow up to 2010′s brilliant ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy no one fully expected the barrage that is ‘Yeezus‘.

We’ve waxed lyrical about it and we’ve compared his record to other Kardashian romancer Lamar Odom but here is why the Cougar team loved it.

If there was a land where an artist’s talent was to equal his/her ego, Kanye West would most certainly be the King. The self ­proclaimed ‘creative genius’ once again tops my list of best albums of the year, and with the humbly named ‘Yeezus‘ proves that you can copulate with a Kardashian and name your child as a direction yet still remain on top. Yeezus‘ is completely different from his previous work, and from anything that had previously been done, yes I mean by ANYONE. It perfectly represents him though:  angry on ‘New Slaves‘ and ‘Black Skinhead’.  Extravagant, pioneering, grandiloquent on ‘ I am a God‘, and yes, even funny. This album also proves that he can mix genres like no other, but also bring people together like no other merging electronic music, hip hop, rock, jazz and punk gathering genius from all around the world including the best of the french electronic scene (Daft Punk, Brodinski, Gesaffelstein), Brit DJ/producer Hudson Mohawke and his collaborative project TNGHT, and contributions from indie darling Justin Vernon and R&B hard hitters like Uncle Charlie Wilson and Frank Ocean” – Olivia

“‘Yeezus‘ mighty “On Sight” kicks off the album with the angry Kanye beats we knew he was about to lash out at us at any moment. About a minute in everything comes to a halt with an angelic sample of Holy Name of Mary Choral Family singing “Oh, he gives us what we need. It may not be what we want.” Perfectly summing up Kanye‘s understanding of why he believes he was put on this earth, and that he truly considers himself to be a God of music.

An album of mostly heavy synth beats ‘Yeezus‘ holds true to Kanye‘s unique craft. The best display on the album, “Blood on the Leaves” opens with the haunting Nina Simone sample, piquing curiosity only to guide you right back into Yeezy‘s dark underworld. The bottom line: Kanye refuses to let anyone see him as anything other than brilliantly out of his mind“. – Jabes

This dark album was sometimes a challenge, but I mean that as a compliment. It’s gritty production and forceful performances really take you into the head of one of music’s most creative souls. “Black Skinhead” was ferocious but at the same time intriguing. The great use of vocal samples and futuristic synthesizers compliment the danceable yet artistic pieces of rage in this modern masterpiece“. – T.R. Wicks

“Its hard to classify ‘Yeezus‘ as just an album. It is much more than that. Starting with the SNL performances, to the cryptic guerrilla marketing, then the album, then the aftermath… In the previous month, Kanye released the video for “Bound 2” which rapidly went viral in combination with the James Franco/Seth Rogen spoof*. Kanye also went on a morning radio rampage claiming to be the ” No. 1 most impactful artist of our generation” and “Shakespeare in the flesh.” Unfortunately, I think he may be correct. The album lives up to the hype. Its dark. It’s creative. It’s heavy. It’s sexy.

* I have a theory that the spoof was Kanye organized/commissioned. The exact frame-by-frame tribute came out too quickly and was too good. This also wouldn’t be out of Kanye character” - Robin Petering

20140107 034257 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Kanye West   Yeezus

TRACKS:

 

doublecougar Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Kanye West   Yeezus


Oct 26 2013

No. 1 On Why New Music is More Important Than All

3 AM, slouching further into the pit of my office chair, which begins to feel more like a bag of rocks by hour 5 of my night shift. 3 more hours chatting with Indianstart-up” companies hawking chat button prices. I am the only soul in the office (well at least in my immediate area). Me-time and work-time are converging as I sift through identical blog re-posts, message board threads, and YouTube links for buried treasure. Then, something shines through the dirt, and sucks me into a trance in its glow.

You would not believe the unassuming Jew in my OkCupid profile and me at this point were one in the same, knocking over my chair as I jam, bouncing around the room. This soul that channels the earnest funk of Erykah with the youthful exuberance and flair of Rihanna, with a little something extra, something now. I’m sprung.

Now you might not have gotten down with the video above, but the sentiment still remains. How this new music can feel so familiar, take me further than I’ve ever been, and surprise me in doing so.

You know the vanguard of this attribute. Virtually every Kanye West album, with its promise to be a hodgepodge time capsule of Pop Art. There’s Fiona Apple, who weaves anthems in her own bubble of isolation and self inspired spontaneity. And Flying Lotus, who might be one of the most important doing it on his turf of post-Dilla beat making. The ability to have two feet in different plains, one familiar and one unfamiliar, traversing past border lines set by their predecessors.

You know them by the type of buzz that is generated before an album leaks. It’s not just a symptom of popularity and hype like any old album, it’s those times when critics and writers are stumbling over themselves to decipher meaning from clues, to predict futures, to grasp straws at where they’ll go. One need not peer further back than when this summer and the buzz campaign surrounding ‘Random Access Memories’. And that’s because it’s not just the anticipation of hearing the evolution of a musician, it’s for the oracle of where all the music surrounding it is evolving.

Certainly not all that’s new succeeds, and in fact most hyperbole about new music is drivel, predicated on a need for just that, news. Yet no matter how off base a blogger might be about Drake’s new album (on which my verdict is still out), his risks and successes will permeate throughout the hip hop stratosphere. “Started—“ is a radio staple now, but when it debuted in February, it was noted for its uniqueness among Drake’s catalog. And just like that, a drop of something new is added to the bubbling aftermath that is music.

New music (to me) is an amalgamation of the influences and experiences of the culture and its residing artists, transforming spontaneously. It’s as unpredictable as a hand stretching through the wardrobe to grasp something from a different realm, bringing it back for us to see. These new artists, in a world at fiber optic speeds, feel the urge to bring something fresh to stand out from the herd. And fans of new music, now take pride not just in their knowledge of history, but by their ability to sift through the rubble. To be the one to expand the minds of their social media followers, and gain some hipster brownie points on the side. (I’m guilty as anyone, see podcast). This does breed one negative symptom, a growing disposability of songs. But timeless music never tarnishes, even when its peers do, and even when fewer people are hearing it.

New artists are exciting not just because they are a new riddle to uncover for fans, and possibly a new sound to hear, but because the beginning stages of their careers are so formulate. Early adopters will serve as their core fan base, and their progression after they’ve been given a slice of spotlight will serve as a sign of their intention.

Recently, James Blake made some headlines for remixing his standout track, “Life Round Here” and featuring next to blow rapper Chance the Rapper on it. I was ecstatic, Not only was I not surprised when Chance described his fandom of Blake’s moody electro-epics before they even crossed paths, I felt that this song was already a hip hop track before a rapper graced it. That James Blake meant a great deal to the hip hop community despite being an average homeboy crafting his instrumentals like many others in the bedrooms of Britain and beyond. (See Jazz -Hop Trio’s BadBadNotGood‘s cover of Blake‘s “Limit to your Love“, and Big K.R.I.T‘s use of “Wilhelm Scream” for his “R.E.M“)

And that’s the beauty of new music to me. It’s surprise, its existence between realms, the fact that there are songs that are being recorded right now that even the most senior Pitchfork editor would look fucking stupid trying to categorize. Even amongst all the cookie-cutter, trend chasing, and predictable, there’s jewels, polished or not, that are to be found. And I’m building a mine.

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Cougar Microbes début for Daniel Benny /@delajoo

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TRACKS:

doublecougar No. 1 On Why New Music is More Important Than All


Jul 4 2013

A Cry For Help – ‘Yeezus’ Revisited

1001311 10151516110426687 110142615 n A Cry For Help   Yeezus Revisited

Whether you’re a Kanye fan or not, I think we’ve all been evaluating ‘Yeezus‘ in completely the wrong context. Rather than compare the new album to his past work, contemporary hip hop, or even the rest of pop music in general, we should really compare it to Lamar Odom.

As a reminder, here’s what the Kardashians did to Lamar:

2010–11 Lakers MPG 32.2 / FG% .530 / RPG 8.7 / APG 3.0 / PPG 14.4
2011–12 Dallas MPG 20.5 / FG% .352 / RPG 4.2 / APG 1.7 / PPG 6.6

If you watched him play during those years, you could literally see the life force leaking out of his listless body… and that was just Khloe.

Because of an accidental pregnancy, Kanye‘s stuck with Kim, the queen of all parasites.

As a reminder, here’s some of her greatest accomplishments:

Producer Testifies That Kim Kardashian’s Marriage Was Pretty Fake

Kim Kardashian sues Old Navy over lookalike in ads

Even her product endorsements are fraudulent:
Skechers Will Pay $40 Million Over Claims That Its Sneakers Toned Muscles

Of course Kanye West‘s next album was going to be a messy, angry, paranoid, abrasive cry for help… and despite all that, it’s still a very compelling piece of art with many genuinely exciting moments in it.

Compared to Lamar Odom, Kanye West and his music are doing just fine, and that’s a small miracle unto itself, so stop hating. The man is practically bullet proof. He’s like an Evel Knievel with hip hop beats who got swallowed by a whale and not only survived, but shot out of that whale’s vagina doing backflips on a motorcycle made of nothing but chrome and fire.

In other words, he IS a God. ‎#Yeezus

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Post by Roger Jao / @fobbyjao

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TRACKS:

badge itunes lrg A Cry For Help   Yeezus Revisited

doublecougar A Cry For Help   Yeezus Revisited


Jul 3 2013

“Let ‘Em Eat Croissants” A Yeezus review by Robin Petering

kanye west yeezus Let ‘Em Eat Croissants A Yeezus review by Robin Petering

As a preface, the following review comes from a serious Kanye West fan. If this review seems bias in any way, it’s because it is. ‘Yeezus‘, Kanye’s sixth solo album, is a fantastic album. The beats are complex, the samples are unexpected, the production is immaculate and the lyrical content is histrionic. At first listen, ‘Yeezus‘ feels like the angst-ridden teenage spawn of ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘ and ‘808s and Heartbreak‘ except there aren’t any superstar guest verses (No Jay, no Nicki, and no Rozay) or upbeat radio hits (No Ri-Ri hooks) and only minimal autotune. For long-texrm fans, ‘Yeezus‘ is another piece in West’s epic career trajectory and it delivers. Complete with cryptic guerilla marketing and inescapable internet hype, this album represents Kanye’s continued exploration in melodies, emotion, distortion and genre-crossover.

Yeezus‘ opens with “On sight”. Daft Punk or not, Ye’s MC’ing on this track is the most reminiscent of the early 2000’s. He’s fast paced with goofy lines like “No sports bra let’s keep em bouncin’.” He brings you in quick to “Black Skinhead” which is the album’s standout track. Despite his performance on SNL and the Governor’s Ball, I don’t think anyone was expecting this track to go as hard as it does. Kanye goes off about modern race relations with a goth-drill team and a dirty bass line to support him. The energy of this track is toxic and I’m curious to see if “Black Skin Heads” will take off this summer as a club hit. It may be the needed relief for a scene that is currently being drowned in repetitive trap beats. The album continues at pace and Ye offers meme worthy quips (“Hurry up with my damn croissants!”) and a sense of self-awareness about the role he plays in modern culture. Kanye states that he isn’t interested in ‘turning shit up’. He’d prefer to make his statement about racism, about his chick (and ex-chick), and about his croissants.

Hold My Liquor” is very reminiscent of MBDTF that may be the result of the presence of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon distorted intro. Unfortunately the rhyming found on this track is the type of Kanye rapping that fuels his disbelievers (“Slightly scratch your corolla/Okay I smashed your corolla”). Something new on this album, that we got a taste of with last summer’s “Mercy” (off G.O.O.D. Music collaboration album Cruel Summer), is a blatant reggae influence. I’m a sucker for reggae and hip hop crossover, so the use of reggae samples and artists across multiple tracks got me extra enthusiastic. Although there aren’t any huge names as features, Ye shows Chi-town love for up-and-comers Chief Keef and King L. He also calls up his lackluster progeny Kid Cudi to close out “Guilt Trip”. This track I could live without. Cudi maybe Kanye’s biggest flop yet. I’m not sure why he keeps trying to make that happen. Kanye’s not known for his loyalty (see Damon Dash).

Ye also provides a range of samples. “Blood on the Leaves” opens with a melancholic clip of Nina Simone then sharply drops in with a piece from electronic act TNGHT’s “R U Ready?” with Kanye reinvigorating the aformentioned Trap scene. ‘Yeezus‘ closes out with “Bound 2” which has that high-pitched soul sampling that Kanye is known for. The beat is nostalgic and the track appears to be his shout-out to his baby mama, Kim Kardashian. What ensues is a ‘love song’ that is probably as deep as what Kanye and Kim deserve (“Hey you remember how we first met?/Okay, I don’t remember how we first met.”). He’s a keeper!

All in all, for Kanye fans he delivers on the things we love about him the most: the narcissism, the vulnerability, and the manic episodes. Those same beloved traits also deliver fuel for devoted Kayne-haters and amateur music critics. MBDTF might be better overall (it might be perfect?) but that is not what is important. Kanye West is a trajectory. ‘Yeezus‘ is only one step along a path. In the short term, he gave us a major summer album with some serious bangers. Is Kanye West a god? In the world of hip-hop, probably. Does it matter if people disagree? No, but people will continue to talk, tweet, post their opinions through the summer and then some (which only further perpetuate ‘Yeezus’ godliness).

What I love the most about Kanye and his last four albums, including ‘Yeezus‘, is that he has changed the culture of mainstream hip-hop. No one before him has done what he’s done but many will emulate him. For me personally, Kanye’s ability to successfully release ‘non-traditional’ hip-hop albums pushes the genre in invigorating new directions. Being able to experience ‘Yeezus’ makes me so thankful to be a hip-hop fan living in what could be the golden era of the genre.

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Welcome on board Robin Petering / twitter: @monstertrvcks

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TRACKS:

badge itunes lrg Let ‘Em Eat Croissants A Yeezus review by Robin Petering

doublecougar Let ‘Em Eat Croissants A Yeezus review by Robin Petering


Jun 22 2013

‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ Is Still The Album Of The Summer

modern vampires of the city ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ Is Still The Album Of The Summer

We’re only at the midway point, but already it’s been a remarkable year for music. Good luck to all those list-obsessed journalists who have the unenviable task of writing their “Top 10 Albums of 2013” articles come late December. How one would rank, say, the excellent debut albums of Disclosure, Rhye or Woodkid against equally impressive new albums from the likes of James Blake, Toro Y Moi, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or Charli XCX is beyond me… and that’s just scratching the surface of all the great releases that have come out this year.

Of course, because every conversation about pop music these days tends to begin and end with either ‘Random Access Memories’ or ‘Yeezus’, surely they’d have to be included in those year-end lists too. Daft Punk and Kanye West should truly be admired for having the right combination of star power and marketing savvy to turn their respective album releases into bona fide pop culture events. That’s simply not an easy thing to do in the digital age. Unfortunately Daft Punk’s meticulously paced content strategy and Kanye’s strangely compelling “no strategy” approach (cover art be damned!) were a bit too effective at building buzz, as neither album quite lived up to their enormous hype and each suffered from unfair public backlash because of it. The hype from these two albums also did the music community a huge disservice by overshadowing some of the other quality releases this summer, including the absolutely superb ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ by Vampire Weekend.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that it would be a stretch to claim that ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ was slept on. The album was a critic’s darling and debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, selling a respectful 134K copies in its first week back in May. Furthermore, Vampire Weekend already has millions of loyal fans and can command headliner status at the music festival circuit. In other words, they hardly need my endorsement. Yet I feel compelled to evangelize them anyways because they aren’t yet in the pop culture zeitgeist and seem relatively unheralded in the blogosphere too.

What’s notable about ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ is what it is not. Unlike ‘R.A.M.’ or ‘Yeezus’, it is not a concept album. It isn’t a cynical statement about the current state of the music industry. It isn’t a tribute to an idealized bygone era, nor is it a vision of a bleak future either. That isn’t to say that this album lacks concepts, vision, or astute social commentary (it’s got all three) but that it doesn’t demand that you embrace any prefabricated narrative or larger context in order to appreciate it for what it is. In fact, I wasn’t even much of a fan of the band prior to hearing ‘Vampires of the Modern City’ and was still blown away by what I heard.

Now let’s talk about what the album actually is. It’s youthful and exuberant, but also wistful and world-weary, often at the exact same time. Lead singer Ezra Koenig fills his songs with dense, poetic lyrics that somehow pack an emotional punch even while the listener is still processing their meanings. His lyrics manage to carry weight and grab attention no matter if he’s screaming over a guitar laden power pop song like “Finger Back” or quietly ruminating over a folk song like “Hannah Hunt” – the latter of which starts off softly but eventually crescendos into a layered soundscape of crunchy kick drums, distorted vocals, wailing guitars and amplified piano keys.

Hannah Hunt” is just one of several songs that morph into completely new tempos and sonic textures and then back again before they conclude. For example, “Diane Young” starts off dense, full of electro bass lines, kinetic thundering drums, guitar riffs and electronic blips only to have the cacophony suddenly drop away, leaving moments of minimalist bliss consisting of only light snare drum hits and Koenig’s pitch-shifted yet still soothing chants of “baby baby baby”. Even in these moments of quiet the momentum of the songs on this album carry forward like the flat parts of a rollercoaster ride prior to its next big exhilarating plunge.

Earlier in their career, these sorts of abrupt pivots might have felt like a gimmick or overindulgence (as I thought was the case with their first single, 2008’s ‘A-Punk’), but here these movements feel fleshed out, organic and genuinely earned. Often times it’s Koenig’s singing which switches style most abruptly, from whispers to screams to scatting to spoken word pieces to fast flowing rap singing (think REM’s “It’s The End Of The World”). Koenig is clearly coming into his own as a singer and songwriter, and the rest of Vampire Weekend’s members are right there with him. It took a few years and a couple of albums, but finally they’re able to pull off the sort of high wire balancing acts and full throttle rollercoaster rides that they had only been hinting at previously. What they’ve crafted is a truly superb album, one that’s ideally listened to at the park or the beach, or while driving along the coast, windows down soaking up the rays of the early morning sun.

Modern Vampires of the City’ is truly the album of the summer, and likely my album of the year too.

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Welcome on board Roger Jao@fobbyjao

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TRACKS:

badge itunes lrg ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ Is Still The Album Of The Summer

doublecougar ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ Is Still The Album Of The Summer