Where To Start With... - May 3, 2019

Where To Start With... Vampire Weekend
by James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

Where To Start With... Vampire Weekend

It’s been 13 years since Vampire Weekend came together. Formed in 2006 at Columbia University, where they bonded over a love of punk rock and African music, the band took their name from a short film written by frontman Ezra Koenig.

The film that was inspired by 80s classic The Lost Boys and revolved around an impending vampire apocalypse in Cape Cod. The film was short-lived – Koenig reportedly abandoned the project after just a couple of days – but the band endured and their self-recorded, self-titled debut album contains several references to Koenig's unmade film.

The album's impact was almost immediate, and while its lead single 'Mansard Roof' failed to bother the charts it did spark interest in the band from critics, with one of the album's songs, 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa', winding up in Rolling Stone's list of 2007's Top 100 songs. The band's second single 'A-Punk' landed them at no.25 in the US Alternative chart, earning generous radio play both at home and in the UK.

Their journey since has been one of the big success stories of the last decade, which has seen them deliver two further albums and earn almost universal acclaim from fans and critics alike. In addition to their output as Vampire Weekend, all of the band's members have released solo or side projects over the last few years, as well as collaborating with a range of artists from SBTRKT to Charli XCX.

After completing an extensive tour to promote their third album Modern Vampires of the City, multi-instrumentalist and producer Rostam Batmanglij announced his decision to leave the group – an amicable split, by all accounts – while the three remaining members confirmed that they were working on a fourth Vampire Weekend LP.

The album in question was announced in January this year, with the band first teasing the first letters of the album's title 'FOTB' and later revealing their fourth LP's full title, Father of the Bride, which arrives in stores today. Although Batmanglij does make contributions to the album, his role as the band's producer has been filled by frontman Koenig and Ariel Rechtshaid, who are co-producing the band's fourth full-length offering.

You can find the video for the album's lead single 'Harmony Hall' below', beneath that we've picked out five of Vampire Weekend's finest moments so far...



While it wasn't the band's first single, 'A-Punk' is arguably the track that really started the ball rolling and when the song arrived in 2008 it came with an eye-catching video directed by Garth Jennings (Son of Rambow, Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy'. Spiky, frenetic and relentlessly upbeat, the song remains one of their best even after a decade of fine tunes.


'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa'

One of the more overtly African-influenced songs on their debut LP, 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa' is based around the Congolese rhythmic style named in the song's title, juxtaposed here with a lyric examining the lingering colonialism in places such as India.


'White Sky'

The first song written for the band's sophomore LP Contra, 'White Sky' is one of the album's highlights, propelled by a shuffling rhythm and Koenig's lyrics about newcomers exploring New York. Released in 2010, the single also included several remixes by the likes of Basement Jaxx, but the original is still the best and features regularly at live shows.


'California English'

Another cut from the band's second album, 'California English' rattles along at a frenetic pace and is marked by Koenig's unusually autotuned vocals in one of the more original uses of the well-worn vocal effect that has become so ubiquitous in recent years. Featuring a lyric making fun of New Yorker's habit of glamourising the lives of their West Coast counterparts, the song is a typically cerebral offering that has become a staple of their live performances, like the one delivered at Glastonbury below...


'Diane Young'

Our final pick is this cut from the band's most recent album Modern Vampires of the City – and, for our money, one of its standout moments. Moving away slightly from the African influences that dominated their first two albums, 'Diane Young' enters new territory for the band and hints at the direction taken up new LP Father of the Bride.


Father of the Bride is available in hmv stores now – find your local store here.


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