But really, Vampire Weekend took everything from highlife guitars to collegiate lust to Lil Jon worship to a crisp polo shirt and made it theirs. Soon, a blue CD-R full of spare indie-pop songs with provocatively fussy names like “Oxford Comma” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” was roiling MP3 blogs. He cites a line from the Contra track “Cousins” that sharply sums up class mobility in the internet age: “Dad was a risk-taker / His was a shoemaker / You, greatest hits 2006 little list-maker.”, From Chen’s perspective at XL Recordings, having guided the band from Myspace to relative stardom and far exceeding his own original 18-month plan, the identity issue was a nonissue. Vampire Weekend have settled their legal dispute with Ann Kirsten Kennis, the model who discovered her photo on the cover of the band's album Contra. It was 2008 when Gwyneth Paltrow, one of Hollywoodâs biggest stars (letâs not forget she has an Oscar), began a humble business venture. Each new tune sounded like a demo but felt suspiciously complete: the prim Afro-pop filigrees, the Ivy League erudition, the wise-ass hyper-melodiousness. Their detractors were still around and still out for blood. “I was living up around Columbia at the time,” he recalls, “and I was just riding the subway home and overheard this young guy talking to somebody about, like, ‘Should our band work with Nasty Little Man? “Just nothing cool about it.”. Vampire Weekend’s last album, 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City, was a further maximalist leap and another critical and commercial success: the no. Maybe there’s some pull to this.’”. Saab-o-philes of the Internet: Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig wants you to know that he's sorry. (The best line from the Spin cover story comes during a chat with Batmanglij: “He requests that a discussion about his love for Wes Anderson be kept off the record.”) A few critics, as Koenig himself later complained, dismissed Vampire Weekend as “the whitest band in the world.”. Even by contemporary blog-hype standards, it was a meteoric rise with a deliriously rich culture-war subtext: one of the last major indie bands kicking up a major extended rock-critic argument. Indie rockers Vampire Weekend have come under fire for burning two Saab 900 series cars in their latest music video â but singer Ezra Koenig wants car lovers to know the band meant no disrespect. In 2010, Kanye West released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: yet another in his string of reputed masterworks, but the one most effective in pushing the entire critical conversation more toward rap and R&B. And now, happily, part of their modern appeal lies in the way they’ve become a part of the past, too. There were allegations that the cars had been purchased under false pretenses and that the original owners had not been informed their cars would be destroyed. you can tell how the weather went from sunny to drizzling over the course of the day if you look closely. Thoughtful men gently strumming and/or politely shredding guitars are just another niche now, leaving Mac DeMarco and the War on Drugs and the National and the like to rule their amiable kingdoms while laboring under no great motivation to expand them. It all felt so simple, so immediate, so preordained. Success all but ruined them; vaporizing their mainstream appeal, which for them meant writing knottier tunes nobody would think to put on Gossip Girl or even HBO’s Girls, was the only way to save themselves. The “alternative” label was superfluous by then; they’d become one of the biggest rock bands in America, period. Brody is now representing himself in the case. 1, and soon the band was landing so many songs in so many TV ads that in 2011 they joined the Black Keys on The Colbert Report to sheepishly clown themselves for it. (I was the Voice’s music editor at the time; the love-hate dichotomy the band inspired was so intense back then that it felt only fair to let both sides be heard.) About Vampire Weekend At a time when indie pop was opening up to a wide world of influences, Vampire Weekend nudged things to the next level, bringing brainy lyrics and African flavours to the table as a sort of late-2000s alternative-scene answer to Paul Simon. That internet ecosystem, by the late 2000s, had its monumental successes and its cautionary tales, too. Vampire Weekend had “the charisma of the internet,” as Aaron puts it, but the throwback swagger of actual people predestined for actual success. And they got you. Vampire Weekend's just-released debut album is enjoyable enough. I think people argue, certainly, about what’s appropriate credit and all that kind of thing, but I tend to enjoy those kinds of culture clashes.”, In 2010, that culture clash still drove much of the conversation around Vampire Weekend’s Contra, which further rankled those critics who found the band exasperating from the start. “Now,” Shepherd says, “Twitter is just like, you can substitute that for, ‘I stan!,’ you know?”. Rock critics evoked Paul Simon’s Graceland instinctively, as is our wont, though not everyone took this as an enthusiastic recommendation. They’re a jam band with short songs.’” Also of note is the fact that there’s a song on this new album called “Unbearably White,” a guitar-noodling lope that finds Koenig still crooning, and winking, and pondering: Sooner or laterThe story gets toldTo tell it myself would be unbearably boldPresented with darknessWe turn to the lightCould’ve been smart, we’re just unbearably bright. Father of the Bride is much anticipated within the band’s sizable universe but betrays no great urge to set the world aflame, critically or commercially: It unfolds, over the course of an expertly languid hour, into a broad, mega-festival pop-rock mélange designed to please most people and offend way fewer than usual. Twelve years ago, Vampire Weekend arrived with crisp polos and Africa-indebted melodies, becoming heroes and villains all at once. Vampire Weekendâs New Album Is Their Least Cool and Maybe Their Best On Father of the Bride, the indie veterans abandon hipsterism in search of deeper self-reflection. “Unbearably White” will of course not generate as much hype as “Oxford Comma” did back in 2007, nor take as much heat. Their fourth album, Father of the Bride, is out Friday; its best song, lead single “Harmony Hall,” evokes the piano-bashing Rolling Stones at their jolliest, Fatboy Slim at his mellowest, a big-tent jam band at its warmest and least alienating. No breakout-band success story, no matter how instantaneous and organic it appears, is entirely instantaneous and organic; at this level, nobody does it overnight, and more importantly, nobody does it themselves. That sort of dramatic leveling-up doesn’t really happen overnight either, of course. “People I know who don’t follow new bands, they would hear one Vampire Weekend song and just be like, ‘What’s that? Vampire Weekend controversy: More details on the former model who's suing the rockers, plus responses from the photographer and band. “Oxford Comma” packs an enormous amount of sardonic charisma into three minutes and change, its pace unhurried, its winsome melodies unforced, Koenig’s opening line (“Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?”) somehow elegant and absurd and profane and profound all at once. “So we get there in the middle of the opening band’s set. âI hadnât spent enough time in â¦ We’re sort of talking to them.’”, Abebe is a rock critic and editor who wrote primarily for Pitchfork at the time; Nasty Little Man is a major PR firm. Sign up to receive exclusive updates from Vampire Weekend But a hot, new, young rock band that seemed to have a chance of mattering IRL was just enough of an anomaly to warrant taking the leap. CREDIT: Vampire Weekend Responds To Saab Controversy Car fanatics were none-too-thrilled with the lyric video for Vampire Weekendâs â Diane Young â and its Saab-arson visuals. Actually, I’d work with Kacey Musgraves. When Kennis sued Vampire Weekend, the band sued Brody, accusing him of misrepresenting his rights to the Contra photograph. “I think if I wrote this now, I don’t think I’d be interested in unpacking Ezra’s relationship with Rostam’s ethnicity or identity,” Hopper says. Vampire Weekend Contra album cover controversy August 19, 2010 No Comments » A former model has sued the band Vampire Weekend alleging unauthorized use of a Polaroid photo of her on the cover of their release âContra.â The model, Ann Kirsten Kennis, is seeking $2 million in damages for use of a Polaroid picture taken of her â¦ It sounded as flamboyantly preppy as the band—then singer-guitarist Koenig, multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, bassist Chris Baio, and drummer Chris Tomson—looked. “I was so curious about what sort of Columbia-kid band would be working with Nasty Little Man that I was sitting next to, I think, his girlfriend at the time,” Abebe continues, “and I had to kind of lean over and ask, ‘What band is this?’ She said, ‘Oh, they’re called Vampire Weekend. But in the six years since, it’s less that no younger band has overtaken the band’s lane than the lane itself has closed up entirely. Actually, it's all we've been listening to since it leaked last week. That's me, many years ago,'" Kennis told Vanity Fair in 2010. The gulf between desperately selling yourself and confidently helping Apple sell more hardware. Because only Vampire Weekend or Kanye West could possibly find themselves wrapped up in a controversy with people who fetishize cars. In the mid-2000s all it took to be the next white-hot indie band was a few insidiously catchy tunes, a clandestine industry connection or two, a content-generating backstory and/or fashion sense, an era-appropriate bashful sort of cockiness, and a patently ridiculous name. Vampire Weekend were interviewed for a Spin cover story (written by Ringer podcaster Andy Greenwald) before they even had a full album out—a first for the magazine. March 30, 2013 12:25 p.m. Arts & Entertainment “Even you could beat up these guys,” Vulture quipped in a piece headlined “What to Expect From the Upcoming Vampire Weekend Backlash.” Koenig and the boys would be on Saturday Night Live by the spring. “‘They’re a party band. “Spill kefir on your keffiyeh.”. “The idea that if some kids in a band are gonna be inspired by Congolese music or Kid Creole & the Coconuts or something like that—I don’t think that takes away opportunity for that other music,” Sanneh says. Vampire Weekend has given us an album which holds such intensity you feel it in your soul. This would raise quite a ruckus; this would make them famous. In an enervated year for music, when pop was rightfully eclipsed by Far More Important Matters, Vampire Weekend were as close as our little community got to a polarizing controversy. She’s from Texas, too.”, In 2019, a public critical argument that messy and convoluted would likely unfold in bursts of 280 characters or fewer. The Polaroid was almost 30 years old, and Kennis didn't remember posing for it. “But yeah, I think the question of ‘Would Vampire Weekend get a free pass if they weren’t Ivy Leaguers singing of the woes of the American leisure class?’ fuckin’ still holds.”, For Abebe, now a story editor at The New York Times Magazine, the best defense of Vampire Weekend often came in Vampire Weekend’s own songs. “‘Oh, I understand what they are now,’” Hopper remembers thinking many years after her review after inadvertently catching part of a Vampire Weekend set in Chicago at Lollapalooza. In retrospect, in broader sonic terms, Vampire Weekend inadvertently helped bring the This Band’s Gonna Be Huge era to a close. 1 Billboard debut, the no. Kris Chen, who signed Vampire Weekend to XL Recordings—home to Radiohead, M.I.A., and, soon, Adele—first heard them in early 2007 after looking the band up on Myspace: “I saw them listed for a Mercury Lounge show,” he says via email, “and thought it was such a peculiar name.” He reached out immediately and made the band a mix CD—“maybe to capture everything I heard in their music, or maybe to express songs I loved”—with a tracklist running from exquisite Brazilian troubadour Milton Nascimento to reggae songbird Horace Andy to Scottish post-punk scamps Orange Juice. So, thank you Vampire Weekend, for giving us âFather of the Bride,â an indie-rock Starry Night. But in 2007 they were instant, improbable heroes and supervillains all at once. I was like, ‘That actually looks really cool and interesting in a surprising way. Vampire Weekend is the eponymous debut studio album by American rock band Vampire Weekend, released on January 29, 2008 by XL Recordings.The album was produced by band member Rostam Batmanglij, with mixing assistance from Jeff Curtin and Shane Stoneback.Its cover photo is a Polaroid picture from one of their â¦ Vampire Weekend, meanwhile, are far less of a critical flash point these days, in part because five-alarm critical flash points are rarer overall, and certainly among men holding guitars. Kelefa Sanneh, then a New York Times pop critic and now a writer for The New Yorker, wrote that early admiring NYT live review and still recalls how infectious that admiration was from the start. “I think people slowly stopped giving a shit about indie hype bands,” says longtime New York City critic and current Jezebel editor in chief Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, who panned Vampire Weekend’s debut album in The Village Voice alongside a much more positive review written by Mike Powell. But Vampire Weekend, with their 2010 sophomore album, Contra, proved themselves an anomaly once again. But when it worked, the results were both exhilarating and bewildering. It was a grassroots operation on an industrial scale, each cog in the music-biz machine so efficient as to be inaudible. Content ©2020 The Ringer All Rights Reserved, winning the 2011 Album of the Year Grammy. And when their self-titled debut finally materialized in January 2008, it earned a rave Pitchfork review from Abebe himself. Though it’s still intoxicating when it feels like it does. I can’t remember who it was, but he kind of looks at me, like, ‘You dragged me to this club for this?’” On any given night, in any given club or art gallery or scruffy DIY hideout, you might find a band with a few pieces of the puzzle: a hooky chorus, a flashy look, a dopey name. Vampire Weekend are veterans now, uncontroversial, still beloved by their day-one fans and largely ignored by their day-one detractors. I don’t know. Vampire Weekend ideally served as a gateway drug, not a cheap American replacement. The official website of Vampire Weekend. âAt a time when indie pop was opening up to a wide world of influences, Vampire Weekend nudged things to the next level, bringing brainy lyrics and African flavours to the table as a sort of late-2000s alternative-scene answer to Paul Simon. You should go check them out.’”, The subway guy was Vampire Weekend front man Ezra Koenig, and Abebe noticed something else immediately: “He was making boat shoes and a polo shirt look really good, in a way that they hadn’t to me previously. There was. If people are supposed to stay in their own culture lanes, then I suppose I, who grew up in Texas as the son of Taiwanese immigrants, should be working with Shan’ge, Mandopop, or country artists. Kennis won an undisclosed settlement from the band and their label, XL Records, while her photographer remains locked in ongoing litigation. But either way, they played the Hot New Band role so perfectly they rendered it obsolete. The leap from a computer screen to Late Show With David Letterman or, better yet, Saturday Night Live. That larger debate can be boiled down to the song title “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” (which references a Congolese dance style) and the cheeky Myspace genre tag “Upper West Side Soweto” (which nods to both South Africa and Paul Simon’s vivid but not-uncontroversial reimagination of South Africa). By settling with Kennis, the case against Vampire Weekend has been dismissed, Photo District News reports. While Vampire Weekend possesses a plug-in-and-play mentality, Contra flirts with digital effects, sampling, and drum machines. With a more intellectual and experimental approach, none of those bands could match, say, the Strokes for pure instant-gratification appeal, and all of them were proud to say so. Nitsuh Abebe first heard the era’s biggest and most ridiculous band name of them all on the train, sometime in early 2007, somewhere on the Upper West Side. But the band either couldn’t keep it together or didn’t want to, returning in 2010 with the claustrophobic, fame-addled, and defiantly pop-averse Congratulations. "There has been a total breakdown in the attorney-client relationship," attorneys Lavely & Singer wrote. Then you just waited for a few idle words to perk up the right ears and light up the right blogs. The saga is not over, however. “A-Punk” indeed sounds like a straight-A student’s idea of punk; “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” sounds like a louche campus loverboy’s come-on that doubles as a humblebrag about how many passport stamps he’s got. Vampire Weekend can now offer a pleasant, nostalgic respite from the rap and increasingly avant-garde pop that tends to dominate both the charts and The Conversation. “Because if you haven’t realized the intertwined, recombinant nature of music by now, you shouldn’t even listen to anything new. And with the occasional polarizing exception of peak-Tumblr-era Lana Del Rey or the Twitter-archvillain heyday of Father John Misty, they just don’t make single-artist controversies that big anymore. For every Pitchfork favorite that later hit some semblance of the big time—whether that’s Arcade Fire winning the 2011 Album of the Year Grammy or LCD Soundsystem throwing itself a luxe (and premature) goodbye party at Madison Square Garden that same year—there was a band like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or Black Kids, lavishly praised at first contact but ferociously dismissed with the very next breath, such that one’s dopey band name might become shorthand for “instant success followed by just-as-instant failure.” The music-internet economy needed a new challenger every few months, but the turnover rate was vicious, and so many of those once-hyped bands never quite got around to feeling … real. Which maybe it was. It was an inexact process. I think people saw that with Paul Simon. “There was something very accessible and charming and obvious only in retrospect about it.”, Returning now to 2008’s Vampire Weekend, that affable brashness and casually nuclear charm is everywhere. The metaphors are mind-blowing, and the topics tackled are controversial and beautiful. In December 2010, Vampire Weekend filed their own lawsuit against Brody, which argued that he would be liable for any damages Kennis would receive, due to misrepresentation. But the larger and more troubling point is that in 2019, only rappers or avant-garde pop stars can much inspire anyone to do or say much of anything. “Things really broke right for them,” Aaron says. (It lost to Kanye West’s Yeezus.) On August 15, 2011, it was announced that Kennis had dropped her lawsuit against XL Recordings and Vampire Weekend after they paid Kennis an â¦ So, before we pick â¦ The Oxford comma is so polarizing, the band Vampire Weekend used it as a song title and thereâs an entire Twitter account dedicated to celebritiesâ opinions on the punctuation. Vampire Weekend now represents the end of an era. In 2019, Vampire Weekend, now a trio—Batmanglij left the band after Modern Vampires of the City—are perhaps the best band still standing from the mega-indie era, with a bigger and broader sound worthy of a longtime festival headliner. You got it. That’s catchy as shit! They’d crossed over to the real world so successfully that it didn’t matter anymore what the internet thought. “I just feel like Vampire Weekend was, ‘OK, they’re an internet band,’” Aaron says, recalling Spin’s thought process. The controversy escalated to the point that the Roman Catholic Church apparently dropped Interscope Records a line to express its displeasure. vampire-weekend 21 points 22 points 23 points 7 years ago we actually shot that all in one day in an alley in chinatown. The winks pile up: the flirtatious ones and the strategic-cultural-reference ones. The music industry at that time was post–Napster crash but pre-streaming boom, with Pitchfork ascendant, MP3 blogs like Stereogum and Fluxblog thriving—yes, a decade ago, young tastemakers devoured new tunes one download at a time—and the critical conversation, in those halcyon days before Twitter saturation, transpiring mostly on message boards and, soon, Tumblr. Rock bands, even of the ironic or postmodern or deconstructed variety, are just another niche now, still a potent lifestyle for some but an increasingly inconsequential subgenre for most. But the band’s stature, and its audience, appeared to double overnight. It was like the end of that.”, The central question is whether the band’s globe-trotting, record-collecting sound helped usher in this omnivorous new era or tried to stifle it. âNothing was more overhyped than the supposed controversy about Vampire Weekend,â remembers frontman Ezra Koenig. And nobody was complaining much about it. Because only Vampire Weekend or Kanye West could possibly find themselves wrapped up in a controversy with people who fetishize cars. “I always thought it was an unfair attack,” he writes. Contra was already on sale when Kennis's teenage daughter spotted her mum's face on the cover. The video concept came from Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij 's friend Borna Sammak, and was filmed while the band was performing at SXSW. The dawn of the streaming era further awarded curiosity and genre diversification, and further disincentivized the industry to cough up a new putative savior of rock every six months. "When he finally did respond, his responses became increasingly hostile and exhibited substantial animus toward the firm.". Vampire Weekend have settled their legal dispute with Ann Kirsten Kennis, the model who discovered her photo on the cover of the band's album Contra. “That spring, after a conversation where I said I could visualize their next 18 months, they rightly challenged me on that assertion,” says Chen, now an executive at Nonesuch Records. Contra is, for what it’s worth, the band’s best record, expansive and detailed and bracingly melancholy, though Hopper disagreed in a memorably hostile Chicago Reader review that described it as a “fuckless episode of Gossip Girl written by Jimmy Buffett.” Hopper’s piece also tackled the whiteness issue head-on, along with Koenig’s many interviews addressing it, setting the comment section ablaze and inspiring a relatively cordial Tumblr back-and-forth with Abebe about how critics should address matters of race and class. Ann Kirsten Kennis, who denied giving the band permission to use her image on album sleeve, wins undisclosed settlement, Contra-versy ... 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