Tag Archives: Vampire Weekend

Top 10 Songs of 2013: #10 – “Unbelievers” by Vampire Weekend

9 Dec

Vampire Weekend

And the list begins. Vampire Weekend released its third studio album in May of this year, and it immediately received laudation from many mainstream/underground music critics. Heralded as an ode to bildungsroman, Vampire Weekend certainly put out a comprehensive and potent release that played on themes of growth, religion, and relationships. The album, Modern Vampires of the City, has found its way into the top five of Stereogum and Spin’s end-of-the-year top albums chart and has reached number one on Rolling Stone’s top 2013 albums chart. It was a good year for Columbia-educated English major Ezra Koenig and his band of undead brothers.

While many who are familiar with the album might be surprised that I did not choose the effervescent Yahweh-inspired pop piece, “Ya Hey,” which pulsates with a taciturn MGMT rhythm, I hold firm that it is not the best song on the album, and thus not on this list. “Unbelievers,” the new album’s third single, is a bubbly track that effortlessly combines early rockabilly with cogent lyrics, and because of its musical diversity and thought-provoking lyric it earned a spot on the countdown.

The song was written by Koenig and produced by record producer Ariel Rechtshaid and vampire multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij. The persistent rhythm that carries the song sounds like a modernized version of Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue.” The repetitive 2-chord verse follows a consistent 4-bar chorus that is carried by pounding percussion and classic Vampire Weekend harmonies. The strongest melody of this song falls at the ending diapason that combines the instrumentals into a crashing, harmonious 20 seconds that crushes listeners with a wave of indie-pop sound. It is a song that feigns simplicity and does it well. It also features some pretty top notch lyrics:

We know the fire awaits unbelievers
All of the sinners, the same
Girl you and I will die unbelievers 
bound to the tracks of the train 

Koenig goes on to question whether holy water contains “a little drop for me.” It’s a concise portrait of an individual who is bound to die an unbeliever (without religion). This explicit religious bent may serve as broad symbolism of an album-wide theme of relationship. Nice, philosophical words from Koenig.

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New to the Music Court’s annual Top 10 Songs countdowns? Check out the full-song in-review of The Top 10 Songs of 2010 and The Top 10 Songs of 2011. Tune in Wednesday for song #9.

The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance: Indie Pop

28 Oct

I know that I’ve not always held indie music in the highest regard simply because it’s indie.  Indie means deviation from the norm, something different then what I’m used to and that doesn’t always entice me.  However, indie is how pop should really sound.  It’s not even worth apologizing to Lady Gaga or Katy Perry because let’s face it, your music is called pop because there is no “bad music category.”  As catchy as pop music sounds and as much as I may kid about the artists that produce such noise, there are certainly bands that get the short end of the stick when it comes to radio play and popularity.

In the movie Garden State, Natalie Portman turns to Zack Braff and says a certain song will change a certain someone’s life and while I can’t claim such transcendence from The Shin‘s “New Slang,” I can claim a restored faith in pop music.  The Shins finely craft melodies and catchy hooks without losing the thing that separates them from mainstream artsits.  Katy Perry talks about California Girls in bikinis and Lady Gaga says we are all born special, yet the Shins leave their lyrics open to interpretation as  they talk in metaphors and speak without judgment or  expectation.  My first Shins album, Chutes Too Narrow, was given to me in high school and I listen to it to this day because no two songs sound the same or deliver the same message.

I also love the band Vampire Weekend.  Just like The Shins, they have an unconventional musical and lyrical style.  Musically, lead singer Ezra Koenig’s voice’s tone is not only  unconventional, but also just plain different and the band incorporates such diverse elements as African rhythms into pop songs.  And yet, the band always makes sure to add pop hooks to such an eclectic mix that their music always comes out surprisingly catchy and lyrically engaging to merit another listen and another listen after that.

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