Home > Category > XL Recordings

Album Review: Vampire Weekend – Contra (XL Recordings)

Okay, well we’re a little late with this one. Chances are you’ve already heard and formed an opinion about Vampire Weekend’s second album, Contra. Fortunately for us lollygaggers, that has given us the opportunity to try and put this album into context.

Some of the facts:

- Contra debuted as the number one album in the country, selling 124,000 copies in its first week. It was only the 12th independently-released album to do so. According to Billboard, their previous best sales week was when their debut self-titled album netted 28,000 sales in the opening week.

- Almost every U.S. show in support of this album has sold out. Locally, the band has progressed from the Rock and Roll Hotel (capacity 400 people) in early 2008, to two nights  at the 9:30 Club (1,200) later that year, to DAR Constitution Hall (3,720) this coming April. All  sell outs.

- In their second video in support of this album, for single “Giving Up the Gun,” we get a futuristic tennis match featuring Joe Jonas and Jake Gyllenhaal as players, Lil Jon as a French-speaking instructor and RZA as a Neo-from-The-Matrix-like referee (no joke). This is almost as random/absurd a group as another video starring Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It (On the Alcohol),” which also features Forest Whitaker, Ron Howard and Foxx himself rolling up to the club in a Rolls Royce to party with Samuel L. Jackson, T-Pain and many more. Seriously.

- On March 6, the group made its second appearance on “Saturday Night Live.”

All of the above accomplishments, including the ability to cobble together such a large swath of the cultural zeitgeist for one music video, demonstrate that Contra has launched Vampire Weekend from the flavor of the month to one of the biggest bands in alternative music. They have managed to do this by writing catchy tunes that can hook in somebody oblivious to the hype while incorporating technical elements that appeal to portions of the indie set.

Read the rest…

Album Review: Elvis Perkins in Dearland – S/T (XL Recordings)


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3: Elvis Perkins in Dearland – Doomsday

After many attempts to categorize the folk genre, I have found it impossible to pigeonhole such a broad spectrum of music. Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan may have paved the way for the male vocalist, but the breed of folk sound has evolved with popular taste.

In his first release since Ash Wednesday’s debut in 2007, Elvis Perkins released his sophomore album on March 10 2009, titled after his live band: Elvis Perkins in Dearland.  Although the record drops traces of indie folk rock influences, the singer-songwriter leaves plenty of room for the spoken word. His lyrics flow more in the form of poetry than verse-refrain, marinating in tender prose of allusion and symbolism:

Read the rest…