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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    CD Reviews

    Vampire Weekend

    Vampire Weekend – XL Recordings

    It must be hard to be an intelligent band. All the criticism directed toward innovation, creativity and lyrical output is brutal in determining the future success of the group. Fortunately for Vampire Weekend, that criticism is in its favor. The band members all attended Columbia University (a sign of their mental intelligence) and their polo-clad, collegiate experience is apparent on the group’s self-titled first release.

    “”Mansard Roof”” opens Vampire Weekend with musings about rooftops and Argentines at war, and immediately solidifies the band’s presence in the Afro-pop genre. The backing instruments have an air of simplicity as guitarist Ezra Koenig plays along with his own vocals and drummer Christopher Tomson hits a snare out of sync with the beat of the song.

    String-heavy “”M79″” (about a bus in New York, not the grenade launcher) brings to mind the upper-class dancing to an upbeat waltz; “”No excuse to be so callous/ Dress yourself in bleeding madras”” sings Ezra Koenig amidst the epic orchestral composition. Even the keyboard can’t cheapen how classy this song is.

    “”I Stand Corrected”” starts with low, reverberating keyboard notes before Koenig chimes in: “”You’ve been checking all my facts/ and I admit I have been lax/ in the blue screening what I say/ it wasn’t funny anyway.”” The song continues to build, with the addition of a simple tribal drum, followed by a sharp snare and strings. While “”M79″” might seem like pretty pop fodder, “”I Stand Corrected”” reminds the listener that this is a band that claims it finds influence in Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon.

    Vampire Weekend isn’t perfect, which might work in redeeming the band in the overly critical press. While the lyrics of “”Campus”” are easily relatable for any college student (run-ins with the ex around campus), it almost sounds like the track is ready to break out into full-ska-mode: horns and all. “”One (Blake’s Got a New Face)”” takes Koenig’s usually articulated vocals and trashes them as he, and other band members, screech through the chorus.

    Foibles aside, Vampire Weekend is a lyrically intelligent, instrumentally simple band that will hopefully prove to be more than the “”It”” band of the moment.

    – Jamie Ross


    The Bedlam in Goliath

    The Mars Volta – Universal

    Progressive rockers The Mars Volta aren’t strangers to the idea of a concept album. With previous, widely successful albums Deloused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute playing out the lives and deaths of close friends, The Mars Volta took the idea of a concept album and not only brought it to life, but made it come crashing through speakers and into the faces and ears of listeners. But this concept album is different. The Bedlam in Goliath spawned solely from a spiritual object that infiltrated and assaulted the minds of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala and their skilled band mates.

    After Rodriguez-Lopez brought Bixler-Zavala a Soothsayer Ouija-like board from Jerusalem, the Soothsayer began to taunt the musicians and make ludicrous demands of them. The Mars Volta buried the haunted relic and The Bedlam in Goliath was born.

    Not unlike the place where the Soothsayer originated, “”Alberinkula”” sets the tone for the entire album with Bixler-Zavala’s frantic, ear-piercing vocals, wailing guitars, Middle Eastern themes and frightening sense of urgency.

    The album has high energy through “”Metatron”” which displays TMV’s insanely complicated guitar work and their coveted talent as prog rockers: long multi-layered songs. Songs like “”Metatron”” convey the notion that TMV is like an enjoyable panic attack – the anxiety that fills your chest makes it hard to catch a breath, but there is a lightheaded feeling of sickening euphoria that follows.

    “”Ilyena”” begins distorted and digitized but segues into smooth vocals with funky and squawking guitar work that is propelled by a staccato of fast paced drumbeats.

    “”Wax Simulacra”” and “”Goliath”” scream by impressively with catchy choruses and more smoking guitar leads that last nearly the duration of both songs.

    Other notable tracks include “”Soothsayer,”” “”Conjugal Burns”” and “”Things Behind the Sun,”” which wrap up the story of the cursed Ouija board and highlight Bixler-Zavala’s vocals in a different, slower pace.

    There aren’t enough words to describe the intricacy of The Bedlam and Goliath or the depths that the multi-tiered songs defy instrumentally. There often aren’t words appropriate enough to describe a spiritual experience.

    – Kelli Hart

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