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Things We Loved in 2008, Part 1

December 8, 2008

Since it’s nearing the end of the year and everyone else is doing it, I figured I’d start a little 2008 retrospective. This is partially brought on by the fact that I haven’t posted in awhile (SNL blogging aside) and partially because laying in bed sick quoting Willy Wonka to myself (it’s on AMC) is making me a little bananas.

I unabashedly love Vampire Weekend. I can somewhat understand the argument — You hate them. They’re a bunch of preppy trust fund kids who sing about things like Benetton and Cape Cod and backpacking. And you just know that they spent half of their college lives in someone’s apartment with a bunch of pretentious chicks in cocktail dresses who sit on their knees on the white shag carpet drinking wine and discussing Nietzche and practicing their French. Yes, they have names like Ezra Koenig and Rostam Batmanglij. Yes, they have a weirdly irritating way of describing their sound (“Upper West Side Soweto,” gag me). Yes, they shop at places like Ralph Lauren and Lacoste.

But damnit, I don’t care. The same things said about them were said about The Strokes in 2001, and they never really got past the label. In 2001, The Philadelphia Inquirer said this about the Strokes: “[they] are more than a bunch of destined-for-stardom trust-fund kids: They’re a taut, cohesive unit that excels in choppy, driving guitar rock, shorn of excess and insidiously tuneful.”

I saw them last night at Terminal 5, and they might not be the most entertaining live band, but despite the miserable sound at T5, they still managed to come across as tight and fun. The new music sounds dancier, and nothing makes me happier than seeing hundreds of people bounce around to a string section. Ezra had his moments of being out of tune, but overall he sounded as exuberant and full as he does in the recordings. And just as breezy, carefree and alright fine, precious as they do in their takeaway show. (Side note, if you have yet to watch any of the Blogotheque’s takeaway shows, it’s almost imperative that you do. I strongly recommend Beirut’s.)

Hate them if you want, but if you ask me, Vampire Weekend put out one of the most refreshing albums this year. It’s one of the few that I’ve heard in awhile where I didn’t want to skip a single one of the songs. And they’re pretty much destined to score a Wes Anderson film. Or at least contribute one song. It’s catchy, it’s poppy, it’s light, it’s detailed, and it’s one of my faves for 2008.

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