MELISSA BLOCK, host:
The New York band, Vampire Weekend, is enjoying the kind of buzz that most young musicians can only dream of. They've just released a self-titled debut CD, but they're already drawn nearly a million and a half visitors to their MySpace page. They were featured in the Style section of the New York Times, and they've performed on "Late Night with David Letterman."
Reviewer Meredith Ochs is surprised to find that the new Vampire Weekend CD is worth all the hype.
(Soundbite of song "A-Punk")
MEREDITH OCHS: Vampire Weekend got together in 2006 as students at Columbia University. Crafting songs with meticulous arrangements and infusing them with high energy performances, they sound indefatigable, clever, and exceedingly musically skilled. Branding themselves with the tag Upper West Side Soweto, the band does a reverse Paul Simon, bringing African influences into their world. They've devoured Afro-pop, English ska, and punk as though those genres were great literary works, and this CD is their final exam.
(Soundbite of song "A-Punk")
Mr. EZRA KOENIG (Vocalist, Vampire Weekend): (Singing) Look outside at the raincoats coming, say oh. Look outside at the raincoats coming say, oh. His Honor drove southward seeking exotica down to the Pueblo huts of New Mexico. Cut his teeth on turquoise harmonicas oh, oh, oh.
OCHS: Most rock bands don't cultivate an upper class Ivy League image, but Vampire Weekend does, and it informs what they do with artists. While their music slips in and out of rhythms from across the world, the band members themselves literally wear their own culture on their collective sleeve, dressing in unapologetically and un-ironically preppy garb. Their lyrics are a virtual tour of the life and education of the young and privileged, gleefully bounding from Cape Cod to campus, from sophistic grammatical references to the finer points of Beaux Arts architecture.
(Soundbite of song "Mansard Roof")
Mr. KOENIG: (Singing) I see mansard roof through the trees. I see a salty message written in the eaves. The ground beneath my feet, the hot garbage and concrete, and now the tops of buildings, I can see them, too.
OCHS: Sure, Vampire Weekend is effete, but they're ultimately charming. While they clearly revel in their fortunate world, their name-dropping never gets to obnoxious, and it never obscures the emotional content of their songs. They make sense of how the thrill you get from seeing your crush walk to class is just about the same as discovering an obscure band that changes everything you thought about music.
(Soundbite of song "Campus")
Mr. KOENIG: (Singing) Walk to class in front of you. Spilled kefir on your keffiyeh. You look inside and turn to the door, drag your feet along the floor. Then I see you you're walking across the campus, cruel professor studying romances. How am I supposed to pretend I never want to see you again? How am I supposed to pretend I never want to see you again?
OCHS: So if you long for the days when you were an annoyingly well-read, hyper-energetic college who geeked out over music and pop culture trivia - or if you were never any of things but always wondered what it would feel like to be them, this CD will feel as comfortable to you as a well-worn Ralph Lauren cardigan.
(Soundbite of song "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa")
BLOCK: That's Meredith Ochs reviewing the self-titled CD from the group Vampire Weekend.
(Soundbite of song, "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa")
Mr. KOENING: (Singing) As a young girl, Louis Vuitton, with your mother on a sandy lawn. As a sophomore with reggaeton, and the linens you're sitting on.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
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