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Vampire Weekend

2010-01-20 10:14
Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend appear to all be clever college boys from Columbia U, which is apparently an insult in American music reviewing circles, where there’s clearly still some sort of need for the spurious authority associated with being street. Luckily for us, we’re South Africans who are not only used to having our culture and economy raped by the ever-needy West, we’ve actually managed to be self-raping.

So Vampire Weekend’s Afro-pop will remind you of bands like Urban Creep, Bright Blue, The Streaks, and more recently – and perhaps more significantly – Desmond and the Tutus. Funnily enough, Americans will be reminded of Paul Simon, a man with prior convictions of taking South African musical genres and turning them into gold. The rich irony, of course, is that we should all be thinking of the African musicians that inspired those bands, from Congolese soukous exponents to our own Madala Kunene.
So there’s no moral high ground here, and you might as well just enjoy Vampire Weekend for what they are, a clever band having some fun with good tunes and intelligent lyrics, albeit lyrics that exhibit the new movement in music towards local reference before universalism. So you’d really need to care about Cape Cod to get the full benefit here.

And let’s not overstate the African influence on Vampire Weekend. It’s really just alt.pop with a bit of Afro-pop thrown in, and it’s an album that’ll bring a particular pleasure to those of you who’ve ever wondered what SA bands could be capable of if they weren’t hamstrung by budget, expectations, and the perverse ghettoisation that their audiences put them through.

Now I know what it must feel like to be a hip-hop head from New York listening to Cape Town’s Afrikaans rapper Jitsvinger. You can hear all the familiar tropes of hip hop, you can pick out a couple of samples that remind you of local acts, but overall it’s like being a Martian at a Venusian ball. The tentacles are subtly waving in an unfamiliar sequence.

What to read next: Kalahari

Lilly-Anne 2008/03/31 6:08 PM
Uncanny It really DOES sound South African influenced. And it's very cool, too.
Dr Tchock 2008/03/31 9:27 PM
done your Homework? The lead singer of Vampire Weekend is actually South African :P
Daniel 2008/04/03 11:26 PM
What a tosser! Your columns are the worst cr*p in print, don't inflict your ignorance on us through cd reviews. You just dont know what you are talking about! Ignorant. If only someone could give 'budget' to the media to hire talented writers with a semblance of intelligence. You have listened to the SA sound (ie poor sonics, lack of production, bad songs) for so long that you actually enjoy it now. What a chop!
Edgar 2008/04/03 11:31 PM
Disagree with Danny boy! Yes, the review is really poor. Yes, the media in SA are for the most part talentless,including Roper. Where I disagree is that the student or part time job of reviewing cds, is exactly his level of competence!
Timothy 2008/04/03 11:37 PM
Borrowed all his 'facts' from wikipedia Go read about Vampire W on Wikipedia. Very similar to chris ropers article - plaigarism? Didn't mention the SA connection on wiki therefore roper couldnt pick up on it! Go sell used cars....
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