New Music Tuesday: Vampire Weekend • Wild Nothing • Wampire • Snowden

Vampire Weekend - Vampires of the City
Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City

4.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Hannah Hunt”
“Worship You”

Album Highlights: Vampire Weekend’s third album Modern Vampires of the City further cements their status as one of the preeminent indie rock bands in modern music. The band has grown up and matured with Modern Vampires, creating a vibrant and rejuvenating album that will likely be high atop many “Best of the Year” lists in 2013. Vampire Weekend has already established themselves as a veritable force in contemporary music with their highly acclaimed first and second albums Vampire Weekend (2008) and Contra (2010). Their distinctive baroque sound has aged and ripened with Modern Vampire in the City, blossoming into one of the freshest album of the year thus far. This album is littered with hits like “Ya Hey”, “Diane Young” and “Step”, which have already been making the rounds on local radio stations. It’s only a matter of time before these songs appear in another Honda commercial.

It’s the distinctive characteristics of the band’s sound that carry this record. Ezra Koenig’s playful and expressive vocals shine through this lyrically rich album. Every song on this record has captivating vocals that take the listener on a poetic journey, one of my favorites being “Step.” The shoutouts to San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda don’t hurt either. Perhaps the greatest emotional outpouring from Koenig comes at the end of “Hannah Hunt” when the song crescendos to a peak; this moment is an absolute highlight.

Album Lowlight: With little help from Steve Buscemi, Vampire Weekend has created one of the best albums of 2013. It is perhaps this cringe-worthy marketing campaign that is the worst part about the album, if it could even be considered that. Perhaps this was done to curb expectations on this record that was nearly 2 years in the making? Whatever the reason, it worked, because Modern Vampire of the City is an incredible record that will be listened to and cherished by music lovers for ages to come.

Takeaway: Without too much commotion, this LP has propelled Vampire Weekend from a quirky indie band to one of the most influential groups in contemporary music. Their distinct sound, songwriting ability, and musical diversity make this album one of the most compelling albums of the year. They’ll serenade you to sleep one moment, only to rock you awake the next. Modern Vampires of the City will transform the casual fan to a Vampire Weekend advocate. They have quickly climbed the power rankings for anticipated bands performing at Outside Lands Music Festival. I’ll be there.

~Kevin Raos

Wild NothingEmpty Estate [EP]

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Ocean Repeating (Big-Eyed Girl)”
“The Body In Rainfall”

Album Highlights: Wild Nothing released one of the best records of 2012 with Nocturne, but Jack Tatum outfit has already returned with a seven-track EP that presents an interesting duality that is not foreign to these shimmering, dream-pop curators. The sounds and songs on Empty Estate vacillate between “traditional” Wild Nothing cuts and luscious, cinematic dreamscapes. Two of the EP’s highlights are the first two tracks, “The Body in Rainfall” and “Ocean Repeating (Big-Eyed Girl)”. These songs fit into this group’s synth-pop wheelhouse – they would have fit fine in either of Wild Nothing’s two long players. “Ride” sticks out as the best instrumental soundscape, channeling Philip Glass’ wild, sonic adventures.

Album Lowlight: It’s an interesting choice to put out another EP – maybe these were left over tracks from last year that were prettied up for this EP? It seems like they were half way to another excellent full length record. And while the dreamscapes here are interesting, they aren’t always perfect. The final track “Hachiko” wanders off so far that it suffers then dies a slow death – a stark way to end a mostly hazy-yet-upbeat record.

Takeaway: Wild Nothing continues to be a lead innovator of dream-pop indie music with inspiration. With involved dreamscapes like “On Guyot” and “Ride”, Tatum proves he has the chops for scoring cinema – at a minimum for films that deal in experimental, sonically-progressive audio. Overall, this new material gives the visceral feeling of wandering around as part of a journey, not a means to a destination. One device that enhances this feeling is seamless segueing between songs, which happens twice on this shortened record. This EP is another must-listen for fans of Wild Nothing.

~Mike Frash


3-BamsTop Tracks:
“The Hearse”
“Magic Light”

Album Highlights: Ever wondered what Arcade Fire might sound like if they got all new-wave? The answer would be something pretty damned close to the Portland duo which goes by the name Wampire, and they would make rocking music for dark, dark house parties. “Giants” features the semi-characteristic combination of heavy organ flourishes and artificial sounding drum machines, before dropping into a groovy section that even Boris Karloff would get down to. Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps are the musical buds behind this project, and have been playing together for a length of time, freaking out the Portland party scene, before molding their sound into the more slick production thanks to help from Jake Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Album Lowlight: Curiosity can border on the novelty and kitschy at certain times, but it never really crosses the line, thankfully. Lead single “The Hearse” might have lead many to think this album would be a bit more dance oriented, but the mix of tempos is rather refreshing, in fact.

Takeaway: It’s a dead man’s party, and Wampire are playing said party. These guys have crafted a ghoulishly catchy album full of hook-laden goth dance romps and tenderly macabre ballads. Long anticipation has lead to a fulfilling release that will likely transcribe well to the live stage, even though Wampire seems to be a name blatantly missing from the lower throngs of festival lineups across the country. Children of the 70s and 80s can rejoice in the possibility of their new favorite release being Curiosity.

~Kevin Quandt

SnowdenNo One Is in Control

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Don’t Really Know Me”
“So Red”

Album Highlights: Snowden returns with No One Is in Control after a six-year hiatus since their first album, Anti-Anti, a break brought on by label fighting. While singer Jordan Jeffares was unable to create a new album, he was able to continue writing and he churned out some great songs that bring to mind Interpol with a bit more pop and indie rock energy to them. One of the tracks that defines this is “Hiss”, which brings out Jeffares’ down-a-hallway vocals with static filled garage guitars that build to create a insanely catchy chorus and breakdown that leave you moving your head and singing along. “Don’t Really Know Me” is another infectious track that takes the low-fi angle to bring the listener in and sing along.

Album Lowlight: Overall, the album didn’t have many lowlights. “No Words, No More” was a personal non–favorite as I found it a bit boring, but the albums still delivers as far as a sophomore effort goes. If anything, the albums seems to have not matured much from Anti-Anti, possibly due to the long hiatus in between and the log jam of songs it created, but for fans of Snowden I don’t feel they’ll be disappointed as No One Is In Control is Snowden through and through.

Takeaway: Crisp snare pops, low-fi guitars and distant vocals are Snowden’s hallmark and they don’t miss on their sophomore album. Some of the tracks stand out more than others in both song writing and mass appeal, but the album as a whole hits the mark for true fans and those looking to check in on what Jeffares (and Snowden) have been up to these last six years. I would also anticipate this album spawning a host
of remixes from various artists, as San Francisco’s own Lane 8 has already remixed
the lead single of the album “The Beat Comes”, so expect Snowden to follow in the
St. Lucia et..all vein and become a source of remix inspiration in the near future for a
variety of producers.

~Sean Little


  1. […] Mortar Thursday as part of the west coast leg of their tour in support of their second full length No One In Control. The new record was six years in the making, so Jordan Jeffares and crew don’t tour very […]

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