SNL Sound-Off: Vampire Weekend

I really, really didn't want to like Vampire Weekend's Saturday Night Live stint on the eve of their forthcoming record, Modern Vampires of the City. I'm one of those haters whose ears bleed at the mere mention of an Oxford Comma, I think they sound like the soundtrack to a fancy Hamptons beach party I can't afford, and if they come up in conversation, I'm the one who makes an awkward "Hey I listened to Paul Simon's Graceland too GIMME A GUITAR AND SOME NANTUCKET REDS BRAH" joke that rarely goes over well. I didn't find them entirely deplorable, but the flailing and falling-all-over-yourself thing that happens when someone gets into a heated defense of Contra or the "inventive" nature of Vampire Weekend's plucky pop-rock numbers that you forget the second the song's over, I find them eye roll-inducing at best. They don't do it for me lyrically, they don't break any ground sonically, but for whatever reason, they're fun and I'll still dance my face off to their shit--and this is why their performances of "Diane Young" and "Unbelievers" have me in a bit of a bind.

See also: Play Guitar the Vampire Weekend Way

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Vampire Weekend And Contra Model Ann Kirsten Kennis Have Settled Their Lawsuit

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A year or so ago the woman wearing a polo shirt on the cover of Vampire Weekend's ContraAnn Kirsten Kennis, who claimed to have been made aware of her picture being on the album cover by her daughter—filed suit against the band and its label, XL, for appropriating the image of her without her consent. Last week, Kennis asked a Federal court in Los Angeles to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that she had reached a settlement with the band and the label.

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Watch Vampire Weekend And The Black Keys Do A "Sell-Out-Off" On The Colbert Report

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Well this is outstanding. Both the Black Keys and Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig showed up on Colbert last night to argue about who's gotten their music in more commercials. Koenig: "Are you challenging us to a sell-out-off?" Black Keys' Dan Auerbach: "Bring it on, Cape Cod!" Colbert: "Clearly you have both equally whored out your music!" Somehow the "musicians trying to be comedians" woodenness of it all only makes it funnier. This is Colbert's best bit in months; watch below (both bands show up around 4:30), and lament only that there was no way to get Pomplamoose involved.

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Zach Baron's Top 10 Albums of 2010

Guess who? Photo by Rebecca Smeyne.
Alright, let's do this, before I change my mind. With apologies to The-Dream, Sleigh Bells, Ted Leo, Kylesa, Swans, Zola Jesus, Marnie Stern, and all other vestiges of my punk rock past, and especially you Nicki Minaj, who missed both of my lists this year. How that happened I still don't understand, but onward, before it's too late. Half of these records are about mental breakdowns; the other half are about beating the whole world. I relate to both sentiments:

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Rob Harvilla's Top 10 Albums Of 2010

Naturally, this dude is involved
Distilling a full year of furtive, easily distracted, constantly overwhelmed listening down to a mere 10 albums is a ridiculous, agonizing, thoroughly loathsome undertaking, and yet here we all are, pulling nine fully formed sonic universes together and capping it off with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, because that's what we all did in 2010. Try Warpaint's morose "Undertow" when you want to feel sorry for yourself, Sleigh Bells' spectacularly violent "Straight A's" when you want to feel sorry for whoever you're about to punch in the face, and the morosely spectacular "Runaway" when you want to feel sorry for, well, Kanye. This was my year, with all the distractions finally, mercifully filtered out.

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Vampire Weekend's New iTunes EP Includes Their Cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm Goin' Down"

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Any last-minute digital-music shoppers out there are hereby advised that there's a new six-song Vampire Weekend EP up on iTunes today, mostly reprising their own work but including the whimsically bloopy cover of Springsteen's "I'm Goin' Down" that surfaced earlier this year. Given that the Boss is capable of being plenty whimsically bloopy himself, this isn't exactly blasphemous -- Ezra Koenig may not sing "I remember back when we started/My kisses used to turn you inside-out" with the same, uh, degree of credibility, but who among us can? Below, an earlier version; just keep these guys away from "I'm on Fire" and we'll be fine.

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Was 2010 The Best Year For Music Ever? Redeeming M.I.A.

Welcome to Sound of the City's year-in-review rock-critic roundtable, an amiable ongoing conversation between five prominent Voice critics: Rob Harvilla, Zach Baron, Sean Fennessey, Maura Johnston, and Rich Juzwiak. We'll be here all week!

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Dear Rob, Sean, Rich, and Maura,

I believe, as per our esteemed colleagues over at ILM, that the tortured anagram that Rob is looking for here is BLAND: Beach House (it's like you knew!), LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, the National, and Deerhunter. I like exactly one of those records, so fine with me, but before I start gassing on about how inspiring I found James Murphy to be in 2010, I believe there was a sprawling three-part opening question to be addressed. Let's take a moment to recall that at roughly this time last year, two smart critics, Sasha Frere-Jones and Simon Reynolds, were gently declaring hip-hop as we knew it dead. (Sasha: "If I had to pick a year for hip-hop's demise, though, I would choose 2009.")

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Was 2010 The Best Year For Music Ever? Five SOTC Critics Discuss.

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Great song, at least
Welcome to Sound of the City's year-in-review rock-critic roundtable, an amiable ongoing conversation between five prominent Voice critics: myself, Zach Baron, Sean Fennessey, Maura Johnston, and Rich Juzwiak. Let us acknowledge at the onset that we are ripping this off from Slate so hard, but though maybe let's think of it as more of an homage, the way the Black Eyed Peas' "The Time (Dirty Bit)" pays tribute to "(I've Had) The Time of My Life." Whether this is a wise analogy will be a central question undertaken by the panel.

For now, though, let's start by deciding, once and for all, if this really is The Greatest Year for Music Ever.

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The 10 Biggest Music Stories of 2010

Ah M.I.A., it just wasn't your year, was it? Photo by Rebecca Smeyne.
In 2010, Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire both had #1 records. LCD Soundsystem, Spoon, MGMT, the National, M.I.A, and Sufjan Stevens all had albums debut in the top ten. Kanye West joined Twitter. Drake started a riot in New York. Converse opened a recording studio in Brooklyn. M.I.A. went to war with the New York Times. Pavement reunited. Juggalos went mainstream. From our vantage point, this year in music was one of the most lawlessly entertaining--purely ridiculous, even--in a long, long while. So in the spirit of the deluge of year-end lists even now beginning to rain down upon us (don't forget to vote in Pazz & Jop!), we figured we'd look back on our ten favorite storylines of 2010. They weren't necessary the biggest, but they were the ones that SOTC had the most fun with, and the ones we cared most about.

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Tod Brody, The Vampire Weekend Contra Photographer, Is Now Being Subpoenaed Via Email

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Lest you forget, the Vampire Weekend lawsuit, wherein former model Ann Kirsten Kennis was quite surprised to find her face plastered on both the cover of Contra and various walls, is rolling onward, albeit slowly and in increasingly unorthodox fashion, given that no one can hunt down the guy who took the picture and sold it to VW in the first place. That'd be the elusive Tod Brody, who is hereby advised to check his email.

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