Best of 2008: #5, Vampire Weekend

Rank: #5
Album: Vampire Weekend
Artist: Vampire Weekend
Label: XL Recordings

We've finally arrived at the top five of our countdown.  At #5 is Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut.  Now I'm sure nearly everyone reading this knows at least something about these guys, but I suppose I'll explain anyway. These guys reached a fever pitch here on the interweb over the past year, as most blogs, and even Spin magazine were hyping them up before they even released an album.  After meeting up at Columbia University, the four-member group started making their enjoyable brand of indie, baroque-inspired, afro-beat pop, or as they'd rather refer to it, Upper West Side Soweto.  No matter what you call it though, Vampire Weekend is one fun record.

From the opening notes of "Mansard Roof," you can sense the afro-pop influences, soon followed by more caribbean sounds, and lastly, Ezra Koening's made-for-indie voice.  The fun and different sound continues thereafter, with each of Vampire Weekend's quick pop songs.  Each track fills itself with witty observations and some entertaining cultural references at times, too.  The record's second track, "Oxford Comma," sees a discussion about rapper Lil' Jon, paraphrasing his hit song "Get Low"'s signature line, "to the window, to the wall".  The building energy here is probably what I most enjoy.  Each song starts off lively, then comes to fast and noisy peak, then drops back down.  Repeat as necessary for basically all 11 tracks.  It actually surprised me that the album saw no Grammy nods, but then again, we can only ask so much of the mostly out-of-touch music awards.  They've taken such large steps this year.  You can't expect them to catch everything.  For similar artists to Vampire Weekend, I'd suggest Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Islands and Ra Ra Riot.

Best Track: "Campus"

P.S.-I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.  We'll be taking a two-day break here at Animal Noises, and will be resuming the countdown on 12/26.  Be sure to stop back in.

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