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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How Vampire Weekend Channeled Africa Through New York

What is a young artist to make of a post-Giuliani, post-9/11 New York City? Some credit the former mayor’s strategic employment of the “broken window” philosophy in fighting urban crime and blight—along with a police force that, putting it kindly, ignored many of the subtleties of community relations—with helping the city to clean up its act. Many old haunts that once housed angst-ridden musicians are being developed into condominiums and shopping centers (it was, for example, recently announced that the former site of CBGB is being converted into a store for upscale men’s fashion designer John Varvatos). At the same time, the horrific events of 9/11 have created both a newfound sense of community among many New Yorkers and an intense preoccupation with all things safety-related. The grime, danger and sin historically associated with New York have seemingly been wiped off the cultural landscape of the city, creating a new atmosphere marked by a cleanliness that threatens to erase many aspects of the region’s checkered history.
03.14.2008 | | Posted at 12:00 AM
By Evan Rytlewski
SXSW is pretty easy when you have a media badge. By and large, you�ll be let into any show you want. But there are a few hyped shows where press credentials aren�t enough, and perhaps the most hyped of all was yesterday�s from Vampire Weekend, the preppy Afro-popsters who were compiling binders of New York Times and Spin press clippings before they even put out an album (their ascension has only continued since the album finally dropped.) A fortuitous (and much appreciated) connection put me on the �must get in list� for the show, which despite the name, he told me, only gave me just a slight chance of getting in. And sure enough, the crowd was already well over capacity when I arrived. Two long lines waited; one for people who were on the list to get in (not all of whom would be so lucky), and an even longer one for those who stood absolutely no chance of getting in. I eventually made the cut in time to see opener Bon Iver, the indie-folk outfit which sounded as beautiful live as on record. When Justin Vernon rode his long, blissful falsetto, the audience closed their eyes contently. Perhaps improbably, Vampire Weekend also lived up to their considerably greater hype. They had the crowd singing along, stomping and dancing through their entire set. I still think that they risk a massive backlash once their novelty wears off

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Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008

Tonight @ Mad Planet - 9:00 PM

Like so many electronic- and dance-music collectives, the Chicago group Mahjongg is difficult to label. Their new, second album, Kontpab, blends a host of electronic and synthesized textures and sounds, but it also prominently features a strong whiff of Afro-beat rhythms, proving that blog-favorites Vampire . . .
01.29.2008 | | Posted at 12:00 AM
By Evan Rytlewski
For the last eight months, the chorus of bloggers shouting about how Vampire Weekend will become the next big thing has become absolutely deafening. Today, after almost a year of this hype, the band finally releases its debut album, and soon we�ll see whether these predictions come true. It�s an interesting test of the blogosphere�s tastemaking chops, since over the few years, new media�s s...