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Ears & Fingers 5/16/13

by Jason Leger

Vampire Weekend – ‘Modern Vampires of the City’
I love Vampire Weekend. There, I said it. I think this has been a fact that a lot of people don’t expect from me. Based solely on the way I look—and have looked with long hair, one would probably expect to hear Slayer or Zao billowing aggressively from whatever speakers I have nearby, and on occasion that happens, but more often than not a passerby is treated to something more along the lines of “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” or “Giving Up The Gun.” When you work in a motorcycle shop like I do, these songs can attract strange looks. When I heard the announcement of “Modern Vampires of the City,” the band’s third studio album, excitement doesn’t quite cover how I felt. I was exasperated with anticipation. That’s hyperbolic, but you get the point. On my first listen, it all felt very familiar. Ezra Koenig’s recognizable voice, the subtle pop nuances, the overall euphonious brightness are all things which have continuously brought Vampire Weekend to the top of the indie pop world. However, as with most bands, Vampire Weekend are growing and changing and have been for some time. These are not the same Ivy League brats we came to know in 2007. Higher energy points like single “Diane Young” aside, a greater portion of this album is more subdued than past efforts. Whimsical opener “Obvious Bicycle” sets the pace for songs like “Hannah Hunt” and “Ya Hey” to carry on. However, don’t think that this is a rigid or boring affair. “Worship You,” “Everlasting Arms,” and the aforementioned “Diane Young” have the kind of pomp we need from Vampire Weekend. I think this album will bring in new fans for the band and I also think that VW faithful will be more than pleased. I know that I am. “Modern Vampires of the City” is out now via XL Recordings.

Snowden – ‘No One in Control’
Jordan Jeffares certainly knows how to build suspense. In 2006, under the name Snowden, which you’re probably more familiar with, he turned plenty of heads with the release of “Anti-Anti” on Jade Tree Records. He undertook several tours supporting bigger-name acts, and then for all accounts and purposes fell off the face of the planet. In 2010, the “Slow Soft Syrup EP” appeared for free online. It was almost a plea of “please bear with me a little longer,” and I’ll admit, the EP was satiating. Not necessarily three years’ worth of satiating though. Now, seven years after the release of “Anti-Anti,” Jeffares has finally released his sophomore long player to the world, and in all honesty, I think it’s been worth the wait. “No One in Control” is most of a decade’s worth of growth, change and instrumental post-pubescence. When someone can do something great with minimal sound or production, it becomes easy for them to maintain my full attention. Jeffares seems to have become a minimalist in the span between albums. Every instrument, every line, every chord is coherent and clean, which to me shows a maturing artist. Jeffares repeats lines in several songs as if to add force to the ideas he has been waiting so long for someone to listen to. “It’s not that simple.” I know, Jordan, I know. So far, the driving, rhythmic “Keep Quiet” and the Top of the Pops worthy “The Beat Comes” have been released as singles, but I think this is an exercise in modesty with gems like “Hiss,” “Not Good Enough,” and dreamy closer “This Year” lying in wait on the album. Welcome back, Snowden, don’t be such a stranger this time around. “No One in Control” is out now via Serpents & Snakes Records.