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'Humbug,' the 3rd album from Sheffield's Arctic Monkeys finds the band brimming with vim, vigor and new ideas. They brought in a new production accomplice, Josh Homme, for some of the recording. He generously hosted and produced tracks with them at his Joshua Tree studio. Then they rejoined forces with James Ford, producer of the previous 2 Arctic Monkeys and Last Shadow Puppets albums, in Brooklyn, NY to complete the tracks that became 'Humbug.' The album is stunning set of songs both heavier and lush than previous albums but still full of the Monkeys usual punch and vitality.89% (12)
The Observer - Vampire Weekend Review, 17th Jan 2010
This article appeared on p14 of the The critics section of the Observer on Sunday 17 January 2010. Review by Kitty Empire: A thousand or so fans have just chanted the guitar line to Vampire Weekend's "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" and flung themselves around as though an electric current has been run through the dancefloor. "Thank you, Kingston!" offers singer Ezra Koenig, with a twinkle in his eye. Kingston upon Thames, a rather nice bit of south-west London, is a far cry from Kingston, Jamaica. But until Vampire Weekend tour the West Indies and Koenig can repeat the line straight, Kingston will have to do. Vampire Weekend first gained notoriety when their self-titled debut album of 2008 drew greedily on the music of climates hot and cold. It fused punk speed with Anglophile indie pop and the melodic guitar flurries of west Africa. Their second album, Contra, out last Monday, borrows gleefully from Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Mexico, as well as Californian ska-punk. You can hear the Caribbean sources best tonight on "Holiday", a frantic uptight skank that packs observations about print fonts and dithering into one joyous outburst. New York's most rarefied world music outfit are in London for a mere 48 hours. They are a band built for speed. Earlier in the evening they played a free gig on a balcony at Somerset House; now it's going on midnight and they have nipped several miles down the A3 to play a thriving indie club night chosen, you suspect, for the opportunity it affords Koenig to say, 'Thank you, Kingston!" with his tongue in his cheek. Koenig is not the only one enjoying himself. Vampire Weekend seem like the happiest band in the world right now, one at the peak of their considerable powers. On the left of the stage, Rostam Batmanglij – wrapped in a woolly scarf and hat – fiddles purposefully with keyboards and guitar. Lanky bassist Chris Baio cavorts to the right, keeping eye contact with sensational drummer Chris Tomson, mustering everything from punky canters to complex polkas with the hard-drilled repetition that looks like telepathy. They execute a perfect transition from the relatively straightforward "Campus" into the halting, three-legged "Oxford Comma", rewarded by a gutsy cheer. Of the new songs, "California English" should be virtually unplayable live. Its tricksy rhythms nod towards Puerto Rican reggaeton and African hi-life, while Koenig's breakneck vocals are Auto-tuned to the point of dubby distortion. Naturally, they pull it off; Koenig's squiggles of guitar form the icing on the cake. Contra is a far more digital album than Vampire Weekend was. But much of the tonal layering supervised by Batmanglij on disc is transposed back on to guitars tonight, losing nothing of its precision. Koenig cuts loose on his semi-acoustic, playing ecstatic surf guitar runs on "Cousins", this album's successor to "A-Punk", Vampire Weekend's most moshable two minutes. Beer bottles ricochet approvingly off the lighting rig when they eventually play the latter mid-set. The audience make like mackerel caught in a purse seine net, only happier. The success of their debut prompted a salted backlash against Vampire Weekend that rumbled on for much of last year. The main thrust of the "cultural tourist" argument against VW ran thus: how dare four clean-cut Ivy League graduates co-opt the music of Africa and repackage it for an audience of Wasps? In their defence, Koenig has done his best to plead Jewish and Iranian heritage (Batmanglij) as well as suburban ordinariness before they went to Columbia University. The counter-argument, meanwhile, points out that music is free and Vampire Weekend's are not colonialist exploiters but magpie enthusiasts. Contra won't change the minds of those who detest Vampire Weekend. But tonight's gig confirms that they are quite simply a party band whose dexterity, eclecticism and education are pressed into the service of a seriously good time.EROS 2010 Quicky
Painted with Sinek and Celer. Quick Freestyle. If you saw the green Piece on a hopper I posted about a week ago......... I told of how after about the third train passed us and we had to hide out on the other side of the car, I got the genius notion that we should probably just rock something real quick on one of the hoppers while we were waiting. Well, this is what I rocked. We all rocked some simples to pass the time and produced another E to E in about 20-30 mins. It was a lot of fun. Then went back to work on the other ones once we were able to. Crazy thing about this day, was that Sinek was flown up here to paint some hot Models for an event. He was suppose to show up and get busy at about 7:30pm. Unfortunately, and fortunately, there was no way to make it there at that time. The guy called him at about 7:30 and Sinek broke it down like a real writer would and just told him, "Hey, this is what I do." The guy was cool and we just continued to finish up the first E to E production we started. Then we proceeded to make our long journey back to the ride, from the middle of nowhere, to get him to his show, which was like a 35 minute drive from there. We ended up getting there at about 9:30 and it was none too soon. There was hardly anyone at the event, which was at an Asian Restaurant, turned wedding chapel/nightclub. We proceeded to chill, eat some Shrimp Fried Rice and kill quite a few buckets of Heineken. Meanwhile, Sinek rocked some dope artwork on the models and myself and Celer enjoyed the show or should I say, atleast tried to. It was crazy. The event was a hodgepodge of crazy shit going on and the Local Asian gangs weren't really havin' it. After they literally reduced a female comedian to tears and she ended up giving the Microphone up to one of the hecklers, we knew it was going to be a fun night. We listened to some local rappers and some rappers from Chicago, while we killed more Heineken and watched as the tension on the dancefloor began to build. Especially, after one of the fools in the audience approached one of the rappers and asked if he could turn the music down. It was evident, "something", was about to go down. All of a sudden, in a blink of an eye...... There was a room full of servers, us and a bunch of women. Normally, That's a good thing but with how hype these fools were, I was just expecting to hear some shots ring out. (maybe that's the Cali in me) Luckily, nothing that we know of ever came of the situation and in about 20 minutes the dance-floor started to fill up again with Dudes. All the while, Sinek and I were hyping each other up about gettin' out there and B-boying to some old school funk. Unfortunately, they never played anything good but looking at the disgrace that was happening on the dance-floor, we felt obligated to make something happen. First close B-Boyable song to come on, we broke for it. We hit it up for a couple minutes doing our best impression of real dancing and proceeded to watch as the circle began to emerge and fools started to battle. No one really had any skills and after a while it began to look like a Kung Fu match. Which brings me to the perfect phrase layed down by my boy Celer to describe the look of the event. He coined it perfectly with, "The Kung Fu Rave Chapel"....... Like all good nights, they must come to an end and this rare one did in true Minnesota tradition of driving long distances for an afterparty that generally, doesn't get off the ground. It was cool, though. We were able to chill, build and realize that writers, no matter where we are from or at, all have a similar way of thinking and a swagger that makes us a standout in a world of carbon copies. We can get down anywhere.......... Much respect to the Homies for coming out and showing the T.C, some Luv.
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