Friday, April 30, 2010

Vampire Weekend: Contra

If you’ve never heard of Vampire Weekend, you might mistakenly think they’re a Goth band. In reality, they are four guys who live in New York City and met while they were students at Columbia a few years ago. In fact, they were named “Whitest Band” on the blog Stuff White People Like, in case you find that reassuring (that last bit was pulled from Wikipedia, so the information can’t be guaranteed). On a personal note, my best song on Guitar Hero is A-Punk from Vampire Weekend’s first album, which means it can’t be too far from the mainstream.

Contra is their second album and has gotten really good reviews, but I’m sorry to say it is not currently on Rolling Stone’s top 100 list. Their sound is a little “pop” with a twist of alternative, and most of the songs on Contra are pretty upbeat. I have read that they like the idea of sounding like they’ve got an international flair, and some of their songs do sound a bit ethnic. One thing I like about the album is that the songs sounds pretty different from one to the next, which is nice if you’re just getting to know a band- otherwise everything sounds kind of the same when you start listening.

If you want a quirky introduction to Vampire Weekend, check out their video on Youtube for Giving Up the Gun and you will be treated to a girl playing tennis against (in this order) Joe Jonas, Jake Gyllenhaal and Lil Jon. I’m not sure I understand the correlation to the lyrics, but it’s pretty entertaining.

My suggestion if you want to check out a song or two from the album would be Holiday, Run or Cousins. I’ve heard Cousins on the radio, and I’ve also heard Horchata. All in all, the album is pretty upbeat and fun- I would recommend it.

Other singles I like right now:

· Broken Bells – The High Road
· Findlay Brown – Everybody Needs Love
· Jayhawks – Blue
· Wilco – Jesus, Etc.

More later!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


As way of an introduction, I am a 42-year old mother of four great kids, two in middle school and two in high school. I have always worked fulltime and have worked my way up to the comfortable level of middle manager at a large financial institution. I like my work, love my kids, husband and home life, but I always feel that there is so much out in the world that needs to be explored that if I simply stick with my everyday routine I’ll be missing out.

I decided to start writing this blog for one primary reason: I love music. I in no way advertise myself as an expert in the field, although I would say I’m probably more adventurous and curious than a lot of people. I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy music and most people can rattle off the names of some artists who they enjoy but are primarily content to listen to whatever happens to be on the radio. There is another group, however, who feel more strongly about music and seek to discover new music, finding a thrill in something previously unknown. I fall into that latter camp. There are still others who enjoy new music but don’t necessarily have the time or desire to go out looking for it. I’m hoping to bring together all of these groups.

I’m being a little selfish in starting this blog. I’m hoping to hear from people about what they like and share ideas. It both excites and frightens me that there is great music out there that I’m not aware of. I do my due diligence in trying to find it: I read Rolling Stone religiously, listen to satellite radio, pick up the new music cards at Starbucks, etc. I am a bit judicious about what I put on my iPod, though. When I buy a new album, that’s pretty much all I listen to for a good week or so- it takes me that long to really absorb and distinguish the various songs, particularly if it’s an artist I’m unfamiliar with. Although my dream job is to write for Rolling Stone, I’ve come to the realization that I’m far too slow to ever make that a reality (and I’m sure that’s the only reason). However, I feel like with my blog I can write at my own pace, share what I’m listening to and hopefully hear from others about what they’re listening to.

Please, I want to hear from you! I few times over the years people have made mix tapes for me (CDs, I guess), which I think is the greatest gift, especially if there are songs on there I didn’t know before. Sometimes someone will email me a recommendation, also very much appreciated. I’ll share what I’ve been listening to and try to give it some context and maybe you can get some new ideas. Please do the same!

Now, about the music I like… I have fairly diverse taste and like everything from mainstream pop to R&B to alternative. I’m not hot on country or heavy metal and don’t go all the way to the left on the alternative spectrum. Not into religious music, either. During my high school years in the mid 80’s I was very into Eric Clapton, James Taylor and Bruce Springsteen, all solid but not super risky. In college I branched out to Talking Heads and R.E.M. (crazy!). Post-college took me to Dave Matthews, Bodeans and the like. While I’ll try just about anything, the artists and groups I’ve really been passionate about in the past few years have been John Legend, Kanye West, Mary J. Blige (I should mention now that I am not black, although my mom swears I got excited when the Jackson 5 was playing as a baby), the Black Eyed Peas, and lately I’ve been working my way through various Wilco albums (I know, I’m a late bloomer).

What follows is a list of my favorite albums as I look through my iPod. Often an album will have one or two good songs but not be super strong overall. The ones that follow are classics, in my opinion (albeit limited in scope):

• Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
• BeyoncĂ© – Dangerously in Love
• Dave Matthews Band – Under the Table and Dreaming, Crash and Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (can’t pick just one for Dave)
• Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs
• Eric Clapton – Behind the Sun
• Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine
• Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have it So Much Better
• Jack Johnson – In Between Dreams (I call him the modern James Taylor)
• James Taylor – Greatest Hits (don’t worry, James Baby- I haven’t replaced you!)
• John Legend – Get Lifted
• Kanye West – Late Registration
• Kid Rock – Rock N Roll Jesus (hide the children)
• Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville (again, caution with the explicit version – our homegirl from Chicago can talk street, that’s for sure)
• Mary J. Blige – Growing Pains
• Modest Mouse – Good News for People Who Love Bad News (love the title, too!)
• R.E.M. – Reckoning (oldie but goodie!)
• Sia – Some People Have Real Problems (how can you not love someone who has this album title!)
• Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

Agree or disagree- let me know! Maybe you can get an idea or two or chime in.
Stay tuned- I will get more current and let you know what I think is good right now on future posts.