Short Review Series: Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of The City

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Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
XL Recordings

RIYL: Arcade Fire, Haim, Passion Pit
Must-Hear Songs: Unbelievers, Diane Young, Hannah Hunt

Grade: A

It’s hard to deny how catchy Vampire Weekend’s hits were from previous records. Songs like A-Punk, M79, and Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa are beyond catchy, but it’s understandable that you want a record full of songs this catchy. Luckily, their latest release provides you with that wish. Song after song is better than the next, truly elevating their sound to become more than just the darlings of indie music. With the release of this record, Vampire Weekend has solidified their place in the top ranks of the best indie rock bands of this decade. Ranging from dance songs like Diane Young to somber introspective songs like Hannah Hunt and everything in between, this album is chocked full of fantastic songs that show off their remarkable growth in songwriting. This one is sure to make a lot of end of year lists.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_qKmTLbEPc]

Buy it on Amazon or iTunes.

Song of the Week: St. Lucia’s “Elevate”

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“Elevate”
St. LuciaElevate – Single
Columbia Records / Neon Gold

A quick Google search of “St. Lucia” will offer you some terrific vacation spots for the small Caribbean Island that is part of the Lesser Antilles. Although not a St. Lucia native, the Johannesburg born songwriter Jean-Philip Grobler draws his inspiration from childhood vacations to the beautiful tropical island. Grobler’s St. Lucia has taken off very rapidly, with a slot at Lollapalooza on Saturday August 3rd (as well as an aftershow slot at the Lincoln Hall), and a new album coming out October 8th with the support of Columbia Records.

There’s no better way to try and describe St. Lucia’s music than by listening to the latest single, “Elevate.” With a tremendous amount of 80s pop influence, St. Lucia refines the once comical sound into a dance inducing popular sound that is quickly coming back. Grobler’s soaring vocals show off his remarkable range and provide a catchy melody from start to finish.

With a history of starting the careers of artists such as Passion Pit and Ellie Goulding, St. Lucia has set themselves up very well by choosing Neon Gold to help them release their debut album.

You can download the song for FREE below.

You can also download St. Lucia’s most recent EP on iTunes or Amazon, as well as like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

FREE DOWNLOAD

(To download song, right click link and select “Save Link As…”)

Album Review: Ra Ra Riot – Beta Love

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Ra Ra RiotBeta Love
Barsuk Records
Release Date – January 22, 2013

Recommended if you like: Passion Pit, Tokyo Police Club, Yeasayer

A lot has changed since the 2010 release of The Orchard from Ra Ra Riot. The departure of cellist Alexandra Lawn have moved the band out of their signature orchestral-indie-rock sound, and the exit of drummer Gabe Duquette has ushered in a new theme of layered programmed drums. For long time fans of the Syracuse band, you may be in for a bit of a shock.

The album starts out strong, with a catchy musical arrangement and an opening lyric we can all relate to: “Oh, I mostly feel I had a good day. It wasn’t that great.” Their foray into the electro-pop world continues to be promising, with the help of “Binary Mind,” “Beta Love,” and “Is It Too Much.” Lead single and title track “Beta Love” offers their new sound at its best. Lead singer Wes Miles’ chest voice and falsetto mix help emphasize the strength of the chorus while keeping you interested in each verse. It’s an excellent choice for the single, and will definitely be getting some play on alternative radio.

The promising electro-pop move ends about 5 songs into the album, unfortunately. “Angel, Please” has an odd key change leading into the chorus that would make any musician question the reasoning behind it. “What I Do For U” is beyond bizarre; the hip hop style drum beat behind arpeggiated keyboard chords with falsetto vocals are certain to throw you for a loop. The same drum beat comes back in “When I Dream,” but thankfully helps revive a little life into the second half of the album. Beta Love  closes with “I Shut Off,” which leaves a little bit to be desired.

In their attempt to move away from their old sound, Ra Ra Riot has certainly made strides in the right direction. What is certain is that they are not at the top of their game yet. Let’s just hope they don’t wait another 3 years to show us how good they can be.

Rating: 5.2/10

You can listen to the entire album streaming on YouTube as well as pre-order the album on Amazon and iTunes. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Some Favorites of 2012 So Far

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So I haven’t been posting much lately about music, and figured I would get you all up to speed on some of the new music I’ve been listening to this year. Hope you enjoy!


Boys and Girls
Alabama Shakes
Recommended Song – Hold On
Listen Here
Haven’t given these guys as much of a listen as I ought to, but their music has a cool sound to it. Go check them out.


Break It Yourself
Andrew Bird
Recommended Song – Give It Away
Listen Here
Another album I haven’t given a lot of attention to yet, but Andrew Bird’s stuff is always so good.


Not Quite Yours
Barcelona
Recommended Song – Watching Me
Listen Here
This is one I’ve been given a lot of spins. It’s quite different from their first album musically, but I think that’s what I like so much about it. Great feel, great music.


Holy Weather
Civil Twilight
Recommended Song – Fire Escape
Listen Here
I first heard about these guys from an Instagram picture by Jamie Tworkowski. I checked them out and really liked their stuff. I thought they sounded similar to Mutemath, and now they’re opening for them this fall. Really cool music.


Gin House
Gin House
Recommended Song – Marianna
Listen Here
I might be a little biased here, but I love these guys. It’s been a lot of fun seeing them go from cutting demos on Macbooks to getting to record their EP with Jeremy SH Griffith in NYC. Gin House has nowhere to go but up, and I’m so excited to see it happen.


Cold Hard Want
House of Heroes
Recommended Song – Out My Way
Listen Here
Man, this album is currently my AOTY. I love The End Is Not The End, but had trouble getting into Suburba. I had high hopes about this release, and I have certainly not been let down. I love the feel of this one from top to bottom. If you like good rock music, do yourself a favor and give this one a listen. You will not be sorry.


Born And Raised
John Mayer
Recommended Song – Something Like Olivia
Listen Here
You never know what to expect with John Mayer. He went from acoustic pop, to straight up pop, to blues and soul, back to pop, and now he’s playing country. And he does them all so well. I’m really like this album, and I think you will as well.


Believe
Justin Bieber
Recommended Song – Be Alright
Listen Here
Say what you will about J-Biebs, but he’s got a killer voice. Oh, and it’s dropped about 2 1/2 octaves finally. A lot of variety, a lot of special guests, and a lot of really catchy songs on this album. Expect to see this on my End of the Year List.


Wild Blood
Lovedrug
Recommended Song – Premonition
Listen Here
I gave this album a listen when it first came out, wasn’t really feeling it and didn’t give it another listen until about 2 weeks ago. I’ve been kicking myself ever since. I love Michael Shepherd’s vocals, the guitar work, and the harmonies in the choruses of the songs.


My Head Is An Animal
Of Monsters And Men
Recommended Song – Dirty Paws
Listen Here
Man, I just realized I haven’t given this album a listen in a while. Really enjoyed this album, but it’s hard to not fall in love with a good Icelandic band.


Up All Night
One Direction
Recommended Song – Gotta Be You
Listen Here
Sure, What Makes You Beautiful is catchy as all get out, but have you heard the rest of this album? It’s pretty darn catchy, too. And actually pretty good for a boy band. Give it a listen before you judge.


Gossamer
Passion Pit
Recommended Song – Take A Walk
Listen Here
This album just came out yesterday, but I’m pretty excited to give this some listens. Nicole got me into Passion Pit, and I’ve been ready for this new release for quite a while.


Who’s Feeling Young Now?
Punch Brothers
Recommended Song – This Girl
Listen Here
I remember when all of us roommates got into Chris Thile’s music: The Goat Rodeo Sessions, Nickel Creek, Chris Thile & Michael Daves, Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer, and most definitely Punch Brothers. The mandolin, the banjo, the harmonies, and everything else make this a very memorable album. Give it a listen and fall in love.


A Minor Bird
Sucré
Recommended Song – When We Were Young
Listen Here
I accidentally found out about these guys. With Stacy Dupree-King of Eisley, Darren King of Mutemath, and Jeremy Larson of awesomeness, how could you not like them?


How Long
The Tower and The Fool
Recommended Song – How Long
Listen Here
This album came out of nowhere for me. I saw it written about nonchalantly on AbsolutePunk.net, decided to check it out, and fell in love. Reminds me quite a bit of The Dangerous Summer, but hopefully less dramatic on the band side.


Future Like Snow
Trent Dabbs
Recommended Song – Come To Life
Listen Here
Another album I haven’t given a lot of listens to, but I know it will be great off principle. Would really love to see Trent push this album harder, because I don’t even think most people know he’s released this. Good music from what I’ve heard so far, but you should join me in giving it a few more listens.

What music are you listening to from 2012 that I haven’t listed? Would love to hear!

-matthew