Saturday, May 31, 2008

The rising G.P.A of indie rock.

What’s going on world? I’m Ed and I’ve been graced with the offer to write about music every once and a while for Caitlin’s acerbic bubblegum. We’ll see how regularly I’ll get around to posting, but I’ll try and come at you with some great music from time to time. Hope you enjoy the first edition. I figured I’d kick off the summer with some indie rockers who crushed their SAT’s back in the day.

The Ivy League has been recognized for its contributions to a number of important cultural and social movements, but indie rock? Over the last few months, indie groups with degrees are a establishing a peculiar new trend in music. Three acts that find themselves at the crest of this “smart music” wave are: Chester French, Vampire Weekend, and MGMT:

Chester French emerged from the basement of a Harvard dorm room last spring to sign with Pharrell William's Star Trak records. Just after graduation, their demo attracted significant interest from Kanye West, Jermaine Dupri, and Jimmy Lovine, which led to a bidding war. D.A. Wallach and Maxwell Drummery have found themselves in interesting territory without even releasing an album. Their first, tentatively titled “Love the Future” hasn't even hit the shelves yet and these guys have already garnered acclaim from Rolling Stone and others, as one of the artists to watch in 2008. Their eclectic sound constantly evolves which each new track that comes out and their sound is downright addictive. At this point I think their hardest test will be to see if they can live in L.A. and continue to create great music without losing themselves in some over-hyped rock wasteland. Hopefully they make it through and if their hilarious interviews are any indication, these guys will be huge. In an interview with Gak City, Max joked around about waking up each morning with “an eight ball and a blowjob.” “She Loves Everybody” is a good track to start with, and you can find some live footage as well as past clips from interviews on their MySpace page.

Vampire Weekend. These Columbia University guys are my personal favorites out of this bunch. They've already toured across the US and they've got a prime timeslot in this summer's Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco. Although premature in March Spin Magazine named Vampire Weekend “The Year's Best New Band.” The best part about this group is that they return to the upbeat African influenced rock music made legendary by Paul Simon once upon a time. Described as “Upper West Side Soweto,” their self-titled debut, which was released in January of 2008, has caught fire. With songs like “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” “Blake's Got a New Face,” “Mansard Roof” and “M79,” these four kids who met while studying on the Upper West Side in Manhattan are now embarking on a world tour. For those of you in New York, Vampire Weekend will be playing for free at the Central Park Summer Stage on June 14th at 1pm. Unlike Chester French, Vampire Weekend has a ton of content online. The best place to find tracks off their new album, as well as live tracks and b-sides is online at Hype Machine.

MGMT. Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, graduates from sister Ivy Weslyan, have moved their epicenter to Brooklyn and splattered their shape-shifting psychedelic pop all over the music scene. Gaining acclaim from bloggers and music magazines alike, they're entrancing songs such as “Time to Pretend”, “Weekend Wars” and others have brought a vibrant brand of originality onto the music scene of the moment. Their album Oracular Spectacular is one I was hesitant to get into, but upon a second listen it’s really something fantastic. Playing BFD, Bonnaroo, McCarren Park Pool, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, Leeds and Austin City Limits this summer will give this duo considerable tour experience immediately. Pick up their album Oracular Spectacular or check our some of their tracks on Hype Machine or their MySpace for a listen.

Congratulations to all of the ‘08 graduates including my brother, Brad. I wish you all the best in D.C.



Jonny said...

E.B. $ = The Truth

Brad said...

Great post Ed, Chester French has a really unique sound, and they definitely seemed to like your comments based on the response on their myspace page.