Saturday Afternoon Artists – The Influences of Vampire Weekend


Greetings Friends. DJ Michele Myers here. And this week on the show we’re gonna take a look at present-day pop wizards Vampire Weekend and some legendary artists whose sound influenced their work.

On the first hearing of this New York band, there were so many obvious influences, I was concerned that it was too derivative. Not personal enough.  It’s the artist showing his unique side or sound that usually makes them great.

But then I listened more closely, and found that they were adding, not only an individual touch in the lyrics and delivery but also a twist, in the way the sound morphed into its own form.

The song “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance”  from the 2008 self-titled album was the one that got me.

In Vampire Weekend’s sound, I heard the lead vocals of Paul Simon.

And the same familiar warm echo of guitars, and the meeting of African music and pop like on Simon’s 1986 release, Graceland.

There was also a strong rock and international blend similar to the Kinks.  The summery, sensidude textures of that band.

And guitar tone and percussion from South African artists like Miriam Makeba.

The 2010 Vampire Weekend release Contra is quickly becoming the album of the summer. And the vocals sound even more like Paul Simon. In fact they even mention him in the song “Diplomat’s Son”.

A song that is as haunting and beautiful as it is contemporary and original.  Which goes to show that influences make you stronger, and can take you to a totally new place.  Like the famous scientist Sir Isaac Newton said: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Michele Myers will air this feature on the show Saturday from 3-6pm. And that night will spin at the Snoqualmie World Music Festival at 8pm right before legendary Afro-funk artist Tony Allen!

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  1. Ellen
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    The lyrics in ‘Diplomat’s Son” actually do not mention Paul Simon, they refer to Paul Simonon, the bassist of The Clash. That whole song is basically an homage to The Clash, whose lead singer, Joe Strummer, was a diplomat’s son. The title of the album, Contra, is a complicated reference to the Nicaraguan revolutionaries whom The Clash sought to defend.

  2. johnny
    Posted May 22, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    hey ellen no its not
    contra means against
    Ezra liked how the word sounded and how it had so many different meanings
    the album title has nothing to do with Nicaraguan revolutionaries =]

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