New Releases

Vampire Weekend Share Three "Father of the Bride" Bonus Tracks

The songs, originally available only in Japan, are now streaming worldwide.

Last May, Vampire Weekend returned from a five-year hiatus with their fourth studio album, Father of the Bride.

At 18 tracks and an hour long, it marks the seminal indie band's most expansive release yet—yet there's still more where that came from. Today, Ezra Zoenig and company have shared three additional songs from the Father of the Bride sessions, originally included as bonus tracks from the Japanese release of the album: "Houston Dubai," "I Don't Think Much About Her No More," and "Lord Ullin's Daughter."

"Houston Dubai" is an upbeat acoustic tune that harks back to Vampire Weekend's first releases. "I got a wife back home you know / She always thinks I cheat," Koenig sings. "I think about those dead end days / When life was light and sweet." "I Don't Think About Her Much No More," a hushed Mickey Newbury cover, features echoing background vocals that are reminiscent of Bob Dylan. A surprise cameo comes from Jude Law on "Lord Ullin's Daughter," who reads a 200-year-old Scottish poem over an early piano rendition of FOTB track "Big Blue."

"At first, I wanted to make two 23-song albums on some human chromosome s--t," Koenig explained upon announcing FOTB. "But then 23&me started doing Spotify playlists and I don't know…felt we'd been scooped.⁣"

Maybe we'll get that massive double-album someday, but for now, you can check out the new-to-streaming bonus tracks below.

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Music Lists

20 Music Predictions for the 2020s

What will our favorite artists be up to this decade?

Now that we're deep enough into 2020 that our New Year's Resolutions have wilted away, it's time to focus on things that matter most: what our favorite musicians will get up to in the decade to come.

A lot can happen in 10 years; hell, Spotify hadn't even hit the United States yet when the last decade began. Since 2010, the music world has been shook with Beyonce's surprise self-titled album, Lady Gaga's meat dress, Ariana Grande's massive benefit concert for Manchester, and Billboard revamping their Hot 100 formulations to include YouTube hits, making viral dance number "Harlem Shake" a surprise No. 1. So, what's next?

Here are 20 events we think could take the music world by storm in the 2020s.

-Grimes pivots from electropop's robo-queen to full-time mommy blogger. She and her unborn child's father, Elon Musk, reportedly launched an Instagram account for their baby, which has "family friendly spon-con" written all over it.


-Lizzo teaches a flute masterclass for those aspiring to follow her example of woodwind-assisted twerking.


-A documentary, or maybe even a hologram tour, of Mac Miller is created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his debut LP, Blue Slide Park.

Getty Images


-Too preoccupied by being obsessed with his wife, Chance the Rapper quietly retires from music.


-Ariana Grande dates a minimum of two high-profile, tattooed, skinny white men before tying the knot.


-Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy form a duo, Soccer Snail, and release an album together. They still get mistaken for each other.


-Facebook launches a music streaming platform.


-100 gecs headline a major music festival.


-Billboard starts factoring in TikTok plays to calculate songs' positions on the charts.


-Lil Nas X—already known to be a hit with kids—pens a Wild West-themed children's book, and a coinciding G-rated soundtrack.


-Post Malone opens a tattoo studio in New York City, further pushing the popularity of facial script tattoos.


-Drake makes a cameo in Euphoria, commencing his full return to acting.


-Following the Dixie Chicks' highly-successful comeback, they collaborate with Kacey Musgraves.


-It is revealed that Vampire Weekend frontman, Ezra Koenig, and his longtime partner, Parks and Recreation star Rashida Jones, secretly got married years ago during an intimate ceremony at Columbia University's Butler Library.


-The Postal Service—the band with Ben Gibbard, not the government agency—reunite for a 20th anniversary performance of their sole album, Give Up.


-My Chemical Romance are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (they'll be eligible in 2027).


-Feeling inspired by his Sunday Service performance at Joel Osteen's megachurch, Kanye West opens his own megachurch near his home in Wyoming. Tourism in Wyoming reaches record highs as a result.


-Billie Eilish surpasses Van Halen in record sales.


-In the wake of the the climate crisis, an allegiance of major artists will cease touring to minimize their carbon footprint.


-Speaking of climate, Greta Thunberg launches her singer-songwriter career. Her breakout hit is a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," the original environmentalist anthem. It becomes a No. 1 hit, and Thunberg donates all the proceeds to various environmental groups.

Ezra Koenig was drawn to the cover photo of Contra because of its vagueness and candid nature.

The eyes staring back at you from Vampire Weekend's second record are so striking, so intentional, that it's fair to assume the Polaroid was taken for the sole purpose of the album. But in fact, the photo is older than Koenig himself, one he found by browsing the image hosting service Flickr. "The ambiguity of her age and expression made me feel like she was on the cusp of something, which really matches the vibe of the new album," the band's frontman explained. "Wrapped up in her expression is this question: 'How is she feeling?' Maybe she wasn't even really sure at the time." Though Contra just turned 10 years old, the simple Polo shirt and gold hoops of its cover girl feel ageless, and the album itself remains an enduring touchstone of indie rock that's become a considerable classic itself.

But Vampire Weekend didn't need to make another iconic record. Their 2008 self-titled debut spawned their first certified gold single, "A-Punk," further popularized by soundtracks to films like Step Brothers and video games like Guitar Hero 5. In the expansive realm of art-rock acts to emerge around the same time, Vampire Weekend's blend of afropop and chamber pop wasn't just an act of pandering to the same kids who fawned over bands like Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective; it was a bunch of New York prepsters paving new roads for indie music.

Vampire Weekend - 'Holiday' (official video) www.youtube.com


Though their debut was plenty brave, Contra saw Vampire Weekend introduce a wider pool of influences and exercise new sounds. "California English" utilized an unlikely dash of Auto-Tune, while tracks like "Run" and "White Sky" implemented electronic instrumentation that was previously unheard of from them. The "Miserlou"-approximating guitar trills of "Cousins" are the band at their most chaotic. They sampled British rapper M.I.A. for the bouncy "Diplomat's Son," only to follow it up with the closing "I Think Ur a Contra," a peaceful, heart-wrenching breakup ballad that remains one of Vampire Weekend's most stunning songs to date.

Vampire Weekend - 'Cousins' (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com


Recently, music journalist Evan Rytlewski tweeted a metric he uses to estimate a band's greatness—which he calls the "Strokes test"—that's had my brain rattling for days: "Would people still care about this band if their best album did not exist?" Vampire Weekend were one of the first bands I thought of who'd pass the test with flying colors. They're one of those bands whose "best album" will be hotly debated for years to come; some favor the new-band rootsiness of their self-titled, while others, like myself, tend to lean towards the polished atmosphere of their 2013 masterpiece, Modern Vampires of the City. A minority delight in the sheer amusement of their comeback double album, last year's Father of the Bride.

The only certainty of Contra is that it solidified this gang of Columbia grads as not one-time successes, but as torchbearers of indie rock that'll continue to be idolized and imitated countless times, decades on. Years after "A-Punk" stops autoplaying on our car stereos, Contra serves as indication of a band qualified to stay for both a good time and a long time.

Vampire Weekend - I Think Ur A Contra www.youtube.com

MUSIC

13 Celebrities Who Are Feeling the Bern

These stars have publicized their support for Bernie Sanders.

Recently, Twitter was gifted with visual documentation of Ariana Grande's biggest smile ever.

It occurred when the ponytailed pop princess met Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who attended Grande's Atlanta show in a delightful cable knit sweater. "MY GUY," read Grande's caption, essentially solidifying her endorsement in the 2020 election.

This is only the most recent example on a long list of celebrities declaring their love for Senator Sanders. Below, we're sharing just a few well-known stars and Internet personalities who have declared that they're feeling the Bern.

Weyes Blood

The musician Weyes Blood—whose incredible album Titanic Rising we named one of last year's best—started 2020 by meeting her candidate of choice. The singer-songwriter, real name Natalie Mering, shared a photo of herself and Sanders, publicizing her decision for the 2020 race.



Cardi B

"I been reading about Bernie Sanders and I'm really sad how we let him down in 2016," the "Bodak Yellow" rapper tweeted over the summer, emphasizing that improving the country has been a proven passion of his and "not a new front for a campaign." In August, the unlikely friends appeared in a campaign video together, in which Cardi interviewed Sanders about social issues especially relevant to his platform, including police brutality, DACA, and the student debt crisis—from a nail salon, naturally.

John Mulaney

Though Mulaney once subtly compared Donald Trump in the White House to a horse in a hospital, the Big Mouth comedian keeps his political opinions separate from his jokes. It might be surprising, then, to know that Mulaney donated at least $1,250 to Sanders' 2016 campaign. "I have a problem with 'Comedians are really brave and we need them now more than ever,'" he told Esquire this year. "It's like, we're not congressmen. We're court jesters." In that case, Mulaney's the most generous court jester we know.

Shailene Woodley

Woodley made headlines in 2016 after being arrested while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, but it didn't put a damper on her political activism. "I'm ready for the political revolution and all in it for Bernie Sanders," the Fault In Our Stars actress tweeted in June.

Mark Ruffalo

On a Late Show With Stephen Colbert appearance this month, Ruffalo explained that he's been feeling the Bern since the 2016 election. "The rest of the United States is just finally caught up to what [Sanders] has been doing his entire career. And you know that when he gets into office, he's going to be fighting for us," the Avengers: Endgame actor said.

Jaboukie Young-White

As a comedian and "actual young person" on The Daily Show, Twitter has become a major outlet for Young-White, so it makes sense that that's where he'd declare his endorsement. He kept it simple in the caption of a mirror selfie, in which he's wearing a Bernie t-shirt: "im a bernie bro."

Anthony Fantano

On his YouTube channel theneedledrop, Anthony Fantano has made a name for himself divulging his divisive opinions on music. But he has firm opinions on politics, too: "[Joe Biden's] brain is MELTING, and winning the primary will only lead to an inevitable implosion," the Internet personality tweeted after a Democratic debate in September. "Stop messing around with this fool and support other candidates—preferably Bernie."

Ezra Koenig

Koenig also supported Sanders in 2016, and said his band Vampire Weekend would like to "help out" the candidate in the 2020 election, too. But it's hard to match the energy of Sanders' first run: "I like to believe he's less of a sociopath than a lot of people who want to be president, but it's hard to be as excited as I was in 2016," Koenig told The Times. "That was the first time I felt deeply about a candidate."

Noname

Noname is no stranger to supporting a good cause—she started her own book club this year—and publicizing her endorsement of Sanders is only the latest on her to-do list of deeds. She simply tweeted the candidate's name with a green check mark emoji.

Miley Cyrus

Cyrus can also add activist to her resume, having founded the Happy Hippie Foundation to help trans and LGBTQ+ youth. It's no surprise that her views are in line with Sanders. When the senator shared Cardi B's tweet, he shared it on Instagram, to which the edgy pop star replied "True!"

Lil Yachty

Sanders fans were thrilled when the senator announced he was running for president again in February, and Lil Yachty was one of them. The red-dreadlocked rapper retweeted Sanders' campaign video with a straight-to-the-point "Let's gooooo" in solidarity.

Eric Andre

Sanders has long been vocal about legalizing marijuana, evidently a selling point for Eric Andre. "Can we please give this guy the keys to the whitehouse already?" the comedian implored on Instagram, captioning a photo promoting Sanders' plan for legalization.

Kim Gordon

Gordon, founding member of the iconic rock band Sonic Youth, used an adorable photo of her dog to share her endorsement: "Go Bernie!" she captioned an Instagram photo of her dog pawing a Bernie pin.

MUSIC

A Bitter Kind of Happiness: Vampire Weekend's New Album, Track by Track

Listening to Vampire Weekend's new album feels like taking a long, deep breath in the middle of Times Square.

In the heart of Times Square in midtown Manhattan, if you stand on top of a particular grate, you can hear a humming sound.

If you listen closely, it sounds like an Om, the ancient mantra used in meditation. That humming is actually an art piece, first installed by an artist named Max Neuhaus in the 1970s, created to see if anyone in Times Square would notice it.

In a way, that peaceful, persistent hum—in the midst of the violent brilliance of the modern wasteland that is midtown Manhattan—describes Vampire Weekend's newest album, Father of the Bride. It's an album that acknowledges the frantic distortions and surreality of our 21st-century existence, and embodies them sonically with erratic blends of instruments and shuffled rhythms, but also offers moments of almost surreal peacefulness and stillness.

Those moments wear many guises on the album. They're prevalent on its first track, "Hold You Now," which juxtaposes soft acoustic warbling with almost reverent, harmony-laden choruses, sung with the uncontained, innocent wildness of a children's choir. Danielle Haim's caramel-smooth vocals add a nice feeling of down-home country comfort to the song, but no track on this album remains within one genre for long. "This ain't the end of nothing much, it's just another round," Haim sings before the chorus swoops back in and lifts the whole thing into another place. It's a pure, kindhearted introduction to a complex treatise on the state of politics, love, and civilization at large.

"Hold You Now" moves to the more exuberant "Harmony Hall," then onto "Bambina," one of the moments where Vampire Weekend's genre-blending formula grows too chaotic for its own good. It alternates between angelic, reverential verses and frenetic, bouncy outbursts, creating a feeling of vertigo that feels as disorienting as a stroll through Times Square on a hot day. But maybe that's its purpose—to disorient the listener enough so that moments of peace and beauty feel extra vital amidst the neon and the noise.

The next few tracks, "This Life," "Big Blue," and "How Long?" continue to play with contrasts, balancing existential dread with detached, Zen-sounding observations. In traditional Vampire Weekend fashion, "This Life" touches on various cultural influences from around the world—it might even be referencing Buddhism's First Noble Truth, life is suffering (I've been cheating through this life, and all its suffering, Koening sings).

In between the creation of his last album and this one, Koening's son was born, and it's hard to imagine that this didn't have some influence on Father's content. The next track, "Big Blue," sounds oddly paternal, with its sunny strumming pattern and Creedence Clearwater Revival-esque solos. That's not to say that Ezra Koening has transitioned to dad rock—but there is something paternal about the whole album, something that screams, I love my son. With its warm background vocals and vaguely tropical peals of guitar, "Big Blue" is a veritable blanket of a song. "How Long" seems to be an expression of tender anxiety for the world's future, an intermingling of nostalgia for the irreverence of the past, existential musings, and a desire to escape the world at large and hide in the safe familiarity of one's family unit, despite impending disaster outside.

Vampire Weekend - Big Blue (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

Though it touches on many complex themes, Father of the Bride never dwells too long on a single topic. "Unbearably White" moves out from the domestic sphere into a self-aware examination of whiteness, a way of reflecting on the frequent criticisms of Vampire Weekend's tendency to capitalize on sounds and influences of other cultures. Instead of awkwardly apologizing, it veils its messages in obscure poetry; that doesn't excuse the band's tendency to steal and certainly doesn't excuse its members' white privilege, but luckily, the song doesn't try to do that at all. Instead, it luxuriates in its own ambiguity.

This ambiguity is one of Vampire Weekend's greatest strengths, alongside their ability to exercise restraint. Sometimes, with all the bells and chimes and shifting rhythms, you can feel the music straining at the bit, begging to burst into full-on chaos, but always there's a fall-back into a state of calm reflectiveness, an exhale just at the peak of the tension.

"Unbearably White" flows easily into "Rich Man," which sounds almost like a lullaby or a nursery rhyme, with its fairylike guitar fingerpicking and whimsical string sections. This instrumentation does a good job of framing its lyrics, which are rife with satirical critiques of the 1% billionaire class.

vampire weekend new album fotb Image via NME.com

"Married in a Gold Rush" forges ahead in the satirical vein, moving further into politics—"something's wrong with this country," Koenig begins, before moving into a song that may or may not be poking fun at MAGA-esque nostalgia for old wealth and old glories. It's sometimes hard to know the extent to which they're being overtly satirical or pointed, and most likely, that ambiguity is intentional.

All humor falls away on "My Mistake," which serves as a beautiful centerpiece in the midst of all the catastrophes, political unrest, pointed satire, and existentialism. If anything, this is the album's heartbeat, its humming in the midst of its billboards and apocalyptic rumination. It's a mournful ballad that sounds almost like musical theatre; you can imagine Koenig singing it while slouching over a grand piano, an empty glass of whiskey in his fingertips, red roses blooming somewhere on the edge of the frame. When the horns come in, it all comes together to create a rare kind of stillness.

Vampire Weekend - My Mistake (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

But then, of course, Koenig breaks the spell with "Sympathy," which he begins by saying, "I think I take myself too serious. It's not that serious," followed by a rumba undercut by Spanish guitar that moves into an upbeat, danceable track in the vein of "Diane Young." From there comes two tracks featuring Steve Lacy; the boisterous "Sunflower" and the psychedelic, nostalgic "Flower Moon." The latter sounds a bit like something out of Imogen Heap's catalog before blooming into a tropical-sounding blur of electric guitars and hand-claps.

"2021" looks to the future, working in the electronic influences proposed in "Flower Moon" and adding some attractively simple guitar lines to the mix. Danielle Haim returns on "We Belong Together," another pure love song that veers into saccharinity at times. Then "Stranger" returns to the innocence of "Big Blue" with its bouncy drums and cheery horns. Building on the self-awareness of "Sympathy," it almost feels almost like a laugh in the face of absurdity. "I used to look for an answer. I used to knock on every door," Koenig sings. "But you got the wave on, music playing, don't need to look anymore."

That's a comforting sentiment for anyone dismayed by the apparent lack of answers and clarity in all aspects of human existence. In his earlier work, Koenig's lyrics rigorously searched, questioning time and death and youth through many lenses—but on this album, for the first time, there's a sense that maybe motion for its own sake isn't worth the fight, that moments of stillness are just as important as the race to the finish line.

Vampire Weekend - 2021 (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

On "Spring Snow," Koening's autotuned vocals align neatly with a shimmering electronic piano. It's an entirely synthetic and strangely pleasing little jewel of a song that feels like it ends too quickly.

Still, its beauty is totally overshadowed by the album's final track, which is one of its strongest. "Jerusalem, New York, Berlin" evokes Bob Dylan with its lyrical acuity. It's a mournful tribute to what could've been, to what the human race might've created if we hadn't been swallowed up by greed and "that genocidal feeling that beats in every heart," as Koenig sings.

It's a violent sentiment and a sad one. But the song itself is so beautiful that you can almost forget about its meaning; you can almost forget everything. It feels like taking a deep breath in the midst of all the noise and the lights, like stopping to stare at the waving leaves on a tree outside your window, like hearing a strange, low hum poking through the cries and sirens of a busy city.

Despite these moments of tranquility, Father of the Bride is more of a collage than a cohesive whole, and it takes a certain amount of energy to really listen to it and key into its sometimes scattered blend of emotions and sounds. It won't be for everyone, but Father of the Bride is valuable both as documentation of our historical moment and as a work of musical composition.

Existing somewhere in the middle of Californian irreverence and New Yorkers' existential panic, it's sometimes a lot to take in—but of course, those little moments of perfect beauty appear just when you feel you're losing your footing. And sometimes—in this life of teeming crowds and blaring horns and neon signs all competing for attention while the sun grows ever-hotter—that's all we can ask for.

Vampire Weekend - Jerusalem, New York, Berlin (Official Audio) www.youtube.com



Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.


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New Releases

Vampire Weekend Unveils 'Harmony Hall' Video

A green tree python, Jonah Hill, and Ezra Koenig making eggs.

For the past six years, Vampire Weekend has been sleeping like the undead. Now they are awake, alive, and kicking.

Vampire Weekend dropped two new tracks at the end of January: "2021" and "Harmony Hall." Now they've released the music video for "Harmony Hall."

Both tracks are from Vampire Weekend's forthcoming album, Father of The Bride, slated to drop this spring. Lead vocalist Ezra Koenig announced the band would drop six songs from the album preceding its release, two songs per month, for three months.

Vampire Weekend - Harmony Hall (Official Video) youtu.be

Composed of Ezra Koenig (vocals, guitar, piano), Chris Tomson (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Rostam Batmanglij (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals) and Chris Baio (bass, backing vocals), Vampire Weekend dropped their last album, Modern Vampires of the City, in May 2013. The album debuted at number one on Billboard and took home the 2014 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

Rostam Batmanglij left the band in 2016, but Koenig has stated Batmanglij contributed to the new album, along with a bevy of other collaborators. Additionally, the album features guest vocalists for the first time in the band's history.

"Harmony Hall" opens on bluesy-flavored riffs backed by subdued synths flowing into an infectious alt-pop melody. A buff bass line and syncopated percussion infuse the tune with a jangly rhythm.

Koenig's tenor imbues the lyrics with charming intensity, as radiant backing harmonies wash the tune in luminous colors.

The video, directed by Emmett Malloy, features a green tree python gliding by fruit on a counter-top, and then shifts to Koenig hosting a cooking show, demonstrating the proper way to make a pastry. At the end, Jonah Hill makes a cameo appearance, licking batter off a spoon.

"Harmony Hall" courses with stylish harmonic colors and polished energy. Vampire Weekend definitely still has it going on, maybe more than ever.

Follow Vampire Weekend Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.


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