Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend

Modern Vampires of the City is Vampire Weekend's third album, and it will be released on May 14th, 2013 by XL Recordings.

The album title is inspired by the first line of Junior Reid's song "One Blood": 'Modern vampires of the city hunting blood, blood, bloooooooood.' The photo on the cover was taken in 1966 on one of the smoggiest days in New York history. It was captured by photographer Neal Boenzi for the New York Times.

Ezra and Rostam, the songwriting team behind the band, worked more closely than ever on this album. Most songs bega one of two ways: either with Rostam creating a piece of music that often included drums, bass, and chords and sending this to Ezra to write lyrics and melodies on top of, or with Ezra beginning the song by writing lyrics and melodies, sometimes chords as well, and the two of them sculpting the instrumental setting for the track around those.

In the summer of 2012, the two traveled to LA to collaborate with Rostam's longtime friend, and fellow producer Ariel Rechtshaid. They brought with them writing and recording sessions from New York and Martha's Vineyard. The three began to stride towards realizing the finished album and were later joined by drummer Chris Tomson and bassist Chris Baio. Drums and bass were recorded to analog tape at Vox Studios. Built in the 1930's, it's one of the oldest privately owned studios in Los Angeles. Those parts were then reintegrated with the sessions and further manipulated to create a synthesis of sound and tone, both old and new.

The album has a grandeur and romanticism evocative of the city where it was conceived. Church organs, deep synth bass, booming drums, choirs chanting in Latin are all combined with classic Vampire Weekend joyfulness and spry humor.

MVOTC is the culmination of a trilogy.

The genesis of the song "Step" was a labyrinthine journey through American pop history: it was inspired by a lyric from 90s New Jersey rapper YZ artfully sampled by Bay Area hip-hop legends Souls of Mischief for ademo called "Step to My Girl" from the sessions from their "'93 Til Infinity" album. Their song sampled a Grover Washington Jr. cover of 70s soft-rock band Bread's "Aubrey." Vampire Weekend's song marries melodies from "Aubrey" with their own harmonic and lyrical identity and rhythmic swagger.

Modern Vampires is a bustling city of voices and visions from the death of Henry Hudson to the Orthodox girl falling in love at an uptown falafel shop, from Hannah Hunt tearing up the New York Times on a distant beach to the lethal chandelier of "Everlasting Arms", from the ardent yearning of "Don't Lie" to the harmonized voice of hope in "Young Lion".

Edward Scissorhands. The board game Operation. Sonic Youth. Claudia Schiffer? Plastic monkeys! These are among the pop-culture artifacts that appear in the epilepsy-inducing slideshow video for "Hurricane," the first single from MS MR. Until recently shrouded in anonymity, the atmospheric indie-pop duo from New York City has proven universally intriguing, earning breathless attention from Pitchfork, Forbes, and Perez Hilton alike.

In the trip-hoppy "Hurricane," smoky-voiced Lizzy Plapinger sings, "Welcome to the inner workings of my mind/So dark and foul I can't disguise," while a push-and-pull of echoey strings and staccato percussion (courtesy of the producer stylings of Ms Mr other half Max Hershenow) envelop her voice. Technically, the song, which hit No. 1 on Hype Machine, is about Hurricane Irene, which careened towards Gotham last year. The video? Not so much.

"I see something different every time I watch it," concedes Max. "The video is sort of a cross section of the images we've collected on Tumblr, which we essentially use as an ongoing mood board." If there's one philosophy driving MS MR (pronounced "miss mister") —dabblers in chaos theory who're as goofy as they are thoughtful—it's media-theorist Marshall McLuhan's famous observation that the medium is the message. MS MR are so committed to that sentiment they handpicked each "Hurricane" image themselves.

"We're interested in exploring the nature of mixed media and collage," says Lizzy, "and how music transcends all these various platforms." Chief among them: MS MR's lively—if thoroughly mystifying—Tumblr page, which they unprecedentedly used to debut their second EP, the critically acclaimed Candy Bar Creep Show, song-by-song. (Their first release, Ghost City USA, was a self-released collection of demos.)

The EP, which sets the foundation for MS MR's still-untitled album (out early next spring), references everything from '80s to'90s pop, doo-wop to country. That kitchen-sink aesthetic won the attention of vintage-sound wiz Tom Elmhirst (Adele, Amy Winehouse), who mixed and did some additional production on it at the legendary Electric Lady Studios. "Tom helped us more fully realize the album as we imagined it" says Max. "He responds to music more emotionally and viscerally than anyone I've ever met. It was the perfect match."

The aural Jenga that is MS MR was born of Lizzy and Max's vast inspirations. "We both listen to a lot of different music from all different genres and time periods," says Max. "So we like to approach each song as its own project and experiment with combining unexpected elements."

It's a stroke of serendipity that Lizzy and Max are even making music together. They may giggle uncontrollably and complete each other's thoughts, but these Vassar alums never really knew each other during college. Lizzy was a media-studies major, releasing records under her burgeoning imprint Neon Gold. (She's gone on to release records by artists such as Passion Pit and Ellie Goulding.) Max was an urban-studies major with a concentration in modern dance, and started composing music for his choreographies. They met fleetingly through friends. But really connected after they graduated, when Lizzy needed an unbiased sounding board for her secret project, and Max was looking for new artists to collaborate with.

"There was sort of an element of Internet dating to it," Max says, laughing. "Throw caution to the wind! Send someone an email, hope for the best." He liked what he heard, which only terrified Lizzy more. "I was nervous because I had never sung in front of anyone before, so when he told me he was interested I actually put it off for a few months."

They finally connected three months later in December 2010. To find their footing as collaborators, they recorded a sweeping cover of Patrick Wolf's "Time of My Life" in Max's closet-turned-studio. Curious to see where else the music could take them, they decided to give it another go and try their hand at some original material. This led to the swelling, mercurial tune we know now as "Bones." "It's quite a personal song and definitely set a tone for the band," says Lizzy. "In person, we're quite upbeat and bubbly, but the music is a much more honest space and outlet for us."

Only now, it's become public. MS MR finally unveiled their live personae in March with a rocked-out gig at Brooklyn's respected Glasslands Gallery. "I think people maybe expected two people on stage with a laptop, but we were adamant from the beginning that we would never do that!" says Lizzy. "We wanted the live show to do the recoded tracks justice," continues Max, "so we perform as a band to give it the lushness and energy we aim for while recording." Since their Glasslands show, they've moved on to bigger venues while touring with Marina and the Diamonds, an outing they affectionately refer to as their "training-wheels tour."

"Really," continues Max, "this whole experience has been about discovering undiscovered parts of ourselves."


Aminal is the band that nearly wasn't: tossed together last-minute in the summer of 2011 to open a bill, the founding members (Matt Battle, Matt DeWaters, and Ian Leonard) stepped on stage and improvised. The spontaneous chemistry of the trio congealed into what would later be known as Aminal. On the heels of their conception, the trio cut their first single, “Skipping Stones”, and broke onto the local music scene, maintaining a consistent show schedule in Upstate New York. Within a year, the band entered the studio to record their first EP. It was during these sessions that the band ran into unexpected creative differences, leading to the departure of original guitarist, Ian Leonard; the original EP was shelved, and the band spent the next few months in suspended animation.

Fast-forward to January 2013--after months of experimenting and growing pains--Battle and DeWaters revived the project and resurfaced as a stronger, more eclectic quartet. Their current lineup now stands as Matt Battle (drums, vocals), Kamara Robideau (bass), Chris Potter (guitar, vocals), and Matt Dewaters (guitar, synth, vocals). Intricate dynamic rhythms and melodic synthesizer leads accompanied by soaring harmonies and atmospheric textures imbue Aminal's sound with irresistible pop sensibilities. The group has quickly gained a following, having been asked to share the stage with national acts such as Ra Ra Riot, Static Jacks, Twenty One Pilots, Vampire Weekend, New Politics, MS MR, Yip Deciever, IamDynamite, Such Gold, The Virginmarys, and more.

Currently, the band has settled into “The Aminal House,” the band’s residence and home recording studio in Rochester, New York. Their EP (tentatively titled “Shadows”) is set for an October of 2013 release. Look for big things from this quartet in the coming months.

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