In 2008, New York's Vampire Weekend broke ahead of the indie pack by doing something a lot of bands weren't doing: they didn't rely on indie rock guitar hooks and instead, drew from African and Island traditions, fusing a sound that became distinctly their own. Not to mention the center of debates for the ensuing year about cultural appropriation, nods to Paul Simon's 'Graceland' and the decision to wear sweater vests.
Two years later, Vampire Weekend returns with 'Contra,' showing an evolution with their interplay of heavy rhythmic elements and sunny guitars on tracks like the amped up ska of 'Holiday,' 'Cousins' and opener 'Horchata.' They even close with an ethereal ballad, 'I Think UR a Contra,' effectively answering critics' call by making a sophomore record that defies any slumping. They might even gain some new fans in the process.
In a recent Sessions taping in our New York studio, Vampire Weekend talked to us about the meaning behind what a contra is, answering to the onslaught of criticism and where they're most likely to find their influences.