AnamanaWeekend sizes up the Kings of Chiptune against Oxford-Garbed, East-Coast Paul Simonites.
WRITER’S NOTE: This post assumes pre-existing knowledge of the conspiracy that Vampire Weekend and Anamanaguchi are acting together to produce one colossal partnership/split EP/album/mashup. This conspiracy may or may not exist solely in the writer’s head.
Vampire Weekend and Anamanaguchi have been at it for years. The artwork for 2010’s My Skateboard Will Go One single sparked the recently fueled controversy when Anamanaguchi slyly imported the art from Vampire Weekend’s Contra and dropped a pair of 8-bit shades over Ann Kirsten Kennis face:
What is more is Vampire Weekend’s own Ezra Koenig has admitted that the title Contra reminds him of the original NES video game of the same name, also an influence over Anamanaguchi.
While the conspiracy seems heavily weighed against Anamanaguchi and their desire to ride Vampire Weekend’s wave, do not forget that Vampire Weekend conveniently pushed back the release of Modern Vampires of the City to May 14th, the same release date as Anamanaguchi’s Endless Fantasy.
Extremities aside, both bands are known for their quirky and unique take on the pop-rock/indie genre. And sharing a release date seemed cause for a review of both albums… side-by-side…
Without further adieu, the dual-review:
Modern Vampires of the City
- Obvious Bicycle holds great potential for a car/coffee commercial with its light organic textures and Ezra’s soft, sweeping vocals.
- Unbelievers brings the summer fun with Beach Boys style organ, a playful melody, and a driving kick.
- Step garners a slow and steady (yet oddly familiar) tune to the likeness of Pachelbel Canon partnered with harpsichord, an airy choir, and voice modulation.
- Diane Young shakes off the slow-mo as the band moves into breakneck speed with chaotic drum patterns, George-Michael-esque breaks, and massive voice modulation.
- Don’t Lie is a dampened and distorted reminder that time is always looming overhead…
- Hannah Hunt‘s peaceful pace, twinkling piano, and delicate slide guitar is perfect for early mornings, rainy days, and dwindling twilight.
- Everlasting Arms is a head bobbing groove heavy on strings, drums, and bass.
- Finger Back brings the sparkling melody of Bambi’s “Little April Shower” to the pop-rock limelight while sprinkling in a little Devendra Banhart “Shabop Shalom” spoken-word here and there.
- Worship You is an upbeat romp that challenges quick-lipped, Micro Machines Man, John Moschitta, Jr. Nobody could sing this “better than Ezra”… see what I did there?
- Ya Hey blends high-pitched, Anamanaguchi-like, modulated vocal chirps into another Vampire Weekend chill track.
- Hudson is Vampire Weekend’s first trek into darkness (I’m full of these puns!). Like Tom Waits at his best, Hudson tip-toes in the shadows and teases the underbelly of hell.
- Young Lion, with its plucked double-bass, ends the album with the feeling that it has been lifted from Jim Guthrie’s Sword & Sworcery LP [OST].
- Endless Fantasy is a dance epic wrapped around a catchy hook, setting the tone for the record and saying “buckle up for this endless fantasy…”
- Japan Air welcomes the cute vocals of m33sh over a track more suited for a Scott Pilgrim fight scene!
- Echobo… more like Echo the Dolphin Blasts Off to Space and Joins the Star Fox Crew theme!
- Planet sends your heart soaring to new heights in this ’80s, John-Hughes-esque, victory credit roll track.
- Viridian Genesis could very well exist as Peter Pan’s Lost Boy’s Neverland theme, taking Eimear O’Donovan’s vocals and chopping them up with likeness to Pogo and Skrillex.
- John Hughes drives Anamanaguchi’s pop punk influence home!
- Prom Night is the stand-out track of Endless Fantasy, opening the ears of the masses to the voice of Bianca Raquel, Beyoncé’s newest competition…
- Interlude (Gymnopedie No. 1)… ahhh… relax to this spacey track fit for NES RPG dialog. (EDIT: Gymnopédies originated from French composer Erik Satie, as I was graciously informed by Vampire Weekend singer Erza Koenig)
- Akira won’t feel like anything new from Anamanaguchi… untill the massive key change at the chorus followed by the 2nd verse’s brooding pre-verse!
- SPF 420 is to Airbrushed as Michelangelo is to Leonardo: the quirky, party animal that feels so familiar yet so incredibly bodacious!!!
- Interlude (Total Tea Time) might as well be the theme for Sonic 5’s bonus stage…
- Meow is the Internet. With cat “meow” samples and a massive ball of chaos dropped post-bridge, this song deserves a music video… oh wait!
- Canal Paradise welcomes you to the jungle with this Arena-Rock Chiptune turned flute-driven Martin Page influenced jam session.
- Snow Angels picks up where Planet left off with a mild-groove on the back-half of the album.
- In The Basement could fit as the 2146 Brady Bunch theme song with a mindful and heart-warming progression.
- U n ME n Infinity Shred. This track comfortably fits inside of the chiptune brethren’s glorious EP 001 (Gnar Dream)
- Space Wax America doesn’t push the album much further in terms of flare; however, the driving double-bass after the bridge is a force to reckoned with.
- EVERYTHING EXPLODES, especially after colorful, arpeggio filled breaks!
- Interlude (STILL SPLODIN THO) thanks the player for listening to and conquering this album! But wait… there’s more…
- Pastel Flags on a jet-ski across a digital sea against an 8-bit sunset.
- Bosozoku GF gives us a brief glimpse of an Anamanaguchi sans NES, featuring delayed guitar flurries and other moody electronics… but not for too long… still plenty of NES stylings to be had!
- (T-T)b is just an awesome thank you from Anamanaguchi with a message of hope! Get fired up on the dream!!!!!
Anamanaguchi’s Endless Fantasy immerses the listener in the joy of completing any and all 8/16-bit video games over and over and over, Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City slows the pace from their usual quirky surf antics. Modern Vampires of the City is an album of subtleties that grow on listener while Endless Fantasy is very nonchalant about what it has to offer. While these albums compliment each other very well, new listeners may be better served starting with Vampire Weekend’s Contra and Anamanaguchi’s “Airbrushed.”
Modern Vampires of the City
iTunes | Amazon MP3
iTunes | Amazon MP3
Kyle Starr is the writer of TheStarrList.com and The State of Gaming. Find Kyle on Twitter at @_kylestarr.