There’s a distinct chance that we’re bending the rules here at Forgotten Favorite—okay, rule given that our one and only guideline is that songs be at least ten years old—but we’re close at the very worst and, damn the consequences, this is too sadly serendipitous.
As I mentioned over at our studio’s web journal, this morning, I received the sad news of the passing of a friend. Not a person, mind you, but a record store. Not a record store, mind you, but what may well be the best records store in the world.
Other Music—bastion of independent music and refuge for its fans—will be closing its doors June 25th after more than 20 years of selling records in New York City. Rents rise, cities grow and shift, and the very thing I’m using right now to share words + thoughts + sounds—the internet—has changed much of the world for better and worse. That change has rendered most brick-and-mortar record stores relatively insignificant and useless to most, and I get that, but it still makes me very sad to know that such an institution will be shuttering for good soon. Through its email newsletters (one of the early ones, really), and its knowledgable, enthusiastic staff, I discovered countless bands, many of whom I count among my favorites to this day.
…some of the catchiest, literate pop music that we’ve come across in ages. – Other Music 2007 review of Vampire Weekend
One such band—NYC’s Vampire Weekend—was championed early on by the store, who sang their praises and even held an early in-store performance. Truth be told, I 100% hated Vampire Weekend when I first heard them. I simply did not get it. They struck me as overly snarky, indie twee and came off as clever for the sake of clever with their lyrics and genre-borrowing. At some point, I came around, but I was very much their anti-champion early on and—in my mind—it was a strike against the to-date music-wise Other that they liked these schmucks so much.
Ten years later (roughly?), I admit defeat, Other Music—you were right, I was wrong. Vampire Weekend’s most recent full-length—Modern Vampires of the City—was one of my favorite records of 2013 and won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.
Years earlier, the band gave out a blue CD-R with their three earliest songs at shows. The disk—which popped up in iTunes as Vampire Weekend: Blue CD-R when you inserted it—included the early hit “A-Punk” (which plays immediately in my car every time I accidentally have Blue Tooth on and it starts in on the alphabetized list of songs), “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” (which I always thought was WAY over the top in terms of kitsch sound), and “Oxford Comma”, below. The latter did appeal to me early on as I am an Oxford comma fan…and it’s an undeniably good song.
You can still access Other Music’s newsletter archive, where they wrote in 2007 of VW’s CD-R-turned-EP:
“What really makes Vampire Weekend stand out is their effortless fusion of sounds which, when all put together, results in some of the catchiest, literate pop music that we’ve come across in ages.”
Shows what I know. And fare thee well, Other Music. You will be sorely missed.
Bonus track—the original, string-heavy version of “Campus.”