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This two-time, Grammy nominated, alternative rock band has been very successful in both the US and UK due to their unique mixture of punk rock and African world music.

Vampire Weekend is an American rock band from New York City that formed in 2006.  The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Ezra Koenig, guitarist/keyboardist and backing vocalist Rostam Batmanglij. drummer and percussionist Chris Tomson and bassist and backing vocalist Chris Baio.  The band released its first album, “Vampire Weekend,” in 2008 which included the singles “Mansard Roof,” “A-Punk,” “Oxford Comma,” “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” and “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance.”  The band’s second album, “Contra,” was released in 2010.  Their third studio album, “Modern Vampires of the City,” was released on May 14, 2013.

The members of the band met while they were enrolled at Columbia University in the city of New York where they started out with a rap collaboration between Koenig and Tomson.  They bonded over a shared love of punk rock and African music.  At the time, Koenig was touring with “The Dirty Projectors,” during a period of experimentation with African music which inspired “Vampire Weekend” to incorporate world sounds into their earliest work.  The band chose the name “Vampire Weekend” from the title of a short film project that Koenig worked on during the summer between freshman and sophomore years in college.  While home for the summer, Koenig watched a 1980s vampire film and was inspired to make a Northeastern version of the film.  Koenig abandon the project after two days.  The band began playing shows around Columbia University, starting with a battle of the bands at Lerner Hall.  After graduating from college, the band self-produced their first album while simultaneously working full-time jobs, Tomson as a music archivist and Koenig as a middle school English teacher.

In 2007, Vampire Weekend’s song “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” was ranked 67th on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Best Songs of the Year.”  In November 2007, they toured the UK with “The Shins.”  Much of the band’s success came from lots of blog hype and internet buzz.  They were declared “The Years Best New Band” by Spin magazine in their March 2008 issue and were the first band to be shot for the cover of the magazine before releasing their debut album.  Four songs from the band’s first album also made the Triple J Hottest 100 in 2008.  All of their internet hype did have some backlash, as critics reacted against a perceived image of Vampire Weekend as privileged, upper-class, Ivy League graduates stealing from foreign musicians.  One critic went so far as to call Vampire Weekend “the whitest band in the world,” to which they took exception, given their Ukrainian, Persian, Italian and Hungarian heritages.  Koenig responded in a November 2009 interview by saying “nobody in our band is a WASP.”  Furthermore, the backlash involving their social backgrounds was largely unfounded, as Koenig explained in the interview that the band members got into Columbia on scholarship and used student loans.  Koenig himself was still paying off student loans in 2009.

The bands first album, “Vampire Weekend,” was released on January 29, 2008.  The album was a success in the US and the UK peaking at number 15 on the UK Albums Chart and number 17 on the Billboard 200.  Four singles were released from the album, “A-Punk” peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Modern rock chart and number 55 on the UK Singles Chart, “Oxford Comma” peaked at number 38 in the UK.  “A-Punk” was ranked 4th on the Rolling Stone’s Readers’ Rock List: Best Songs of 2008.

The band’s second album, “Contra,” was released on January 11, 2010 in the UK and the following day in the US.  On January 12, 2010, “Horchata” was released as a free download on the band’s website.  The album’s first single, “Cousins,” was released on November 17, 2009.  “Contra” was the band’s first album to debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200.  “Contra” was nominated for a Grammy for “Best Alternative Music Album,” but lost to “The Black Key’s” album, “Brother.”

“Modern Vampires of the City” was released in May 2013 and was written and recorded in various locations including SlowDeath Studios in New York, Echo Park “Back House” in Los Angeles, Vox Recording Studios in Hollywood, Rostam Batmanglij’s apartment and a guest house in Martha’s Vineyard.  The album was co-produced by Batmanglij’s and Ariel Rechtshaid.  After Batmanglij produced the first two albums himself, this marked the first time the band worked with an outside producer.

In an interview for the February 2013 edition of Q magazine, Koenig described the upcoming album as “darker and more organic” and “very much the last of a trilogy.”  The album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts.  This marked the second time the band had achieved number one on the album charts and the first time an independent rock band has entered at number one with two consecutive releases.  “Modern Vampires of the City” also shattered their previous record for first week vinyl sales, moving nearly 10,000 units on vinyl alone and debuting at number one on the Soundscan Vinyl Charts.  Additionally, the band charted to number one on the Indie, Alternative, Digital and the top 200.  “Modern Vampires of the City” was nominated  for a Grammy for “Best Alternative Music Album.”

“Vampire Weekend” has continually released popular and critically acclaimed albums.  With two Grammy nominations for their last two albums, critics and fans seem to agree that they like the musical direction that “Vampire Weekend” is heading.  Check out their biggest hits below and see why this band has been nominated for two Grammys.

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