Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig: “Growing up in the suburbs doesn’t preclude you from making exciting music”

The singer and guitarist chooses his favourite records

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A record which said it’s OK to be suburban
Descendents – Milo Goes To College (1982)

The Descendents don’t have a political agenda or the sense of humour of a band like the Ramones. They’re straight-up suburban punk. They’re clearly not from the gutter, but they still have this energy and anger which comes from a different place. Just because you grew up in the suburbs, doesn’t have to preclude you from making exciting and important music.

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A record everyone liked but I didn’t
Sublime – Sublime (1996)

In America, everyone loved this by [ska rock group] Sublime. It transcended any divisions of music listening. It came out at a time when I was listening to bands that had similar influences to Sublime, so I thought they were like a cheesy version of the Jamaican music I loved. But recently, I bought that album. In high school I felt the need to distance myself from Sublime, but now, I’m ready to embrace it.

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My favourite record by a contemporary
The Walkmen – Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone (2002)

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They’re not peers, they’re older, but when I came to New York to college I interned at the studio they used to run in Harlem. This first LP came out before I went to college, and it had such a distinct, reverby, warm sound. I love every song. It’s the band I’ve paid most in my life to go see. This LP is one of the best things to come out of New York in 10 years.

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A record I play all the time on tour
Regina Spektor – Begin To Hope (2006)

Lately, I’ve gotten really into her. I know a lot of people who like her, but it tends to be girls and…I’m not one to reinforce gender stereotypes, and I think it’s important to listen to female singer-songwriters next to your Slayer and Descendents. Begin To Hope has had some big pop hits, like “Fidelity”. I know people who can’t get down with the lyrics, and she does quirky things with her voice. But it’s a great album.

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.

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