More talk from the judges today, as they get to grips with the debut from Vampire Weekend.
Allison Howe: I absolutely love it, it’s my favourite record of the year. It is a really crap cover, I admit. I love Graceland, and we can’t deny where a lot of this has come from. I think it’s a pop record for a generation that obviously loves them. I’ve seen them at a lot of festivals, kids love them and yet what they do is so steeped in a different era that it shouldn’t work. They’re a bit dull live sometimes, but we’re here to judge a record and for me this is the record of the year.
Mark Radcliffe: I like Vampire Weekend a lot, but it’s not my record of the year. They’ve got that strange combination of being quite preppy, the way they look and the way they sound reminded me a bit of early Talking Heads, but there are these strange kind of African guitar influences in it. I like it very much, it’s a very pretty and well-made record, but the only thing I would say about it is that among the new breed of American bands that are on this shortlist I think you get Vampire Weekend quicker but I think it lacks a dimension. Whereas the Fleet Foxes was one of those records that with repeated listening you start to hear more things in it, which to me the great records have. I think this is a really good record, I don’t think it’s a great record.
Danny: I think this is the one record on the shortlist that’s possible for people to really dislike. I don’t, I really like it. The Graceland thing is possibly a bit of a red herring. They are a new wave band with an African-sounding guitar, filtered through Paul Simon, but when you listen to it you realise what a strange thing it is to do. Mark mentioned Talking Heads, but from the same era and same clubs I can hear Jonathan Richman in it as well.
When I first listened to it I wrote down that I liked the riffs, but they’re almost too small to be riffs, I had to change it to riffette. There’s lots of lovely riffettes in it. I like this record a great deal, I don’t think it’s up to the standards of the Fleet Foxes, but it’s a brilliant and strange little record. I like the fact that it’s coming from nowhere else, I don’t know anybody remotely like them – what scene did they come out of? I can’t imagine. Which of them heard these little CBGBs-type songs and said “we should put some African guitar on these, it’d be great”. Where is that bar? I wanna go there. It’s my second favourite record on this list, although I hate ranking things.
Allan Jones: It was played a lot in the office when it came out, and I enjoyed listening to it, and the Talking Heads thing is interesting. Some of it is as fresh as “Love Goes To Buildings On Fire”.
Tony Wadsworth: There’s a bit of Televison in there as well.
Allan: Yeah, it just shot out of there. But I must say that out of all the records on the shortlist, I kind of graduated to that one as something that I didn’t play as much before but have in time got more and more out of it. It’s a really great record.
Alison: It’s beautifully short, as well.
Danny: Well said, that woman. They whacked the four-minute one on the end so you can go and make the tea.
Allan: That’s one of the things that appealed to me about the Radiohead album.
Alison: It doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Allan: Absolutely not. I thought “Oh God, I’m gonna be here for an eternity”, people shining torches in my face.
Linda Thompson: I was prepared not to like this, I’ve heard them live and they’re four posh boys like The Strokes – very posh and very spoilt – and I thought it had finally happened: these people are too young for me. But I started to listen to it, and now I’m madly in love with it. It amused me that they’re so influence by Paul Simon, who else is these days? It’s so arch, it’s so out there. I’d be very happy for it to win, I think it’s fresh and everything rock ‘n’ roll should be; young, full of energy and “Blake’s Got A New Face” is my favourite song, I just love it. I love the atonal quality of it, it’s like Schoenberg.
Tony: I think it’s great, it’s intelligent pop music which is something we forgot existed. It’s reminiscent of the CBGBs era of 1977. It’s interesting that Linda mentioned posh boys, because posh boys make a lot of the best albums. Some of the biggest bands in the world are inhabited by posh boys. I tended to look for posh boys when I was signing artists.
Alison: Hanging outside Harrow or something…?
Linda: They’re better than the posh boys like Guy Ritchie who pretend not to be posh!
Tony: I think it’s nice, it’s edgy, it’s got great lyrics, it’s clean and shiny. I don’t know whether I’ll listen to it in ten years’ time like I’ll certainly be listening to Elbow in ten years’ time, but it’s a great intelligent pop album and I really enjoyed it.
Danny: Shit cover.
Mark: It’s unforgiveable.
Tony: Yeah, but I bet they thought it was bloody brilliant.
Linda: I’m someone who’s done the shittest covers in the history of music.
Danny: Which would you say was the worst, Linda?
Linda: All of them. They’re the worst I’ve ever seen.
Tony: Sunnyvista was possibly one of the worst.
Danny: Oh, it was terrible.
Tony: I think the reason behind this was that they didn’t want to put the name of the band on the cover.
Danny: But they’ve got two lovely words in their name! Vampire and weekend!