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The Casbah,

Sunday, December 2, 8:30 p.m.

619-232-4355. $12.

In October, New Yorker magazine published "A Paler Shade of White: How Indie Rock Lost Its Soul," an article by Sasha Frere-Jones in which the always-provocative music critic argues that indie sounds lifeless because it has turned its back on the African American influences that made rock 'n' roll great. Frere-Jones raises some very interesting issues and neglects to mention a lot of others, but I won't go into all that here. Let me just say that there are a number of new indie acts that are quite explicit in their intention to pay tribute to (or, if you prefer, steal from) black music. One that is getting a lot of attention lately is Vampire Weekend, and it is probably not what Frere-Jones had in mind.

Despite the Goth name, Vampire Weekend is a very sunny-sounding young band made up of recent grads from Columbia University. Guitarist Ezra Koenig sings about East Coast beach resorts and punctuation (see "Oxford Comma," the song that will ensure Vampire Weekend's place as the favorite artist of copy editors everywhere). Koenig and his bandmates are usually seen in preppy attire, and on the cover of their recent single "Mansard Roof," they can be seen relaxing on a yacht. How WASP can you get? But Vampire Weekend spices its melodic indie pop with Caribbean calypso and bubbly African pop. No doubt an expert on that stuff would find Vampire Weekend a bunch of dilettantes, but the music sounds pretty good to me. It does not, however, sound like the R&B or the hip-hop that Frere-Jones finds lacking in indie rock. Does that mean it has no soul?

VAMPIRE WEEKEND, The Casbah,
Sunday, December 2, 8:30 p.m.
619-232-4355. $12.

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