American music is still largely reflective of our social segregation. Exhibit A: the dearth of indie rock bands that aren't white and college educated.
So it should come as welcome news that New York's Vampire Weekend (composed of Columbia University students) have tried mightily to incorporate African music influences into their songs ever since they formed in 2006.
Why, then, do I wince when I hear Ezra Koenig sing in a Jamaican voice that's as phony as Colin Meloy's British-drama-queen bit? I felt the same way when Paul Simon went all world on us on songs like "Late in the Evening."
A lot of tracks on Contra ("White Sky" and "California English" come to mind) sound like reggae, dancehall and ska being forced to fit an indie rock shtick. The album's best songs avoid this approach, including the easygoing, melodic "Taxi Cab."
I'm all for musical integration, but Vampire Weekend just don't groove like Sean Paul.