Bishop Allen, MT. ST. Helens, Vietnam Band, Singsing & Marmar

Poor Bishop Allen. The band was Vampire Weekend before Vampire Weekend was Vampire Weekend. But though both acts possess the same musical chops, the same intellectualized wordplay and the same ear for white people-pleasing ditties, Bishop Allen never caught fire (or received a subsequent backlash) like its fellow New York-based, Ivy League-educated indie rockers.

Still, it's hard to feel too bad for the Harvard grads. Bishop Allen's songs have been featured in primetime commercials, placed in the Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist soundtrack and, actually, member Justin Rice is a well-known actor in independent movies. Plus, the band's brand new album, Grrr..., isn't half bad! Coming off the release of 2007's hummable but sometimes overly sincere The Broken String, the new work tries hard to be jauntier and less self-conscious. For the most part it succeeds, with rousing choruses and whimsical stories—not to mention inspired flourishes on a plethora of string and percussion instruments. Hopefully the album will become widely popular, and as was the case with Vampire Weekend, music critics will unleash an avalanche of reactionary criticism. It's the least we could do.


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