Recently, I received a message from a pal who’s living in yonder Blighty, saying “You should definitely listen to Rostam. He was in Vampire Weekend and I really think you’d like his solo stuff”. Said pal knows me inside out and is more highly attuned to what’s happening in music than anyone I’ve ever met. My guard rose slightly when she mentioned his association with the Columbia college-born afro-pop indie band as I cast my mind back to October of last year. I arrived late to a cramped, jumped-up shed in Shoreditch to be met with a VW alumnus crooning some Depeche Mode misery (minus the edginess) whilst surrounded by lifeless, head-bobbing, scaldy-pint-holding musos. That was Baoi (VW bassist Chris Baio), that gig was terrible.
Rostam Batmanglij, be still be beating tabla, is a different kettle of fish. I didn’t know it was possible to fancy a conglomerate of sparsely-filled music platform profiles, but thanks to Rostam, now I know. Between Spotify, Youtube and SoundCloud there’s just enough of Batmanglij’s work to confirm you’ve hit on a beautiful little hidden gem. Ebbing out over the last number of years via collaborations with rakes of cool kids (Jenny Lewis, Wavves, Charli XCX and special attention for the banger he wrote “Warm Blood” from Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2015 effort Emotion) and his own solo work, Rostam creates consistently accessible, thoughtful, spacious pop, crammed with integrity and influences from further afield.
He’s a multi-instrumentalist with a voice not dissimilar to Koenig, if not a little more absent. Responsible for producing the three Vampire Weekend albums, Rostam announced on twitter in January that he was leaving the band to focus on his own projects. If tracks like EOS and Water are demonstrative of what’s to come, the move is to be welcomed.
Weekend won renown for staying away from well-worn tracks of the indie music landscape. Afrobeat influences, dabbles in baroque and ethnic music vibes, wackjob lyrics and a refusal to stick to template structures set them apart. Rostam’s work is embodying everything that was interesting about them.
EOS opens with an airy yet full counterpoint between Rostam’s vocal and choral bursts. The track goes on in fugues to give anthemic moments of chant and quiets of ambient intimacy (a range not dissimilar to that of I Think Ur A Contra).
Wood sees Rostam whip out the sitars and tablas and work with that worldly vibe with which VW won our hearts. A slow bassy plucked pulse on the sitar provides a canvass for crescendos of woody bollywood string comments and alberti basses, tinny percussions and bell jingles. Later Batmanglij’s vocals haze in and out dreamily and it’s over as easily and gorgeous as it began.
Also, I’ve learned he’s queer, which is great. Knowing this and of his co-writer cred on Diplomat’s Son, the mysterious lyrics “That night I smoked a joint with my best friend, we found ourselves in bed. When I woke up he was gone.” are now rendered a little more clear. Those youthful 2010 hours spent pining, hoping for a cryptically-queer Koenig were apparently misdirected. Happily, I’ve reset my gaze for this adorable talent, and am looking forward to seeing what he works on next.
Let me relay what was said to me by that dear pal: You should definitely listen to Rostam.
Broad City //
As hundreds of huns watch The Notebook and aspire for such a romance, I watch Broad City and aspire for such a friendship. The series follows two besties (who seem to be polar opposite, but make a super team) Illana + Abbi on their daily adventures around New York City. It’s a mess. It’s fucked up. It’s loads of fun and it’s written by the protagonists and co-produced by queen of comedy Amy Poelher. Frankly I don’t know how everyone is not already in love with this series.
Season 3 started Feb17th on Comedy Central. Yas Kween! Yas Kwaayne!
Sing Street //
Well this film made me want to be back in school again – a powerful thing indeed. This time around, after forming a band, I would strut through the corridors with new confidence, back-sass teachers, stand up to the bullies and make girls fall in love with me. And most importantly not play covers! Extra points for the film for having the catchiest soundtrack of all films, ever.
On general release in Ireland March 17th.
Risteárd Ó Domhnaill’s new (partly crowd-funded) documentary ATLANTIC recently had its world premiere at The Dublin International Film Festival. Narrated by Brendan Glesson, the doc brings you on a journey around the Atlantic focusing on three coasts: Ireland, Newfoundland and Norway. It examines the impact fishing and oil has on the area and community. By looking at the decisions these governments have made, the film hopes to show what the three states can learn from each other. One can’t help come away thinking that Ireland has the most to learn…if we pay attention.
Never have I hankered to master an instrument as much as when I heard the gorgeous sounds made by the bouzouki-slinging Anna-Mieke at a gig programmed by Homebeat in the RHA. It was a night of firsts for me, with Talos unexpectedly blowing my mind and Forrests exceeding all my expectations. Mieke’s set was the most low key of them all. Even with a wayward door repeatedly opening, allowing the noise of the neighbouring DJs to flood in (sorry Nialler) and eclipse the gentle acoustics, the crowd remained captivated throughout despite strained ears. Her lyrics are dark and her voice is rich. Those with a propensity towards melancholy will be into this.
Bolder is a blog which celebrates fabulous humans over the age of 70, doing wonderful and inspiring things. The vast plethora of profiles include professors, designers, food writers, former fire eaters turned polo coaches, quilt designers, lawyers, the man behind Glastonbury Festival and a woman named Madame Duckstein (which is just intriguing in itself). The purpose of Bolder is to dissolve our misconceptions around ageing and to show that we can be just as interesting and adventurous, if not more so as we age (see Keith Richards and Hilary Clinton).
How to Do a Rainbow Kick with St. Vincent //
This Lower East Side store is one part boutique, one part community hangout and one part flower power. Inside, you’ll find what is essentially a collation of the owner, Tennessee Thomas’ personal views and favourite things – a TV with the words “Read Instead” stuck on it, vintage copies of classics such as Lolita, oldschool Gloria Steinem-esque eyewear and some resident Babezons to boot. Amongst the 60s regalia, hangs an eclectic mix of retro inspired designers including Samantha Pleet, Orla Kiely and The Deep End Club’s own collection, modelled by her pal Alexa Chung – handy that eh? When Thomas isn’t selling her wares, she’s holding activism events on reproductive rights and climate change, or hosting mini-gigs for her musicians mates such as Father John Misty. Until somewhere like this opens in Dublin, we’ll just have to settle for their Instagram.