Kurt Vile

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Slacker rock. That’s the label that Kurt Vile was tagged with. Its easy to understand. Vile’s vocals don’t exactly scream out of the speaker. His tunes don’t sonically explode like a Lee Bains track. They just kinda amble into your ears, noodling a way into your psyche. So I’ve built this persona around Kurt that he just lazily walks into the studio in his bathrobe, long hair flowing, without any real plan and a track just kind of winds up being.

Needless to say, that is ridiculous. I found this excellent piece by Steven Hyden in which he outlines Vile’s meticulous approach to be fascinating. It was a brilliant piece of journalism that got me into Vile’s process and made me appreciate his music in a different light.

And I’m here to tell you that b’lieve i’m goin down is Vile’s best album. As Hyden notes on in his piece, the album isn’t built around Vile’s guitar solos. His guitar solos work was the main reason I kept coming back to his work. If you’d told me that Vile was going to release an album that was light on solos, but yet still be favorite; I would have called you crazy.

Individually the songs are fantastic. But its the pacing that really hooks you in. There’s a three song stretch midway through the album. Life Like This is built around a fairly basic piano riff as Vile basically converses with himself. Next up is All In A Daze Work which is just an observational Vile on an acoustic. Whereas a whole album of this would get tiresome, it sounds perfect placed where it is. And lastly, Lost My Head There starts off with piano riff that feels like it was lifted off a Steely Dan album as he sings about how he made the tune. Its brilliant, catchy and funny as hell. These aren’t even my favorite individual songs on the album but I love how they play out in order.

So in conclusion; if Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile want to take turns one-upping each other, I’m OK with that.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Kurt Vile is here

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I came late to the Steve Gunn party. It was a year after Time Off came out that I really starting digging his 2013 effort. Since then, I have played it religiously. Lucky for me, he has a new album coming out on October 7 via the always excellent Paradise of Bachelors. Here’s some scoop on the album.

Steve Gunn’s Way Out Weather is the virtuosic guitarist and songwriter’s career-defining statement to date, an inscrutable, but entirely self-assured masterpiece that completes Gunn’s satisfying transformation into a mature songwriter, singer, and bandleader of subtlety and authority. A heady and elliptical travelogue, the record demonstrates a widescreen evolution featuring a broader instrumental palette, higher production values than ever before and a bigger crew of accomplished musicians to flesh out the full arrangements. This intuitive and inventive band trusted the germinal songs to an instinctual process of spontaneous composition, transposition and improvisation, allowing Gunn to sculpt Way Out Weather as a player, composer and colorist.

Way Out Weather’s predecessor and Gunn’s first full-band album, Time Off, represented the culmination of a steady fifteen-year migration from the frontier fringes of the guitar avant-garde and toward his special style of more traditionally informed (albeit deconstructed) songcraft. Those songs developed from years of woodshedding and performance, offering a linear, local narrative that mapped the contours of Gunn’s Brooklyn neighborhood and a matrix of musical friendships, earning him a broad new following. Way Out Weather, on the other hand, angles for something far more cosmic, dynamic and expansive in sound and sentiment. Gunn’s discursive, mantric guitar style maintains its signature intricacy and mesmeric propulsion. All the while, his vocals are present, commanding and refined, revealing a restrained, but highly nuanced baritone capable of remarkable grace.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

Doesn’t look like Steve is on Twitter. However, Paradise of Bachelors is here.

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Lady Lamb the Beekeeper covering Kurt Vile

by Woody on February 5, 2014

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper put out one of our favorite albums in 2014. So did Kurt Vile. Now as luck would have it, Lady Lamb has covered Kurt Vile’s Girl Called Alex. Check them both out below.

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Kurt Vile, of War On Drugs and previous solo efforts, just released my favorite album from his catalog (I’m sure he’s over the moon in reading this). Smoke Ring For My Halo is cleaner than previous efforts and the album as a whole seems more cohesive. Vile hasn’t radically changed his style, but the subtle changes strike a chord with me. Stripping away some of the haze to clearly hear his guitar and vocals has yielded positive results.

The album contains a blend of rockers and folk-inspired numbers. One of my favorites from the folksy side is “On Tour.” In addition to its easy going-vibe, it contains great lyrics with my favorite lines falling at the two minute mark:

I want to write my whole life down
Write it down and burn it down to the ground
I want to sing at the top of my lungs
For fun, scream annoyingly
cause that’s just me
Being Me, Being Free

Another great verse, a little later on:

I want to beat on the drums so hard
til it bleeds blood
Pull out the heart til it don’t start again

Don’t sleep on the jangly and bouncy “Jesus Fever” and the anthemic “Puppet To The Man.” It’s on these fuller numbers where the more polished production allows the texture of the songs to shine through. Backing band, The Violators, also sound great as they bring Vile’s songs to life.

Kurt Vile – Jesus Fever

Video: Kurt Vile – Jesus Fever

 

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Kurt Vile – Childish Prodigy [Album Review]

October 9, 2009

Everything from the first chord of the first song to the “creative name” of the album to the man’s bio, is all attitude.‚ ‚  Here’s a synopsis from his bio that succinctly depicts what I mean: There’s a bunch of clowns all over the USA, all around the world, cluttering up the rock ‘n’ roll stage […]

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