Matador Records

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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I am far from well-spoken on The New Pornographers, but I always seem to enjoy every album they release. They are the kind of band I like from afar; never devoting much energy toward or checking out live, yet I always like listening to their indie power pop sound. It’s the perfect music for a boost on the treadmill or a morning commute to work. Together follows this pattern and is probably my favorite of the three albums I own. Neko’s “Crash Years” is a song that was made to listen to during the summer and the following track, “Your Hands (Together)” starts with a very similar riff to “War Pigs.”

It’s high time this band stop surprising me, because I’m realizing that I’m becoming less and less a casual fan. I am really excited to see them live for the first time at Lolla this year. Hopefully that will consummate our relationship.

The New Pornographers – Your Hands Together


Kurt Vile – Childish Prodigy [Album Review]

by Woody on October 9, 2009

kurt vile

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 with studied talent and recycled tunes.

It goes on to proclaim that he, by contrast, is the real deal.‚ ‚  So there you go. Might turn some people off, but essentially he’s making a personal case for his own authenticity, which is obviously hard territory in which to debate.

Childish Prodigy was released by Matador on October 6th and represents the second album from Philadelphia guitarist/vocalist Kurt Vile. Kurt is backed by The Violators (2/3 of War on Drugs, the band with whom he used to play).‚ ‚  The album is another in the long line of recent lo fi mid-tempo rock recipes, however this comes with a psychedelic twist.‚  The vocals have a submerged echoing resonance while the melody is drenched in reverb.‚  These characteristics are prominently displayed immediately on the pounding first track, “Hunchback.”‚  The melody is mostly a simplistic three-chord structure and the vocals seem part Jarvis Cocker mixed with the venomous lyrical wit of Paul Westerberg.

At times this album haunts, at times it rocks, but regardless it’s going to sound familiar if you’re a fan of War on Drugs.‚  There are some healthy departures, like the fantastic “Blackberry Song,” which pairs some simple, and yet wonderful, guitar picking with really strong vocals.‚  It’s a track that will quickly make you fan of this guy, even if there’s a trace of pretension in his outward appearance.

Kurt Vile – Hunchback (via StereoGum)


the cave singers

The Cave Singers ’07 debut, Invitation Songs, was a solid one indeed. Pete Quirk’s raspy vocals over acoustic guitars and simple percussion was easy to enjoy, but I felt that the album was the precursor to something better. It seemed to lack that sticky element that would give the album lasting quality – that attribute that forces you to go back again and again.

Welcome Joy was released this month and it’s a big step forward for the Washington folkies.The first half of the album is strong, but it’s at the turn when things really take off. Two of the better songs come at your back to back in “Beach House” and “Hen In The Woods.” Both are wrapped around an effortless guitar riff washed over with Quirk’s vocals. “I Don’t Mind” comes at you later with a driving backbeat punctuated by a little kick just when the song starts dying down.

The Cave Singers are hitting the road with Lightning Dust this fall. In fact, Ashely and Amber Webber of Lightning Dust contributed on Welcome Joy, so I assume they’ll share the stage.

MySpace | Matador Records

The Cave Singers – At The Cut

Video: The Cave Singers – Summer Windows


Sonic Youth – The Eternal [Album Review]

August 18, 2009

Despite Sonic Youths’ endless critical plaudits over the years and their emergence at the time when I began developing a real taste in the alternative, I never gravitated to their music. Let’s be honest. Sonic Youth is an acquired taste and their music, at its most experimental, is difficult to absorb with hooks that take […]

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Avoiding words like stew, husky, moist, and cuddle. An interview with Stephen Malkmus.

January 17, 2009

I am in a fantasy hoops league and currently reside in second place with Kobe holding up my team. Every fantasy hoops aficionado should read Rotoworld, a site for news, rankings, projections and commentary on sports and fantasy leagues.‚  The site is championed by good friend of HearYa, Steve Alexander (aka Doctor A). Doctor A […]

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