Kurt Vile


(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Constant Hitmaker (2008), 5.5/10
God Is Saying This To You (2009), 5/10
Childish Prodigy (2009), 6/10
Smoke Ring for My Halo (2011), 6.5/10
Wakin on a Pretty Daze (Matador, 2013), 6/10
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On his own, Kurt Vile of Philadelphia's War On Drugs performed amateurish garage-rock on Constant Hitmaker (Gulcher, 2008), that contains the catchy Freeway, evolving towards a more philosophical (and acoustic) style on God Is Saying This To You (2009), but still pervaded by garage fuzz and highlighted by a laconic albeit intense fingerpicking style.

Childish Prodigy (Matador, 2009) contains the frenzied seven-minute shuffle Freak Train, the love ballad Blackberry, the acid folk lullaby Overnite Religion, the bluesy dirge Inside Lookin' Out as well as the raw boogie Hunchback, spanning a broad range of styles. Vile often sounds like he is impersonating Alan Vega or Lou Reed, and his band owes quite a bit to the new wave of the late 1970s.

The EP Square Shells (Matador, 2010) split his persona between the "acid" wordless visionary of Losing Momentum or The Finder and the verbose hobo-like storyteller of Hey Now I'm Movin.

The hobo won out. Smoke Ring for My Halo (2011) was his most complex collection yet, and the most professional-sounding, from the straightforward power-pop singles Jesus Fever and In My Time (neither particularly catchy nor particularly creative) to the atmospheric shuffle Smoke Ring For My Halo, and from an oneiric ballad like Ghost Town, somewhere in between Bob Dylan and the Velvet Underground, to the other highlight, Puppet to the Man, a Lou Reed-ian rant and slow boogie that, mildly accelerated, could make the Rolling Stones jealous. Vile's lyrical acumen is the only support for the spartan folk lullabies Baby's Arms and Peeping Tomboy, for the solemn meditation of Society Is My Friend and for the proud litany of Runner Ups. Ghost Town and Puppet to the Man, instead, have a magic cinematic quality that justifies the hype.

The EP So Outta Reach (Matador, 2011) adds six more recordings from the same sessions, notably The Creature.

Wakin on a Pretty Daze (Matador, 2013) is inferior to the two albums that preceded it, despite a generally more mature and confident tone. Everything is arranged and performed with grace and competence, but also everything sounds derivative: the nine-minute opener Wakin on a Pretty Day is a Lou Reed-ian epic, KV Crimes borrows the most abrasive Neil Young jams, Pure Pain mimicks Led Zeppelin's hard folk, and Snowflakes Are Dancing is a fatalistic Bob Dylan-ian rant. Too Hard is perhaps the most original piece here, a hazy, dreamy eight-minute elegy that harks back to the era of the Pearls Before Swine. The sheer size of the songs has grown because Vile and his band indulge in lazy transcendent bridges that evoke a calmer, simpler, sober version of Built To Spill.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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