KURT VILE AND THE VIOLATORS
at Russian Recording
Friday July 15
$10 adv / $12 dos
Tickets also available at Landlocked Music and The Buskirk Chumley Box Office.
Kurt Vile - website
Kurt Vile has a way of tying time in knots. You can hear it on his new album Smoke Ring For My Halo from the get-go – the pinwheeling guitars and reaching atmospheres of ‘Baby’s Arms’ are as strange as they are familiar: a demonstration of how Kurt can put worn methods and sounds through himself and end up with something that isn’t emotionally or sonically obvious. Instead we’re left with a record that contains traces of the past but doesn’t waste precious time in the now being reverent.
Once compared to Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty, Psychic TV, and Animal Collective in the same review (for 2009’s Childish Prodigy), Kurt can bring to mind anything from Suicide to Leo Kottke to My Bloody Valentine, Bob Seger, Nick Drake, and Eastern ragas. Still, he pieces together these disparate elements so seamlessly and unpretentiously that such reference points are rendered pointless by the singularity of his sound. Kurt Vile might belong to a long lineage of classic American songwriters, but he’s the only one who’s alive and in his prime today.
This is the fourth time Kurt Vile has put an album’s worth of songs together and stuck a name on it, but in a sense Smoke Ring For My Halo is his first real album – every flinching guitar arpeggio and vocal wander was made to be here, made with this record in mind, to sit alongside another in situ and in sequence. It seems weird saying this given the amount of ground he’s covered already, but Smoke Ring For My Halo is the perfect way into the music Kurt Vile makes. It’s tender and evocative, elusive but companionable, tough in the gut and the arm but swollen in the chest and giddy in the head. It’s a record that is perfect for any given day during whatever season, to satisfy all moods in every possible scenario – be that first thing in the morning or last thing at night; today, tomorrow or five years from now.
In short, it’s real. Kurt Vile isn’t just the loneliest of ten siblings born to parents on the outskirts of Philadelphia, the former forklift truck driver who makes rock band guitar songs in the solitude of his bedroom. Smoke Ring For My Halo brings all of that together, marrying the introspection of the nocturnal stoner with the exploration of a troubadour frontiersman to arrive at a record you know is so much more than the sum of his and its constituent parts because often he sounds like he doesn’t know how he got there himself.
Woods - website
With a title like At Echo Lake, the fifth album from New York’s Woods intimates a modern rock aesthetic fully informed by historical manifestations of teenage along with a concomitant feel for the specifics of time and place. The distance between 2007’s At Rear House and 2010’s At Echo Lake may at first seem only semantic but it more properly represents a move from a kind of informal back porch jam ethos to a fully-committed vision of the infinite possibilities of group playing.
Over the past few years Woods have established themselves as an anomaly in a world of freaks. They were an odd proposition even in the outré company of vocalist/guitarist/label owner Jeremy Earl’s Woodsist roster, perpetually out of time, committed to songsmanship in an age of noise, drone and improvisation, to extended soloing, oblique instrumentals and the usurping use of tapes and F/X in an age of dead-end singer-songwriters. Recent live shows have seen them best confuse the two, playing beautifully-constructed songs torn apart by fuzztone jams and odd electronics.
At Echo Lake feels like a diamond-sharp distillation of the turbulent power of their live shows, in much the same way that The Grateful Dead’s “Dark Star” single amplified and engulfed the planetary aspect of their improvised takes. Some of the material here – the opening “Blood Dries Darker”, the euphoric “Mornin’ Time” – is so lush that lesser brains would’ve succumbed to the appeal of strings and horns but At Echo Lake is more Fifth Dimension than Notorious Byrd Brothers, nowhere more so than on “From The Horn”, a track that is as beautiful in its assault on form as “Eight Miles High” or Swell Maps’ “Midget Submarines”. But despite the instrumental innovation that the album heralds – G. Lucas Cranes’ psychedelic tapework on “Suffering Season”, guest musician Matthew Valentine’s harmonica and modified banjo/sitar on “Time Fading Lines” – At Echo Lake is all about the vocals.
Woods’ secret weapon is the quality of Earl’s voice, osmosing the naive style of Jad Fair, Jonathan Richman and Neil Young while re-thinking it as a discipline and a tradition. Here he is singing at the peak of his powers, in a high soulful style that is bolstered by heavenly arrangements of backing vocals. At Echo Lake feels like the transmission point for teenage garage from the past to the future. Deformed by contemporary experiments, bolstered by magical traditions from the past, it’s the sound of now, right here, At Echo Lake.
-David Keenan/Glasgow/March 2010
When & Where
Spirit of '68 Promotions
Spirit of ’68 Promotions was founded under the notion of bringing the best and brightest artists from across the country to Bloomington. Turning a blind eye to genres or musical prejudices, we do what we can to get as diverse a lineup as possible into the stages and basements of Bloomington. In effect, we bring the music to you because distance and high gas prices shouldn’t be a barrier to hearing great music.