Philly singer-songwriter Kurt Vile is an interesting anomaly. On the one hand, he's totally at home in the recent wave of no-fi eardrum-abusers. He records all his stuff at home and seemingly through a couple of layers of blankets. On the other hand, he's perfectly capable of cranking out gorgeous windows-down car-radio jams.
Over the past two years, Vile has released three solo albums, a steady stream of 7-inch singles, and an EP with his band the Violators, and he's punching the clock as the lead guitarist for The War on Drugs. To make matters more daunting, his sound and mood shift drastically from release to release (and sometimes from song to song). There's Kurt Vile the hazy, bedroom pop auteur; Kurt Vile donning a Tom Petty disguise; Kurt Vile donning his avant-garde soundscape hat.
With Childish Prodigy, his debut for indie-juggernaut Matador, Kurt Vile stretches and pulls the “lo-fi” tag into interesting new shapes, The album is full of Vile's scattershot personalities, but front and center is a tough, full-bodied rock sound that he's only hinted at in his past work. Here he creates dense layers of texture, lo-fidelity only in the sense that the sounds refuse easy pop categorization, echoing and blending endlessly, blurring the lines between his reverb-soaked vocals and the intricate web of keys, guitars, trumpets, and clattering percussion buzzing and twitching underneath them.
One gets the sense that Vile is a prolific songwriter, able to knock out a bunch of tracks in one sitting. He certainly has the talent and ability to churn out incredible tunes, and his music ambles dreamily along a perfect midway point between weird and the familiar.
His show at the Iron Horse at 10PM on Thursday 11/19 with Kurt (Feathers) Weisman promises to be one for the ages. We've told you so.