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KURT VILE

Kurt Vile

Childish Prodigy - 10th Anniversary Edition

    Reissued with the original 7” for the first time since its original pressing, and printed on coloured vinyl for the first time ever, Kurt Vile’s Matador debut Childish Prodigy is back this October.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Coloured vinyl LP and 7".
    LP on light blue vinyl, 7” on purple.

    Travel can inspire in surprising ways: Kurt Vile discovered as much making his first record in three years, the eclectic and electrifying Bottle It In, which he recorded at various studios around the country over two very busy years, during sessions that usually punctuated the ends of long tours or family road trips.

    Every song, whether it’s a concise and catchy pop composition or a sprawling guitar epic, becomes a journey unto itself, taking unexpected detours, circuitous melodic avenues, or open-highway solos. If Vile has become something of a rock guitar god—a mantle he would dismiss out of humility but also out of a desire to keep getting better, to continue absorbing new music, new sounds, new ideas—it’s due to his precise, witty playing style, which turns every riff and rhythm into points on a map and takes the scenic route from one to the next.

    Using past albums as points of departure, Bottle It In heads off in new directions, pushing at the edges of the map into unexplored territory: Here be monster jams. These songs show an artist who is still evolving and growing: a songwriter who, like his hero John Prine, can make you laugh and break your heart, often in the same line, as well as a vocalist who essentially rewrites those songs whenever he sings them in his wise, laconic jive-talkin’ drawl. He revels in the minutiae of the music— not simply incorporating new instruments but emphasizing how they interact with his guitar and voice, how the glockenspiel evokes cirrocumulus clouds on “Hysteria,” how Kim Gordon’s “acoustic guitar distortion” (her term) engulfs everything at the end of “Mutinies,” how the banjo curls around his guitar lines and backing vocals from Lucius to lend a high-lonesome aura to “Come Again.”

    These journeys took Vile more than two years to navigate, during which time he toured behind his breakout 2015 album b’lieve I’m goin’ down, recorded a duets album with Australian singer-songwriter-guitarist Courtney Barnett, opened for Neil Young in front of 90,000 people in Quebec, famously became a clue on Jeopardy, hung out with friends, took vacations with his wife and daughters. “I’ve been bouncing around a lot and recording all over. My family would meet me in the middle of America, and we’d go on a road trip somewhere. I would record in between all that stuff.”

    As Vile prepares for another round of lengthy tours and countless shows, these songs should prove good company, reminders of the love and responsibility he has toward those he leaves at home and those
he meets along the way. That makes the sentiments resonate more strongly and lends Bottle It In an emotional weight. “It’s like that moment on the airplane,” Vile says, “when you’re on your way somewhere and you have that burst of panic. When you’re terrified of dying, that’s when you want people to know you love them.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Andy says: Everything we love about KV in one superb LP. More dynamic than his last outing and the most beautifully produced of all his albums, Bottle It In also features a cover of Charlie Rich's Rollin With The Flow: a massive, classic, country-pop beaut, which is possibly the prettiest thing he's ever committed to tape.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xDinked Edition LP Info: DINKED STORES EXCLUSIVE:
    Orange/Yellow Splatter Vinyl
    Die-Cut Sleeve
    Custom Rounded Corners
    Ltd to 800 numbered copies to Dinked Shops only.

    2xLP Info: Standard black vinyl.

    A conversation between friends, documented in raw, unvarnished song form, brimming with personal history, crackling with energy and shot through with humour - this is the collaborative album of Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. Two of the most acclaimed and gifted song writers of our generation “Lotta Sea Lice” also sees them roping in friends such as Dirty Three, Stella from Warpaint and Mick Harvey to create a body of work that sounds organic & candid.

    The shared chemistry is immediately apparent in the breathtaking jam of opener and first single “Over Everything”, with dovetailing vocal lines and intricate, shimmering guitar stylings from the pair. The lyrics play out as a rambling dialogue as they compare notes about song-writing and inspiration – it was the first song written for this project, and comes accompanied by a beautiful black and white video from Australian director Danny Cohen which features Courtney and Kurt swapping lines over series of jaw dropping backdrops in rural Victoria and New Jersey as well as Melbourne and Philadelphia. It’s deceptively simple but incredibly effective.

    Other tracks include the bluesy “Let it Go”, which itself was inspired by texts and emails between the duo, and the drop dead gorgeous ‘Continental Breakfast”, which showcases a more melodic side as the two harmonise over finger-picked acoustic guitars.

    There are even more surprises in store, however, when the pair tackle each other’s tracks, with Vile delivering a delicious, souped-up version of “Outta the Woodwork” backed by Barnett herself, and Barnett taking on Vile’s “Peepin’ Tomboy” completely solo, to spine tingling results. The overall effect is that of Barnett and Vile throwing open the doors to their house to listeners - this is certainly Courtney and Kurt’s party alright, but this time, everyone is invited.

    'b’lieve i'm goin down…' is Vile’s sixth album, and shows Kurt both deeply introspective and briskly self-assured. As longtime fan Kim Gordon wrote in her bio for the album: “Kurt does his own myth-making; a boy/man with an old soul voice in the age of digital everything becoming something else, which is why this focused, brilliantly clear and seemingly candid record is a breath of fresh air.

    Recorded and mixed in a number of locations, including Los Angeles and Joshua tree, b’lieve i'm goin down… is a handshake across the country, east to west coast, thru the dustbowl history (“valley of ashes”) of woody honest strait forward talk Guthrie, and a cali canyon dead still nite floating in a nearly waterless landscape. The record is all air, weightless, bodyless, but grounded in convincing authenticity, in the best version of a singer songwriter upcycling.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Andy says: With a late night/early hours ruminative glow, KV brings more songs from his couch, and his most mellow, considered collection so far.

    Five and a half minutes into ‘Was All Talk’, the third track off his new album Wakin On A Pretty Daze, Kurt Vile murmurs in his beatific, laconic burr, “Makin’ music is easy / Watch me”. If that sounds like an empty boast it’s likely you’ve just not listened to enough of Vile’s music yet, as the way Kurt’s songs fall into place suggests that his art is entirely and convincingly effortless. That these songs zero in on a hazy perfection with such laser-guided precision shows that behind this veneer of lackadaisical creativity, beavers a songwriter toiling hard to make music so beguilingly laid-back.

    Kurt Vile (his real name) is one of ten children, born in 1980 and raised in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. As a teenager, his bluegrass-lovin’ father gifted him a banjo, when what Kurt truly craved was a guitar. So, with a ‘can do’ spirit that’s a boon to any independent musician, he simply played it as if it were a guitar. Along with his passion for the 4-track-toting titans of early 90’s indie-rock, Vile also harboured a love for classic rock of substance – Creedence, Tom Petty, Neil Young, artists with their roots in ‘Roots’, but with enough vision to carve out an Americana of their own. Within the footprints he was following, Vile began carving a path of his own, making an art of dipping from introspective mellow rambles, to sky-scraping anthems; eager to rock out, equally unafraid to sing low and sweet.

    Fast-forward some years and with The Violators in tow (the Heartbreakers to his Tom Petty, if you will) barnstormers like ‘Freak Train’ from the full-length Childish Prodigy [2009] were contrasted with more reflective and sun-dappled tunes from his break-through album Smoke Ring For My Halo [2011], as Kurt quietly became one of the great American guitarists and songwriters of our time.

    Wakin On A Pretty Daze, Vile’s fifth full-length, is an album that builds on all Kurt has done before, that makes sense of the supposedly contrary impulses of his previous work. Learning whilst ascending, he’s crafted an album that would have sounded great 30 years ago, sounds great today and will still sound great 30 years from now.

    Realising he’s in no rush to prove anything to anyone, songs on Wakin On A Pretty Daze unfurl at their own extended and unhurried pace, but not a second of this loveliness is wasted or surplus. The likes of ‘Air Bud’, ‘Was All Talk’ and ‘Gold Tone’ could keep on ringing out, exploring every possible wrinkle in its chord sequences and expounding with wisdom on the simple pleasures of a beautiful day, for as long as Kurt could stand to play them. These aren’t jams; these are songs that glide as they unwind, with a natural charm that’s enough to convince you that, yes, for Kurt, Makin’ music is easy. So, seriously: Watch him.

    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, 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’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.

    A self-confessed musical sponge, Kurt Vile began to create and release a series of lo-fi home recordings that reflected his admiration of everything from delta blues and skiffle right through to the minimalist aggression of Suicide. "Childish Prodigy" was recorded by Philly-based engineer Jeff Zeigler and is a marked progression for the former guitarist of The War On Drugs. More diverse than its predecessor, the album is a rich tapestry of rock and folk moments drenched in echo and feedback. Glossier in production and yet still retaining his lo-fi sensibilities, "Childish Prodigy" bears echoes of Tom Petty, "Street Legal"-era Bob Dylan, Spacemen 3 and Skip Spence. With a voice that is intimate yet immediate, "Childish Prodigy" is a record that rewards the patient listener.


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