US - Pennsylvania - Full Moon 212 - 12/17/13
Kurt Vile and The Violators
It's a big world out there (and I am scared)
Kurt Samuel Vile was the co-founder of indie rock combo The War on Drugs, but left the band after their debut Wagonwheel Blues
(2008), to focus on a solo career. Following this year's highly praised 5th album, Wakin On A Pretty Daze comes It's a big
world out there (and I am scared) as an appendix to Wakin On A Pretty Daze: Deluxe Daze (Post Haze) edition. Quite a creative
year for Vile. Like the Matador label say: "Not a bad year for the former forklift driver."
He's even recognized, praised and hailed as a star in his hometown: the Mayor of Philadelphia announced August 28th 'Kurt Vile Day'.
At the age of 14 Vile's father gave his son a banjo (according to Vile himself: "I kind of
wished [it] was a guitar. So I'd kind of just play it like a guitar anyway. I was really into writing pretty primitive tunes, and really
into recording. I pretty much knew I was going to do music [with my life] then."), and young Kurt took up playing and song-writing,
influenced by Pavement, Beck, (Smog), and the record label, Drag City ("I really thought I could
be on Drag City. I really wanted that. I heard these people that made good music but it was still pretty raw, and had this real cult
quality."), as well as 'classics' such as Neil Young, Tom Petty, and the more experimental John Fahey. Meaning DIY mixed with
some more 'trad' American singer/songwriter stuff. He started out of the lo-fi home-recording crib, to expand into more fi-organized songs.
When Vile started writing his first songs (on the banjo) he's said his first self-penned to be "...a
joke song. It was a good instrumental; I knew all these chords, but then I was quoting a cartoon as the lyrics on top of it. I had seen
this cartoon about Superman and Lex Luthor; it was like the back history of why Lex Luthor hated Superman. They used to be friends, and
then some giant stone of kryptonite fell and it made Lex Luthor's hair fall out, and he was like, 'You made all my hair fall out!' It
was a really stupid cartoon, but that was my song, "You Made All My Hair Fall Out"." Weird, wild and wonderful, right. A playful
and creative mind from the start for sure.
Vile recorded and released his debut Constant Hitmaker (Gulcher Records and Woodsist 2008), followed by God Is Saying This to
You... (Mexican Summer Records 2009). He was then signed to Matador Records, who put out his Childish
Prodigy (2009). In 2011 came the John Agnello produced (Sonic Youth, Screaming Trees, Dinosaur Jr., Thurston Moore, Patti Smith, Redd
Kross, Buffalo Tom, Son Volt, The Kills, Drive-By Truckers, as well as Norwegian acts Madrugada and Turbonegro) Smoke Ring for My Halo,
which started a bigger buzz for Vile. Accompanied (live as well as in studio) by his backing band, The Violators (currently including
multi-instrumentalists Jesse Trbovich and Rob Laakso, plus drummer Vince Nudo) Vile creates laid-back and semi-epic indie-rock with a
personal signature. Vile's songs and his expression has this 'numb' feeling. This is for sure laid-back and pleasing material. It is slack,
but highly potent songs, showing strong vibes and slow, yet hard punches. From the opening "Never Run Away (String Synth)", via its 'tail'
"NRA Reprise", throughout "Feel My Pain" (with a certain Fahey-feel) and "The Ghost Of Freddie Roach". "Wedding Budz" (related to Wakin
On A Pretty Daze's "Air Bud") is a bit Young-ish, while "Snowflakes Extended" (yes, it's an extended version of "Snowflakes Are Dancing",
off Wakin On A Pretty Daze) is my favourite track on this album. When hearing Vile's songs I also come to think of Deerhunter/Bradford
Cox, or his moniker Atlas Sound. Maybe due to the lazed and dazed vocals and song structures. To quote Matador Records:
"Within just a few years he's quietly become one of the great American guitarists and song-writers
of our time, crafting an album that would have sounded great 30 years ago, sounds great today and will still sound great 30 years from
Copyright © 2013 Håvard Oppøyen