Tag Archive | Kurt Vile

Video Clip of the Week: The Allah-Las, “501-415”



It wasn’t until I heard “501-415” by the cleverly-named Allah-Las that I realized how much Kurt Vile sounds like a modern day Bob Dylan. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Because Kurt Vile is the Shizznit.

It makes sense that this band is from Los Angeles, especially since NPR‘s review offers that “The vintage sounds of Allah-Las combine the harmonies and hooks of the British Invasion with the atmosphere of a West Coast psychedelic band.” This 1 minute 45 seconds bit of sonic bliss just captures the dreamy aspect of a California lifestyle so perfectly. Their bio even mentions the members meeting while working at Amoeba Music in LA. So yeah, there are no accidents. The video looks like it was tons of fun to make as well, giving them the chance to use eclectic props like a dessicated cow skull and a Pinata. Fun!

Allah-Las‘ second album, Worship The Sun will be released on September 16th on the Innovative Leisure imprint. You should buy it. Like them on the FaceBook at This Link. Enjoy!

Allah Las Band
Photo Credit: Wesley Herron

Advertisements

Recommended Listening: Kurt Vile, Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze

Kurt Vile Wakin On A Pretty Daze CD Cover
Album Cover Art By Steve Powers!

When it comes to modern music, not much impresses me these days. If you look back over the past few years at any Top 10 Albums list I might have compiled – in those years where I was even able to cobble together such a list at all – you’ll see it’s comprised partly of comeback records by classic rockers, greatest hits packages or tribute albums that revisit the material of a legendary artist. That’s rather pathetic, I know, for a writer who once embraced the tagline ‘Rock Critic at Large,’ but it is what it is. I don’t apologize for being unable to shake the feeling that the best years for popular music are, for the most part, 30 – or even 40 – years behind us.

It if it weren’t for Australia’s Tame Impala, who’ve managed to harness a sound comparable to Led Zeppelin on downers, or Canada’s The Sheepdogs, who pay homage to the seventies better than most bands did back in the ‘70s, there probably wouldn’t be one new band I could name in the past few years whose records gave me any kind of a thrill at all. And then there’s an enigma like Kurt Vile; a singer/songwriter/guitarist whose Murmur-esque vocal delivery is coupled with an amazing finesse for musical arrangements and an ability to turn a phrase that rivals Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen. On Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze, his follow-up to 2011′s brilliant Smoke Ring for My Halo, Vile once again completely and totally blows my mind.

In search of a contemporary reference, I’d say that Kurt Vile keeps company with fellow singer/songwriter and innovator Joseph Arthur, who possesses an equal gift for infusing seductive aural melancholia with an exhilarating emotional transcendence. Like Arthur, Vile’s lyrics are wickedly introspective and his knack for finely tuned word economy is juxtaposed with jam-heavy arrangements that indicate Vile is in no hurry to get where he’s going. The nine-minute-plus title track launches the disc with Vile’s countrified acoustic strumming that carry his dreamlike musings about what might be in store for the next 18 or so waking hours, as circular guitar patterns draw the listener deeply into the artist’s head. In fact, “Head Music” is not an entirely inappropriate label for these eleven aural journeys that play out over the course of a full, blissful hour.

And just in case you drifted away, the comparatively strident opening chords of “KV Crimes” jolts you back to consciousness before the hand percussion-driven, traveling rhythm of “Was All Talk” swallows you whole with its limitless gorgeousness. Over five albums worth of material, I don’t know if Vile has written a better song than this. “There was a time in my life when they thought I was all talk,” is such an exquisitely personal fuck you to naysayers, while remaining ambiguous enough to allow the listener to adopt the song as his or her own anthem of self realization. And when he sings, “Making music is easy – watch me,” one could believe that this song effortlessly flowed right through Vile. Seriously, when it comes to amazing songwriting, “Was All Talk” is right up there with “All The Young Dudes” and “Shake Some Action.” The fact that Vile lets a song that could have been neatly wrapped up in three and a half minutes continue on for over seven makes it all the more bittersweet when it finally comes to an end.

What’s most amazing about Wakin On A Pretty Daze is that every song on the record is that good. Each track packs a jaw-dropping Oh Wow Factor that makes my head explode. “Girl Called Alex” mines the minor chord gloom in a way that recalls a meatier version of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” or Dylan’s “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.” Showcasing Vile’s flair for changing up arrangements, “Pure Pain” alternates between what I’d call a baroque stomp and a waltz. The remaining tracks could be summed up as follows: great, great, great, great, great. I recommend you pick up a copy of Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze and start developing your own relationship with a disc that I am just going to go ahead and call the Album of The Year.

Grade: A+

Steve Powers Designs Upcoming Kurt Vile Album Artwork

Wakin On a Pretty Daze
Photo by Jessie Trbovich

I was so crazy about Kurt Vile’s 2011 release, Smoke Ring For My Halo that I could not possibly be more excited to hear that he has a new CD coming out in 2013, entitled Wakin on a Pretty Daze. What makes this news even cooler is the announcment that the album cover art, seen as a street mural in the photo above, is by contemporary painter Steve “Stephen” Powers, whose fun and original work I was introduced to this past summer at an exhibit at Joshua Liner Gallery. This mural, which I am guessing depicts the names of songs found on the album, is located at the intersection of Front and Master Streets in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, where Vile is from. Produced by John Agnello, and described by Vile as being comparable to Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, but “No cheese, just rock,” Wakin on a Pretty Daze is due out in the spring.