Some 17 months ago, a particularly hyperbole-crazed record company functionary gushed about this imprint’s signing of “one of the more important figures in American music circa 2009”, certainly the sort of poisoned chalice a young musician would have as much trouble living down as the subject of Jon Landau’s 1974 claim in The Real Paper, “I have seen rock’n’roll future.”
We of course know that in the latter instance, Landau was referring to Paul Williams, and in the former, I was writing about Philadelphia’s Kurt Vile. Through a succession of releases for Matador, Woodsist, Gulcher, Richie and Mexican Summer (not to mention constant touring, both as a headliner an in support of a dizzying range of artists including Ariel Pink, Sonic Youth, Fucked Up, Big Star, The National, Dinosaur Jr.and others) Kurt has quickly established himself as the troubadour du jour for an increasingly large number of clued-in persons. Though initially praised in some corners for having “absorbed a lifetime’s worth of FM rock”, Kurt’s music has developed into something less genre/period-specific yet far more focused & powerful. On March 8, we’ll be unveiling the next stage in that development with the LP/CD/digital album, ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’ ; recorded by John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) throughout 2010 at various studios in NYC, Hoboken and Philadelphia, the 2nd Kurt Vile full-length for Matador is easily his most ambitious work to date. Assisted by a cast including but not limited to the Violators, ‘Smoke Ring’ doesn’t merely showcase Kurt’s versatility (keep in mind, this is a guy who was once compared to Leonard Cohen, Psychic TV, Tom Petty and Animal Collective — in the same review), but truly ties otherwise disparate elements together in a way that hopefully causes everyone to seriously re-evaluate the very nature of what they consider to be a classic album.
Or failing that, the sort of album you’ll be playing very loud in the car. Or first thing in the morning. Or perhaps at 3am. We could call it a record for every mood but you might be far moodier than any of us and that wouldn’t be fair.
‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’ :
Puppet To The Man
Society Is My Friend
In My Time
Smoke Ring For My Halo
In the very near future, we’ll be making another preview MP3 from ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’ available, but until then, you’ll have to be satisfied with the titular track from the recently released 7″ EP, “In My Time”. We’re planning a special, limited edition version of the ‘Smoke Ring’ LP but need to keep the details to ourselves for the time being, but expect a formal announcement soon, along with information about Kurt’s 2011 live activity.
Kurt Vile “In My Time” [192kbps mp3]