Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

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Kurt Vile: Runner Ups
Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

The captivatingly named rock troubadour Vile from Philadelphia offers a kind of alt.folk-cum-indie rock skew which refers to Cohen as much as Cobain.

But he also has an ear for a mainstream rock melody (Puppet the the Man here with AOR guitars behind his echoed alt.rock vocals) and recently said his current listening includes the Stones' Love You Live and Neil Young's On the Beach from the mid-to-late 70s.

Between those broad parameters he crafts an album which dips into slightly bitter ruminations of being on the road (On Tour with “watch out for this one, he'll stab you in the back for fun” over low and moody guitar); the surreptitiously engrossing Society is My Friend (“he makes me lie down in a cold blood bath”) which works over a hypnotic repeated backdrop of 12-string, mellotron and slide; and Runner Ups which is equally low-range and broody (“my best friend's long gone, but I got runner ups”).

Peeping Tomboy about indecision and being uncertain about what he wants to do comes with finger-picking acoustic guitar.

Although here with a band (the three-piece Violators) and other assistance you can imagine Vile – who repeats himself musically in a few places – would grip just as well if playing a solo acoustic set in a wine bar at midnight.

Dark folk-edged rock with pop smarts from a skeptical, world-weary one.

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