Kurt Vile Vinyl, CD & tapes by Kurt Vile at Norman Records
I think it's easy to overlook Kurt Vile. The mention of his name seems to illicit one of two reactions: the first, and most common, will be a nod of awareness and a mumble about The War On Drugs or 'Pretty Pimpin'', his most successful song ; the second will be a widening of the eyes and a profession of deep, deep love.
Vile has been steadily releasing great album after great album for over ten years. His music is a brew of classic Americana, folk, and indie. It's easy to draw comparisons with John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, John Fahey, and Tom Petty, but the music remains so identifiably Kurt. The classic Vile song has his trademark drawl spitting out lyrics that are funny, surreal, wistful, sad, coupled with virtuosic guitar playing and extended jam sections. He's got this knack, especially on songs like 'That's Life Tho (Almost Hate To Say)' and 'Never Run Away', of writing in a sonic about-turn that completely floors you, be it chord change, couplet, or melody line.
Vile's early material like 'Childish Prodigy' and 'God Is Saying This To You' is lo-fi and quite folky, mainly focused around guitar and voice, but his more recent work like 'Bottle It In' and what is perhaps his magnum opus 2013's 'B'lieve I'm Goin' Down' are much more grand, almost orchestral affairs, with drum machines, synths, and banjos.
His music is at once both challenging and comforting. Not only does he make beautiful, baffling music but he has probably the best name in the world.