There’s a fine line between genius and disgusting. With his long, and presumably greasy hair, his non-eye contact, his unsmooth speech patterns and general lack of awareness (which manifests itself as complete self-control and acute sense of awesomeness), Kurt Vile is everything you’d expect an unfettered disgusting genius to be. Okay, okay, so he’s actually quite a likeable gentleman, but let’s not nitpick.
The occasion for I which I was speaking with Vile was a performance at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver, part of a tour to promote the release of his new album “Wakin On A Pretty Daze” (his second show in Vancouver as part of the tour). Like many artists, he seemed slightly uncomfortable during our chat session. He wasn’t necessarily fidgety but he never once looked directly at me, ‘uh-med and aaah-ed’ a lot, plus there was a telephone constantly going off in the background, much to his slight annoyance.
While he is unquestionably a talented guitar player – his reverb is second to none – his unabashedly dry wit is even more spectacular. Almost all of CD titles are puns, with “Wakin On A Pretty Daze” being the least punny. One of his songs shares its name with a basketball-playing dog from (originally) 1997. I’ll let you think about that one for a moment. Most of the tracks on “Daze” are in the six, seven, and eight minute range. Clearly Vile is not starved for content. And why should when most of the songs off the album are about his life (or so he claims). Though there are couple of songs that are of average, three-and-a-half-minutes length as well. Just so Vile doesn’t overwhelm us with his epicness.
Vile seems all-to-aware that he is a hippie-freak-of-a-nature and he revels in it. Speaking of hippies and freaks, the Vile music experience is quite a trip. It’s something about his voice (and that damn reverb). I actually felt like I was living in a 1960s commune. “Air Bud” has a classic acid rock feel that would make Frank Zappa jump out of his moustache. “KV Crimes” has a more traditional 60s rock feel, while the title track is like rockabilly played at a quarter speed. His voice has a transcendent quality to it and arguably has greater meditative qualities than the Maharishi. Unlike many other greasy singers, his voice fits perfectly with the type of music he outputs. Very dreamy. Or McDreamy if you so prefer.
He is a vile man, an even viler musician and even a more down-to-earth guy. His “Wakin on a Pretty Daze” put the entire audience in some sort of rockstar daze (or maybe it was haze). At any rate, Kurt Vile knows exactly what he is doing, how to do it, and how to make us enjoy it.
Vile’s fifth album “Wakin On A Pretty Daze” was released on April 9, 2013 by Matador Records.
RIYL: Frank Zappa, Tom Petty, cream, The Doors, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead