Tuesday, July 20, 2010
In this digital age, some have predicted the end of the album as the prevailing medium of musical expression. But Kurt Vile's latest work is proof that the spirit of the album - a thoughtfully sequenced whole, with a beginning and an end, a thought process brought to its conclusion - lives on, in this case vicariously through its little brother form, the EP.
Square Shells, released this past May, has all the breadth of a good album, exploring moods and genres to create something versatile and varying. Each song carries its own distinct atmosphere, ranging from the nostalgic brooding of "I Wanted Everything" to the more light-hearted "Ocean City", all of which are united by Kurt's craftsman's touch.
The EP is a lovely play on the contrasts between psychedelic and folk influences, shifting easily from drone-dominated instrumentals ("The Finder," "Invisibility: Non-Existent") to the more traditional folk-influenced, guitar-augmented vocals. Of the latter category, "I Know I Got Religion" is a stand-out. It feels like something recorded late at night in a hotel room, a moment of solitude eased by the familiarity of fingers sliding across frets.
Kurt's psych folk fusion reaches its most symbiotic form in the final track, "Hey, Now I'm Movin." The song swells to exquisite heights in the final few minutes, spinning a web of reverberated sound that will surely leave you excited about where it is he's moving to, and what kind of music will come of it.
So show some Philly pride and give this guy a listen - we'll probably be hearing a lot more from and about him soon.
Melany's grade: A