Origin: Philadelphia, PA
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Kurt Samuel Vile (born January 3, 1980) is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer. He is best known for his solo career. Both in the studio and during live performances, Vile is accompanied by his backing band, The Violators, which currently includes Jesse Trbovich (bass, guitar, sax), Rob Laakso (guitar, bass) and Kyle Spence (drums).
Influenced by Pavement, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Tom Petty, and John Fahey, Vile began his musical career creating lo-fi home recordings with frequent collaborator Adam Granduciel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Focusing on his solo career, Vile released two albums, Constant Hitmaker (2008) and God Is Saying This to You… (2009), compiling various home recordings dating back to 2003. Vile signed to Matador Records in 2009, and released his third album, Childish Prodigy, that same year. The album was his first recorded in a studio and with the full participation of The Violators.
In 2011, Vile released his fourth studio album, Smoke Ring for My Halo, which significantly increased his exposure. He scored a genuine word-of-mouth hit with his fifth album, Wakin on a Pretty Daze, its elongated rambles conjuring hazy half-memories of Laurel Canyon while feeling uniquely situated to modern confines.
B’lieve I’m Goin Down…, released two years after that 2013 breakthrough, whittles away some of the excesses while retaining eccentricity, trading ten-minute sprawls with six-strings for woozy five-minute vamps on a piano. Electric guitars aren’t entirely absent but they’re used for coloring–arriving unexpectedly as a wash of distortion or perhaps a bit of percussion–on a record anchored by acoustic guitars and banjos.
Such instruments may suggest B’lieve I’m Goin Down… is an exercise in introspection, another exposed nerve from a sensitive singer/songwriter, but Vile often favors feel over form, so this unfolds with the logic of a dream, details falling into a place so subtly they’re felt, not heard. Often, B’lieve seems simple, rolling along with fingerpicked rhythms or barroom piano, and while it’s certainly emotionally direct–and, occasionally, musically direct too, nowhere more so than on the opening sequence of “Pretty Pimpin,” “I’m an Outlaw,” and “Dust Bunnies,” a trilogy of precision that eases into a shifting stoned daydream—B’lieve I’m Goin Down… is an impeccably arranged album beneath its soothing, sleepy surface, with every element assisting in an illusion of deep, shimmering, and alluring melancholy.
Vile and Courtney Barnett have been friends ever since she fell for his style on his album Smoke Rings for My Halo, and the track she cites “Peepin’ Tomboy.” She says, “there’s something about that album in particular that has a real magic to it, and I’ve followed him ever since. Apart from the sonic level of that album, I really loved his phrasing and lyrics. I felt really akin to it.”
As recounted in an article in the Australian newspaper, The Sunday Morning Herald , the two performers spent two Australian summers working together. Their friendship spawned a full-length collaboration and a cryptically named album, Lotta Sea Lice (with Kurt Vile).
Sacramento’s K-ZAP 93.3 FM plays Kurt Vile. All part of 50 years of Rock, Blues and More, 24-7 on our station’s stream at K-ZAP.ORG/LISTEN/