Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter Kurt Vile is one of my favourite musicians on the scene today, and every album he completes only brings more of the same pure excellence. His fifth record, 2013's 'Walkin On A Pretty Daze' is nothing short of five star worthy, and was the one which first brought him real attention in terms of chart success. It received a placing all over the world, most notably in Sweden where it peaked at a respectable no.21. It was also a reasonable hit in the US, and narrowly missed the top 40 over here in Britain.
This is an excellent album from the founding member of The War on Drugs is a folk-rock lover's delight, with one classic tune after another, no fillers or substandard moments whatsoever, they all fit and gel together beautifully. The epic 9 minute, 30 seconds opener 'Walkin' On A Pretty Day', is a sublime psychedelic-folk rock song, and one of those few extra long tracks that I can happily listen to in it's entirety, without ever becoming bored or tempted to skip forward. Other magical moments can be found under the titles of 'KV Crimes;, Was All Talk, 'Girl Called Alex', 'Pure Pain', and 'Never Run Away'.
Kurt Vile, a kind of modern day Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty, and really - what Lou Reed would have sounded like in Nashville, sure knows his way around a guitar, and sings his heart out with real emotion. I don't say this very often, only really with the Scottish legend Donovan, but hearing Kurt's well-crafted, beautifully written songs on any album always makes me able to conquer up all kinds of wonderful imagery inside my head, it's like listening to cotton wool.
As what has become a common theme with Kurt's releases, the package is eco-friendly. The disc is housed in a separate cardboard sleeve, which is contained inside the album's main cardboard packaging, which looks very stylish, with a colourful graffiti wall there as the inlay. The accompanying booklet contains the full lyrics of all of the songs.
A fantastic follow up to Smoke Ring For My Halo. The songs are excellently developed with a lot more instrumental layering and incredibly catchy hooks. Each song flows easily into the next but without sounding too 'samey'. One of the best albums you'll buy this year...and probably next year too!
You will hear echoes of Richard Buckner and Howe Gelb in the singing on this album. The songs follow a line from Dylan through Neil Young and Tom Petty.Then onto more recent songsmiths of differing styles like Will Oldham,Jason Molina,Will Johnson,J Masics,and those two mentioned in the first line.All major players in most peoples` books. Kurt Vile fits in well in such exalted company,even if he hasn`t as yet released a piece of work comparable with those artists` classic releases(arguably we`re still waiting for J Masics`,but you get the point) As with the previous release this album is a grower so stick with it.There really isn`t one weak track,and the album highlights Kurt`s singing and guitar playing. Overall it is slightly darker,yet slightly better than his previous offering and is easily deserving of 4 stars. I think and hope, there`s even better to come,which is why this is not a classic 5 star album. My advise is to buy and enjoy the music from such a great artist and such a great release. Then visit his previous work as a solo player and as a member of the band The War On Drugs,the current darlings of certain music mags(Uncut in particular)
I genuinely look forward to those times when I can play this album in its entirety through a decent set of speakers. Most recently it provided the perfect woozy, uplifting soundtrack to a post-party clean-up. Having only heard a couple of tracks from earlier Kurt Vile records I had listened to 'Snowflakes are Dancing' and 'Girl Called Alex' on Spotify but been wary of the length of WOAPD and the number of longer tracks (which on appearance seemed extravagant). Man was I proved wrong. After the second occasion on which I played this album from front to back I decided, 'Right, I gotta buy this on CD.' This is just such a well-sequenced record and the arrangements are so compelling in terms of their shifting layers that the number of longer tracks doesn't make for a slog but instead an opportunity for joyous immersion. As with any great album, it helps that it's bookended by two tracks that encapsulate everything that is charming, melancholy, and life-affirming about Vile's wise-ass drawl and sparkling guitar tones. Thoroughly recommended and certainly one of the best records of 2013.
Philadelphia's finest Kurt Vile has gone out of his way in the build up to this new release to accentuate his impeccable slacker credentials as a prelude to his fifth solo album "Wakin' on A Pretty Daze". This reviewer is having none of this propaganda, since at work here is a dogged perfectionist who has over the past five years led the dynamic heartland rock community in the City of Brotherly Love that has orbited around the best band in America bar none "The War on Drugs". All these musicians have been releasing music like its going out of fashion. Vile in particular seems to relish putting out more eight minute plus songs on this new record than contained on the the average Allman Brothers album thus when he confesses in the title track that "I live along a straight line/ Nothing always comes to mine/To be frank, I'm fried /But I don't mind" you wonder how much more he would release were he ever to become hyper? It raises the question if this level of prodigious output serves to lower his quality control; happily the answer is an emphatic no. That said for anyone who owns 2011's epic "Smoke Ring for My Halo" whilst there is no noticeable sharp rupture or break with its illustrious predecessor ("KvCrimes" would fit on either album), this new records aesthetic does provide a noticeably different approach which emphasises a much more assured and confident songwriter.
Starting at the album closer is illustrative, since the ten minute plus "Goldtone" happily ambles along at a luxurious pace and Vile's polished drawl punctuates it with verses which keep your attention in a loose way throughout its subtly languorous duration. This is good old fashioned A grade stoner rock which spread out over an hour of music and eleven songs cements Vile has one of the best solo acts on the North American continent. Opener "Walkin on a pretty day" bears a symbiotic relationship to "Goldtone" in length and is underpinned by that that melodic guitar solo infused rock which Vile and his War on Drugs counterpart Adam Granduciel should take out a full patent upon. This album does indeed veer slightly closer to the vibe of WODs "Slave Ambient" not least in the synth driven rock of the best song present "Was all talk" and one of the standout tracks the wonderfully powerful "Snowflakes are dancing". The impact of this is a less grungy album than "Smoke Ring" but a stronger set of much brighter pop/rock songs plus some convergence with "Air Bud" almost sharing the same guitar backdrop as Granduciel's "Brothers". Throughout the more airy and light infused tracks scream an attempt by Vile to combine his roots rock credentials with a dreamy feast of spacey drone not least in the punchy "Shame Chamber" and the Tom Petty inspired "Pure Pain" which will belt out of car audios when the north winds cease blowing. Finally the simple acoustics of "Never run way" is perfectly pitched and economical in approach.
Some will argue that Vile remains an acquired taste for those in need of retro musical fixes that involve a hybrid of Lou Reed crossed with Neil Young. This has lead the Independent in its review to snottily conclude that all this album amounts to is "mid-paced alt rock, reminiscent of the Dandy Warhols in a coma". This is errant nonsense and sharp pins should be stuck in a copy of the Indy for its lack of taste and foresight. Granted Vile is not a true original but "Wakin on A Pretty Daze" is a record full of exultation of spirit, songs that grow on every listen and represents real prime steak amongst much of the horse meat burgers of modern rock.
Wakin On A Pretty Daze is the fifth long-playing release from blue-collar hero Kurt Vile, the current king of heartland rock and, or so it would seem, the whole city of Philadelphia. True to his increasingly laid-back narrative and with a running time well over an hour, it's now fairly safe to assume Vile's snotty, lo-fi past is behind him. Yet, despite a storytelling arc which, amongst other things, deals with having to comes to terms with responsibility, Vile is nevertheless still keen on sticking it to the man - albeit in more subtle tones than on 2011's smash Smoke Ring For My Halo.
Forever a product of his FM upbringing, Vile continues to draw from a rich palette of American icons, largely limiting himself to three main players this time around: Dylan, Young and Reed. "Making music's easy" Vile jokes on "Was All Talk". Well, it's not if you're gonna emulate these three and get away with it any credibility. There's certainly more to it than Wakin On A Pretty Daze`s vintage construct, the Sunday-morning pacing sure to alienate some younger ears and their Internet-fried attention spans. A downbeat mid-section will do little to convince them neither - a dose of considered bile would help enliven the listen, but Vile is no flavour-of-the-month. He lives and breathes the lonesome Americana he preaches, edging his craft closer to the greats on which he grew with each chord progression. His imagery of the road-less-travelled is borne of experience and if his tales are not toasted with the same romantic beams of sunlight that warmed his own back in reality then they certainly are in ideal.
There's a balance to be struck and with "Pure Pain", on which Vile laments his own success via mixed tempos, audible fretwork and train-like pedal steel, he manages to instil a sense of hopeless optimism entirely apt for his brand of competent, conscious slacking. Indeed, Vile's easy-going drawl leads you to think he's been hammering the herb, but a declaration that he doesn't "touch the stuff" during the dreamy, sun-dappled "Goldtone" would seem to disprove the notion.
Though his eyes may nevertheless remain half-mast, Vile's brain is working overtime. His folksy finger-picking is mesmeric, the unobtrusive arrangements of long-time partners The Violaters blissful and/or sorrowful as appropriate. And whilst this is a collection that unquestionably meanders through MOR psychedelia under its own organic steam, Vile brings confidence enough to know when to sit back and let the guitars do the talking and when to allow his withering observation to bite. Though it's played at too slow a speed, "KV Crimes" is straight-up classic-rock for example; "Snowflakes Are Dancing" and the focussed "Never Run Away" relatively dynamic in such gentle company too.
Whilst Smoke Ring For My Halo seemed very much timeless in the landscape of American rock, Wakin On A Pretty Daze seems a little more out of place. Rather, it's of a specific time and place no longer generally accessible outside of the grand traditions of the American dream. Vile hasn't lost his touch - far from it - he's just living in a world of pure aesthetic, beaming his celestial ideology back to us in album form - his earthly crown very much intact.
Bought this is a result of the link with War on Drugs whose album "Lost in the Dream" I couldn't stop playing. This is an excellent album whose tracks nurdle their way into your brain as you penetrate each nuance. Had it for about 4 weeks and can't stop playing it. Current favourite is "Girl called Alex". Will now trawl Kurt's back catalogue.