May 12

Kurt Vile: “Jesus Fever”


Funny thing is, if you scan those stripes at the top as a bar code, it rings up as "The Care Bears Songbook."

So I had this mostly written up on New Music Monday itself, but then had to set it aside for a bit, and by the time I got back to it…well — this week it’s “New Music Tuesday.” But no matter, on we go…

The lineup of bands and artists at the Sasquatch Music Festival on Saturday, May 26, reads like a Who’s Who of Reselect.com New Music Monday artists: of those that I’ve featured here, Blitzen Trapper, Tune-Yards, Dum Dum Girls, and St. Vincent will all be appearing (among many others). I’m not sure why they didn’t just call it the Reselect Music Festival — I’m going to have to talk to someone about that.

In any case, I have the good fortune of having snagged a ticket for that day, and to say I’m really looking forward to it would be a gross understatement. And in addition to the aforementioned artists, you can now add one more to the Reselect list: Kurt Vile. He’ll be playing that day as well, and his most recent album, Smoke Ring for My Halo, which came out in 2011, is a very cool alt-folk-rock album (for lack of a better description) that I’ve been listening to quite a bit lately. (Technically, it’s too “old” for New Music Monday, having been released in March, just over 12 months ago, but it’s newer than that to me, so what the heck — rules were meant to be broken.)

Vile’s vocal style is sort of a cross between J. Mascis, of Dinosaur Jr., and Lloyd Cole. Musically, the songs lie closer to Cole’s literate pop, but with some of the gloominess of Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake added in. There’s a definite late-night sheen over everything, and I’d suggest that this is one of the better late-night listens to have been released in the past couple of years. Vile has only been releasing music for the past 4 or 5 years, and if Smoke Ring for My Halo is any indication, I’ll be looking forward to many more. “Jesus Fever” has some very cool chord changes in amongst the gloominess, sounding like a more minor-key song from one of Lloyd Cole’s first couple of albums. The “already gone” motif throughout the song sounds familiar, but all in all Vile seems to revel in the depression, seemingly his way of having fun. And hey, if he can make being down uplifting, more power to him, I say.

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