Tag Archives: Kurt Vile

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Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions End Tour at Brooklyn Steel

October 20th, 2017

Around the turn of the millennium, Mazzy Star singer Hope Sandoval teamed up with My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig to form the dream-pop outfit Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions. Their first full-length, Bavarian Fruit Bread (stream it below), debuted in 2001. “The two great transatlantic strands of narcoleptic pop having been dramatically united, Bavarian Fruit Bread represents a towering piece of morphine-induced self-indulgence,” said NME. “Making no pretense at being contemporary, Sandoval has kept an uncharacteristic vice-like grip on the sleepy sound that earned her and Ó Cíosóig their musical spurs.” Through the Devil Softly (stream it below) followed in 2009, impressing Drowned in Sound: “This is a record to be drunk from deeply, preferably in solitude, along with a bottle of whatever makes you purr as warmly as Sandoval and her Inventions can—and evidently still do—at their best.” Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions (above, their video for “Let Me Get There,” featuring Kurt Vile) returned last year with their third LP, Until the Hunter (stream it below). “It features many hushed, lit-by-candlelight ballads, loads of quiet beauty, and Sandoval’s timelessly beautiful singing. Songs drift by on a wispy cloud of acoustic strumming, lazily twanged slide guitar and twinkling keys, sometimes gently pushed forward by lightly brushed drums, sometimes left to float along on their own,” according to AllMusic. And while the duo often goes years between releases, they put out a three-track EP, Son of a Lady (stream it below), prior to hitting the road last month. Be there when they close out their American tour on Sunday night at Brooklyn Steel. Austin, Texas, four-piece Holy Wave open the show.

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Kurt Vile and the Violators – Terminal 5 – December 28, 2016

December 29th, 2016

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Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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Don’t Miss Kurt Vile and the Violators Tomorrow at Terminal 5

December 27th, 2016

Ever since amicably parting ways with the War on Drugs, following the band’s tour in support of their debut album, Wagonwheel Blues, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kurt Vile has made a name for himself with a series of stellar EPs and LPs—that have blossomed from fuzzy, lo-fi affairs into spacious, atmospheric endeavors—done solo and as Kurt Vile and the Violators. Wakin on a Pretty Daze (stream it below), out in 2013, built on his earlier work and became a word-of-mouth hit. And with widespread acclaim, Vile’s most recent full-length, B’lieve I’m Goin Down… (stream it below), made waves among critics and fans alike when it arrived last fall. The Guardian called it a “terrific slow-burner,” and the A.V. Club said it’s “easily Vile’s masterpiece to date…. Kurt Vile loosens up as he continues his astounding roll.” And while Kurt Vile and the Violators (above, performing “Pretty Pimpin”) have earned comparisons to Neil Young and Crazy Horse for their recorded material, it’s probably even more apt for their fiery live performances. Catch one of those terrific performances tomorrow night at Terminal 5. Brooklyn psych-folk outfit Woods and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Bowles open the show.

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Five Questions with Holly Laessig of Lucius

September 21st, 2016

Lucius return to New York City to play SummerStage in Central Park on Friday night, and Holly Laessig, one half of the band’s lead-vocals tandem, rang up The House List, from Oklahoma where she and Jess Wolfe were rehearsing for singing background for Roger Waters at Desert Trip, to answer Five Questions.

Plenty of musicians change their sound from album to album. Was that a clear intention in moving from the folkier Wildewoman to the poppier Good Grief? Or was that just how your sound evolved? It’s funny. People comment on how different the two are. But Wildewoman was recorded over a few years, and we were in no rush at the beginning because we didn’t have anything to be rushing for—we were just starting out. And we took our time and made it right. We came out with Wildewoman and we had kind of put the band together throughout and after making that record. So when we toured on it, things started to change, and the sound started to change. And the show got a lot more energetic, and the audience was reacting a lot more to the show than the record. People commented a lot how the live show and the record sounded so different, and that the live shows were so much more energetic. I think by the time we got to the end of that cycle, it was where Good Grief was picking up naturally, but from just listening from a record standpoint, there does seem to be a bigger difference than it felt like.

How was recording Good Grief different than recording Wildewoman? We took a different approach to it. We got off the road—we had been touring for, like, a year-and-a-half straight. And we were exhausted, and we decided to go to L.A. to kind of decompress and start writing. So Jess and I took a few months to write, just the two of us. And we would send the guys rough demos and then they would do their own versions of the same song—and kind of build arrangements around them. So when we went into the studio, we had at least two versions of everything. And we worked with Shawn Everett—he did the Alabama Shakes record with Blake Mills—he’s like this crazy alien angel person [laughing]. He’s one of our really closest friends, and he’s always got these wild ideas. So we were really excited to get into the studio with him. He had an idea to make communication easier with five very strong personalities in the studio. To kind of smooth things over and to get everyone’s voice heard, he thought it would be helpful to come up with a bunch of reference tracks: “For each track that we’re gonna work on, think of a song that you think could influence this.” So it could be “I like the sound of the tone on this Rolling Stones track.” Or “I like the way these vocals were recorded on this West African tune.” And we would all pick one or two songs and put ’em in a box, and he would pick them out one by one—it was all anonymous. And we would listen to everything, like 10 to 15 songs, and write down on a dry erase board everything we like about each one. It could be very specific, as far as a recording technique, or it could be more vague, like a feeling. And once we had this dry erase board of notes, we would then start working on the song. So it was a really interesting way of going about it, and I think we got a lot of good stuff we would’ve normally not even considered.

How did your appearance on Roadies come about? And any chance you’ll be adding “Willin’” to your set list? I mean, I don’t think we could top singing that with Jackson Browne, so probably not. Fair. Rafe Spall, who is one of the actors on Roadies—so the story goes: Rafe’s friend Rafe, which is hilarious to me. The first Rafe I ever met, and I met two of them in one day. His friend recommended our music to him, and he was playing it one day on set. And Cameron was like, “Who’s this?” And Rafe said, “This band Lucius.” And he said, “Well, let’s get ’em in here. See if they want to do an episode.” So we met him, and he’s the nicest guy ever. And we said, “Yeah, absolutely, we’d love to do this.” It was a really cool experience. It was really inspiring to see Cameron Crowe as a director and a leader. Everybody who was there, from the actors to the makeup people to the crew people to catering—everybody—was like, “Yeah, we work really hard, sometimes we work late hours, but we’re happy to do it because Cameron’s the man.” And he really was. We had some lines, and I was incredibly nervous about it because it’s not what we do normally. So there was this one line, and I was like, “This isn’t how I’d normally phrase this.” And I was trying to get my head inside it so I could say it the right way. And I asked him, and he said, “Let’s go over it.” And he dropped everything and took me aside, and he would’ve gone over this, like, one line with me for as long as I wanted—very, very patient. It was great, and we got to sing with Jackson Browne, and Jim James was on the set. It was cool.

For some bands, live shows are like a theater piece in that the set doesn’t change much, but the performers are aware of the subtle nuances each night. And for others, every night’s show is different than the one before. Where do you land on that spectrum? Like as far as each night being different? Yeah, I mean, a band like U2, they play pretty much the same set most nights, but it’s not the same show obviously. But someone like Bruce Springsteen or Pearl Jam, they change their set every night. I guess for each leg of a tour, we tend to stick generally to the same set. Some songs we change a little bit, but it’s nice once you get into a groove to stick with it, the transitions go more easily. But every show’s different regardless, especially because of the audience—not to put it all on the audience—but the vibe and the venue and the city, everything can really make a break a show for the performer. If your audience is really giving back to you, and you’re bouncing off of that, sometimes we have funny banter or things can change, or we’ll decide let’s do this song instead because they’re liking the up-tempo ones. So occasionally, it’s just, like, fly by the seat of your pants. But it’s definitely nice to get into a groove.

What new music have you been listening to? We’ve been listening to the new Angel Olsen record a lot. It only came out a couple weeks ago, I think. We’re excited to be playing with Big Thief in Central Park. And I’m stoked to see them ’cause I love that record. I love Alabama Shakes. We went to see that show at the Greek, and it was so good. That’s a good one to groove to, for sure. Was that with Kurt Vile? Yeah, and I love that record too. And Kurt Vile’s on the bill for One Big Holiday in February. Oh, yeah. That’s gonna be so fun! —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Steve Gunn Kicks Off Tour at Home at Music Hall of Williamsburg

June 10th, 2016

Steve Gunn and the Outliners – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 9, 2016

Steve Gunn and the Outliners – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 9, 2016
Steve Gunn is a guitarists’ guitarist, much in the same way that there are comedians’ comedians (Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce, Louis CK). He’s earned the respect and admiration of Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis, Wilco and the guy who I buy strings from in the guitar shop off Carmine St. Gunn falls somewhere on the guitar family tree under John Fahey, the legendary master of Americana ragas, and he certainly shares his ability to hold down meditative rhythms while stringing a different melody through them. That he’s able to sing on top of it all (something Fahey rarely did) makes the skill all the more impressive. Back from a recent European tour, Gunn returned home to Brooklyn—at Music Hall of Williamsburg—last night, kicking off his American tour in promotion of the excellent Eyes on the Lineshis Matador debut.

Gunn began as a guitarist for Kurt Vile’s Violators, and Vile got his own start as a guitarist for the War on Drugs. If this tradition holds up, stay tuned for an amazing debut from Jim Elkington, who embellishes Gunn’s tunes with artful twangs of his slide guitar. Elkington and Gunn proved to be impressively skilled, trading guitar solos in an epic call-and-response session off the jams of “Park Bench Smile.” Both made use of racks of guitars and a healthy number of pedals to bleed just the right sound out of their noodling. “Ancient Jules” showcased some of the finest riffs to have come out thus far in 2016, searing through a steady on-the-road flowing rhythm. Mid-set, the crowd started yelling, “More Steve!” “More Steve?” replied Gunn. “What does that even mean? Oh, turn me up?”

The set wound down with just Elkington and Gunn on acoustic guitars for a stripped-down version of the beautiful “Wildwood.” The full band returned for the encore with “Way Out Weather” with Gunn’s guitar drifting in and out of the song like a gentle breeze.
—Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesosteinberg.com

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Kurt Vile Feels Right at Home at Terminal 5

October 28th, 2013

Kurt Vile and the Violators – Terminal 5 – October 25, 2013


So many times we see a band hit the playing–Terminal 5 phase of their trajectory accompanied by lasers, smoke machines and other hullabaloo (see: the Flaming Lips). But when Kurt Vile took the T5 stage on Friday night, it was quite the opposite: The vibe was laid back and, as if to accentuate the point, the only out-of-the-ordinary stage accoutrement was a couch in the back corner. Not just a couch, but one with a tapestry draped over it, like something you might have had in your freshman dorm room.

That isn’t to say there weren’t any pyrotechnics. Vile’s guitar playing was explosive and colorful, a spectacle unto itself. The second song, “Wakin on a Pretty Day,” the almost-title track off his best-of-year album perfectly embodied the entire set. Vile playing an acoustic guitar piped through pick-ups and pedals to give it a unique, electrified sound was both beautiful and vicious. His vocals came off with a stoner’s sweet nonchalance, somewhere between a mumble and deep thinker’s musing, while his band, the Violators, helped build an intense, hypnotic solo into a furious jam.

“Was All Talk,” another highlight, featured Vile spinning imagery about the “spirit in the sky” like a driving-toward-the-sunset daydream, and the Violators swirling an audio tornado—the line between acoustic and electric getting washed away in the process. “Girl Called Alex” was beautiful and ragged all at once, little zapped keyboard riffs accenting the psych rock nicely. Eventually, Vile did make it over to that couch for a tune, a single spotlight illuminating him and his fingers plucking stunning beauty on the acoustic guitar, his voice as strong as it had been all night. It really did feel like we were all in a ramshackle living room, watching an unappreciated talent futz around, those of us lucky enough to be there thinking, “Man, someday this guy’s gonna be playing Terminal 5….” —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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One Not to Miss: Kurt Vile Tonight at Terminal 5

October 25th, 2013

Lo-fi singer-songwriter-guitarist Kurt Vile cares a lot about his sound. This could be said of most musicians, of course, but anyone familiar with Vile’s work knows that it’s all those little details that make his music so remarkable. All those guitar ditties that weasel their way into your head and never leave end up defining his songs as a whole. A lot of bands tend to leave these nuanced details out of their live show—or bury them sonically so that they’re hardly audible under everything else. But with Kurt Vile, he ensures that all those nuances are accounted for. And with the help of his backing band, the Violators, and a stage littered with effects pedals and guitars of every stripe, there’s an impressive depth to his live sound that’s easy on the ears. Behind swaths of hair and layers of distortion, it becomes noticeable that he comes from the J Mascis school of “let me throw down a huge and searing guitar riff without making it look like it takes any effort at all.” Kurt Vile (above, doing “Wakin on a Pretty Daze” live in studio for KEXP FM) is currently touring behind his fifth full-length, the superb Wakin on a Pretty Daze (stream it below), which NME calls “slacker pop perfection.” And if you don’t see him tonight at Terminal 5, well, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. —Dan Rickershauser

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Kurt Vile’s Picking Up Steam

May 17th, 2013

Kurt Vile and the Violators – The Bowery Ballroom – May 16, 2013


Kurt Vile cares a lot about his sound. This could be said of most musicians, of course, but anyone familiar with Vile’s work knows that it’s all those little details that make his music so remarkable. All those guitar ditties that weasel their way into your head and never leave end up defining his songs as a whole. A lot of bands tend to leave these nuanced details out of their live show—or bury them sonically so that they’re hardly audible under everything else. But with Kurt Vile, he ensures that all those nuances are accounted for. And with the help of his backing band, the Violators, and a stage littered with effects pedals and guitars of every stripe, there’s an impressive depth to his live sound that’s easy on the ears.

Vile kicked off his show last night at The Bowery Ballroom with the title track to his latest album, Wakin on a Pretty Daze. He came out wearing a white denim jacket, white denim jeans and white Converse. All this white made his iconic gnarled mop of hair all the more noticeable. And when the jacket came off by the second song, you could see that it was lined with leopard print. For such an unassuming fellow, Vile’s got some subtle swag. While watching his guitar skills on “Jesus Fever,” it became noticeable that he comes from the J Mascis school of “let me throw down a huge and searing guitar riff without making it look like it takes any effort at all.”

Vile’s guitar playing is fun to watch, in part for how unconventional it is. At times during “Was All Talk,” he bent his thumb over his guitar neck to assist his other fingers. Toward the middle of the set, the Violators left Vile behind with just an acoustic guitar to play softer renditions of “Snowflakes Are Dancing” and “Peeping Tomboy.” The band returned for the loudest moment of the set, “Freak Train,” played with such krautrock momentum that the song seemed unstoppable. It eventually wound down out to an end, as did the show, but for the Kurt Vile train, this thing’s just starting to pick up steam. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com

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A Dinosaur Jr. Celebration

November 30th, 2012

The three guys in the massively influential band Dinosaur Jr.—singer-guitarist J. Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph—have played together since the early ’80s. Well, that’s not exactly true. That’s when they began making music together. Barlow actually left the band following the release of Bug in 1988. Fortunately, he returned to the fold in 2005. The trio has since released three more albums, including this year’s well-received I Bet on Sky. But back in 1987, they put out their seminal album, the grunge masterpiece You’re Living All Over Me, filled with stellar songwriting, loud guitars and a healthy dose of feedback. And to celebrate the album’s 25th anniversary, Dinosaur Jr. (above, doing “Little Fury Things,” for KEXP FM) will play two sets tomorrow night at Terminal 5: one with the LP done in its entirety and a second with a group of special guests—including Kim Gordon, Johnny Marr, Al Cisneros and Kurt Vile. This is one you won’t want to miss.