Artist Profile: Kurt Vile

No…that’s not Weird Al Yankovich. This gentleman has plenty of musical talent and all of his work is original, no food-based parodies to be found. His name is Kurt Vile, a rocker from Philly who used to be a member of the indie group The War on Drugs. I’m not typically a big fan of the more down-tempo solo acts that are out there, but Kurt has this ability to create catchy vocals and use of his rich, signature vocals  has always had me interested in his work.

The first song I’ve posted is one of Kurt’s more recent releases. “Never Run Away” is an easy listen and features some features some intriguing vocals and lyrics. The instrumentals have been revamped from the original release and sound great as well. A notable part for in this song track  is the keyboards @0:49 (definitely a break from the usual for Kurt). A great introduction if you’ve never heard from this artist before.

Up next is “In My Time”. It was actually the first Kurt Vile song that I ever heard. It’s a progressive, straight from the heart kind of song. Extremely well written is how I would describe it.  My only complaint is that the solos are too short. The song starts to fade out at the beginning o f the 2nd guitar solo (which is probably my favorite part).  The first one comes in @ 1:36. Fabulous song overall, see what you think.

“Jesus Fever” is another song I’ve recently gotten into. It’s off the same album as “In My Time”, Smoke Ring For My Halo. The guitar is exceptional in this piece. The song goes in a different direction than most of Vile’s work but has a carefree, hip mood to it. The lyrics appear to describe someone who’s beyond saving. Sad outlook, indeed, but it does make for a good track.

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What I’m Listening To…

The following three songs I’ve posted differ vastly from each other. As long as you enjoy one of them, then I have accomplished my mission of showing you a new group/sub-genre that you may not have heard before. Let’s get into it!

This first song is classic shoe-gaze; not classic in that it’s old, more that it has a vintage shoe-gaze sound that enthusiasts of that type of music have come to appreciate. It’s called “Lunar Phobia” off No Joy’s recent album Wait To Pleasure. If you’re not familiar with No Joy and like music that has an ambient feel to it, you need to change that. There’s just a duo of Canadian ladies who write good music and put on a hell of a show. “Lunar Phobia” is a trip, no doubt. I mostly like the song for the vocals (completely lax but they sound amazing) but everything else that compromises it helps to give it that complete chill feel. My only beef with that song is that I wish they’d drop that twangy effect that occurs @0:16 and many times after. I can see how it complements the song but that doesn’t mean I have to like it! This band kicks ass, give them a look.

Watch out for these girls…bonus track here

No-Joy

Now onto one of my favorite bands of ALL TIME…Deerhunter. Their latest album, Monomania, just came out last month. I’ve listened to it a couple of times; they definitely accomplished their goal of creating a gritty, post-punk sound for most of the album, assuming that was what they were going for. Some of it isn’t as listenable as their previous work. This album is meant to be listened to in its entirety and the complete body of work is what should be focused on when critiquing it. Unfortunately, I can’t do that here in this post so I’m just gonna pick the song I like best, “Back to the Middle”. All kidding aside, it’s a great song to ease you into the album. The title track “Monomania” is also a wonderful track but takes a few listens and isn’t as approachable. What makes “Back to the Middle” a winner is the choppy guitar that kicks it off and the subsequent guitar solo that occurs  @1:15. Bradford Cox’s lyrics about getting shafted by love are well done also. Although, I typically wouldn’t expect him to sing about heartbreak. Usually he goes for the more thought provoking material. Maybe it’s a gag. The excellent 60’s-esque keyboard that occurs during the bridge is also noteworthy (@0:31).

 The next song is “The Mess” by Kid Astray, the first Norwegian band I have highlighted on here. They have a hip new song called “The Mess” which is about some dude giving a chick the slip. I really like the bass that you get to here during the verses (@0:25 & 0:57) . It meshes well with the other instrumentals. The vocals in this song are pretty good but nothing to write home about. All in all, it’s a trendy new song unlike a lot of what is out there right now. I’ve listened to a few other songs by them and they’re pretty poppy but they still stick to their indie roots. Give them a shot and see what you think.

Artist Profile: Charli XCX

 

Charli XCX, or Charlotte Aitchinson, is not an easy artist to classify. She’s unique and very talented, no doubt. I would label her music as future pop. The best features that comprise her music would be plentiful synths, original electronic effects, and her accent that is apparent in her vocals (easily stands out the most). I shouldn’t be surprised, she does hail from England, after all. Still, many foreign artists are not distinguishable from their American counterparts just going off of their vocals. Although she’s very physically attractive as it is, her thick accent adds even more to her appeal (Lily Allen also has this quality). If you’re into this sampling of her music, her latest album, True Romance, is definitely worth a look.

The first song posted is simply titled “You-Ha Ha Ha”. It’s one of her more played tracks and serves as a great intro to her work. You’re immediately introduced to some of the trendy effects that exemplify her music. One staple of her music is her vocal style differing a lot within the same song. In this song, she mainly sticks to singing melodically along with a monologue @ 2:13. My favorite part is the bridge at 0:28 and the subsequent lyrics “Cause I know you struggle, Choke when you see love grow.” The chorus is actually the weak point for me due to the lyrics that lack a message, she does pull off the “Ha, Ha, Ha” in it rather nicely, though.

I can’t get enough of this next song. It’s called “Nuclear Seasons”. She has taken upon herself to compare her troublesome relationship to nuclear warfare…I like it! You may have to listen closely or look up her lyrics to see this as her accent and vocal style lead to her pronouncing some of words/phrases quite hastily. It sounds great, however, and when you pair that with very creative vocal effect that accompanies the chorus (@ 0:56), you have the makings of a dream-pop masterpiece. The music video also deserves some recognition, her jerky and disjointed dance moves combined with all the visual effects are a refreshing change of pace from this garbage like this.

“What I Like” is perhaps the most experimental track of the three I have posted. It features a few different styles of Charli XXC’s vocals. She goes from fast paced with repetitive lyrics that kind of sounds like rapping, to a cool, monotone style which carries the mood of I don’t give a fuck, and also features her singing melodically. After a fast paced intro, the track slows down significantly and has plenty of hooks. It’s more relaxed than some of her other work and does not require much thought in order to enjoy. The lyrics are hokey but don’t get in the way of it being a good song…just enjoy it for what it is.

If I didn’t recognize her, I’d be scared that she was a back-up dancer for Olivia Newton John and a “Physical” video was gonna break out

 

Quick Hitters: Let’s get sophisticated-like

Simple is a term that describes me well. That said, my taste in music usually isn’t. I can definitely appreciate a track that is not straight forward and more intricate in nature. It is artists like the ones below thinking outside of the box that provides many hours of musical enlightenment that you can’t get out of mainstream music. This post concentrates on a more sophisticated breed of music. Don’t be fooled by that word, however, it is still music that can be enjoyed by ANYONE and not just people like this guy…

Plaid, stripes, solids...I have it all covered in this one outfit...no big deal

Plaid, stripes, solids…I have it all covered in this one outfit…no big deal

 

The music is a little more darker, slower paced,  and complex; and because of that, it doesn’t get much radio play. However, I’m happy to introduce you to some of my favorites of this sub genre. The first is by The xx, a group that hails from England. Their music is about as mellow as it gets. You’re never going to hear any lyrics screamed by this group, their down-tempo lyrics are one of their trademarks. The song I’ve posted is “Infinity”. It’s a song that was under-loved off of their self-titled debut album. Some are probably familiar with “Crystalized” or my personal favorite “Islands” off that same album, along with the super catchy lyric-less “Intro” (a great build up song similar to the Chicago Bulls starting lineup intro). The song features Romy Madly Croft’s always pleasant vocals and a powerful guitar solo @ 1:33.

Massive attack is a project that has held together well over the long haul. They’ve been together over 20 years and produced several albums that have paved the way for other electronic acts. They’ve produced some soundtracks and had a number of their singles used for movies (my personal favorite from a famous Guy Ritchie film) I’d put them with Sonic Youth in terms of being ahead of their time and not being afraid to be experimental with their craft. For about every one Massive Attack song that some people know, there’s about 3 or 4 great ones that no one knows about. “Small Time Shot Away” is one of those. The catchy, tone differing intro hooks you in quickly and the calming yet digitally enhanced vocals almost take you to another place. Simply put, it’s an electronic masterpiece and a chill-out song to end all chill-out songs. I would suggest sitting down and zoning out to this at the end of the day.

This last song I’m posting is by a newer group that I am unfamiliar with. I first heard them on the David Letterman show. Their band name is not the slightest bit ordinary: Ms Mr. Whether that’s a play on words or simply providing the titles of the two band members; it’s a name that’s never been done before. Ms Mr. is out of New York and provides a musical complexity with some exceptional vocal range by from band member Lizzy Plapinger. “Hurricane” has gathered the most buzz due to the vintage chillwave mood that Plapinger and fellow group member Max Hershenow are able to create. The highlights of the song occur during the breakdown portion before the chorus @ 0:35 and the soulful vocals of Plapinger during the chorus and the more melodic backing vocals that start @ 2:41. Once again, a song that can take you to another place.