Kurt Vile’s “Wakin On A Pretty Daze”

By now even Devendra Banhart’s cut his hair, and the notion of a long-haired Philadelphian playing updated folk music with a Crazy Horse spine could, to those who know well the falsely named City of Brotherly Love, boggle the mind.  Yet on Wakin On A Pretty Daze, Kurt Vile actually surpasses the excellence of 2011’s Smoke Ring For My Halo.  That album haunted us through the winter of ’11-’12, as we played it so much we don’t think we ever could listen to the whole thing again; one note and it seems like the days are short, the sun is weak, and a cold wind blows.  Wakin On A Pretty Daze arrives as the days are longer, the sunshine warmer, and even the album cover is in bright saturated color, which pretty much summarizes how we now receive it.

The advance word was that he started the album with a nine-minute plus song, and we braced ourselves, but the title track ambles along faster than the flow of the Susquehanna on a spring morning, and before you know it, the band is chugging along on “KV Crimes,” which has chunky Neil Young guitar and a genuine backbeat.  We can talk about singers with limited ranges, and it’s not like Vile’s voice lacks a pleasant tone, but it is true that a histogram would show all the notes right in the middle, his mumbling delivery the same whether the song is an acoustic rambler or something with a bit more grit. There’s some filler here, but there are enough highlights — check out “Shame Chamber” or “Air Bud” — that we expect we’ll wear out the hard drive of our iPad listening to this one, too.  Only rather than conjuring bleakness and winter’s despair, Kurt Vile has produced a bright and pretty album of songs you’d even play for the neighbors.

2 Responses to “Kurt Vile’s “Wakin On A Pretty Daze””

  1. Great review! It is an excellent album. I haven’t heard Smoke Ring for My Halo in its entirety, but I will need to listen and compare.

    Very well written, nice work.

  2. […] great Neil Young albums I’d listened to very loud while driving around on a hot summer day. Go read Tulip Frenzy for a review. Key tracks are the title track and “Snowflakes are […]

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