Archive for Kurt Vile

Tulip Frenzy 2013 Top Ten List ™ Shortlist Announced

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2013 by johnbuckley100

So we promised Magic Trick that we would wait for River Of Souls, out Tuesday, before locking the ballot box on the Tulip Frenzy 2013 Top Ten List ™.  We  will save them a spot on the shortlist, okay?  Below, in NO PARTICULAR ORDER are the bands in consideration.

At Tulip Frenzy World HQ, the horse trading, lobbying, and outright bribery are in full force.  We’ve cast a sideways glance at our competitors, and let us just say that this was one of the rare years in which we did not automatically scoff at the Uncut Top 50 list, and they did settle one thing for us:  yes, the Parquet Courts album is to be considered this year, even though it actually was released last November.  But no one listened to it until January 1, when we were all suddenly forced to grapple with a) 2013, and b) the Parquet Courts’ greatness.  But mbv as the Album of The Year?  Please, nice to have Kevin Shields back but it’s not really that good.  Still, could have been worse.

We should note that we are NOT considering the Bob Dylan 1969 Isle of Wight release, even though it finally came out this year, and even though it is simply amazing.  Why is it ruled out by the judges? Because we don’t think that’s right to knock a band in their prime out of consideration just because another incredible album fought its way out of the Dylan archives.  But here’s a pretty great set of bands/artists who will be considered:


David Bowie

Kurt Vile



Robyn Hitchcock

Parquet Courts

Thee Oh Sees

Kelley Stoltz

Magic Trick

Neko Case



Secret Colours

Kevin Morby


First Communion Afterparty

Mikal Cronin

In consideration: 18 artists.  It’s going to be a long few days of wrangling in these here parts. Stay tuned.


Kurt Vile’s “Wakin On A Pretty Daze”

Posted in Music with tags , on April 11, 2013 by johnbuckley100

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.

Woods’ “Bend Beyond” Is A Gorgeous Psyche-Folk-Garage Melange, And A Perfect Album

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on October 25, 2012 by johnbuckley100

If the slot for shimmering alterna-folk in last year’s Tulip Frenzy Top Ten List ™ had not been taken by Kurt Vile’s Smoke Ring For My Halo, then surely Woods’ Sun and Shade woulda made the cut.  An artisanal byproduct of Platonic Brooklyn, where everything is tasty and hand-crafted and somewhat left of center, Sun and Shade was like a Galaxie 500 record produced by Neil Young, punctuated with 7-minute ambient ragas.  It was pretty great, but excellent as it was, it is still a solid step below Woods’ astonishing Bend Beyond, available now in digital music stores hiding just behind your browser window.

Bend Beyond ranks in the Pantheon with Darker My Love’s Alive As You Are, John Hammond’s Southern Fried, Luna’s Penthouse, and The J. Geils Band.  You know where this is heading: yes, the declaration that Bend Beyond is a *perfect* record.  That’s right, perfect.  As we’ve commented before, perfect records are as rare as baseball pitchers’ perfect games.  (Even with that pronouncement, whether it will end up as Tulip Frenzy’s Album of the Year is not yet known, for as perfect as it may be, and it certainly is, the world has to account, and likely this year, for the greatness that is Ty Segall.  Does “World Historical” beat “perfect”?  We shall see.)

Bend Beyond does something we never even considered possible, it is an expression beyond our previously far too limited imagination, for it melds the aforementioned folk-rock marriage between Neil Young and Galaxie 500 to farfisa-lubricated garage rock with ambient traces of psychedelic fireworks exploding softly on the edge of your vision.  Somehow, like a Ben’n’Jerry’s flavor combo moved to the realm of geographic mash-ups, we have achieved this brilliant union of Brooklyn with Woodstock with Topanga Canyon sliding in muddy goo right on top of it, and the tasty output, while perhaps a mite bit lacking in carnivorous gristle, is nourishing and fine.

Go listen to “Find Them Empty” and tell me to my face that if it were slipped into a pail of nuggets taken from Lenny Kaye’s latest archaeological dig, you wouldn’t think it was the ’60s garage find o’ the year.

Tell me — we dare ye — that if you heard “Cali In A Cup” while lying outside on an autumn sunny day, headphones on while you stared at that red leaf falling from a maple tree, you wouldn’t contemplate chucking it all to go work in some Williamsburg wine bar, dedicating your evenings to reading Richard Brautigan novels.

Play “Is It Honest” loud from your Mustang while driving on Sunset Boulevard, and the remnants of the Paisley Underground would all march out with their hands up, their eyes blinking from behind Roger McGuinn half-shades.  “Hey man, what is that?”

It’s Woods’ Bend Beyond.

Like we said, a perfect album.

UPDATE: And so we find they are playing at D.C.’s Red Palace on November 2nd.  Ho ho ho. Can’t wait.

Were Brian Eno and Robert Fripp The Artists Of The Year?

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , on December 28, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Leica M9, 35mm Summilux, With Floating Element

It seems odd that so much of the music we listened to this year had one critical link in common: it made us think of Eno and Fripp.  Not in any general way, but specifically, as so many of the year’s best songs could be linked to something Eno produced with his chum long, long ago.

The pattern started early.  In January, when Wye Oak’s Civilian was released, the song we listened to the most was “The Altar” — which sounded like it was recorded about ten minutes after Fripp laid down his solo on Eno’s “St. Elmo’s Fire” on Another Green World.

We have loved albums by A.A. Bondy, Kurt Vile, and The War On Drugs — all of which seemed like they’d been recorded under the influence of, in particular, Eno and Fripp’s Evening Star.  It was as if the most familiar touchstone for ambient music was that one incredible moment when Eno and Fripp lulled away migraines with soft waves lapping from a placid sea.

Near the end of the year, we got into Atlas Sound, the highly interesting side-project by Deerhunter front man Bradford Cox.  His song “Doldrums” sounds like he just added vocals to a track laid down by his forebears.

Weird.  In a year notable for the originality of so many artists — White Denim, for example — all roads seem to lead back to Fripp and Eno.  It was as if Evening Star was the point to which all compasses were raised.

Do Kurt Vile And The War On Drugs Equal Some Philly Version Of The Elephant 6 Collective?

Posted in Music with tags , , , on December 14, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Just asking.  I mean if all the cross pollination between such bands as The Apples In Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control, and Neutral Milk Hotel make for a rock’n’roll hydra, how are we to think of The War On Drugs and their City of Brotherly Love confrere Kurt Vile, both of which put out pretty interesting 2011 albums?

What got us to thinking about this was their inclusion in the upper reaches of Uncut Magazine’s 50 Best Albums of 2011 list (which eventually they’ll post to their website, which we’ve linked to).  It was a good year for the Uncut list — no more declaring Joanna Newsom or Portishead the Artist of the Year; this time they went with the brave and quite exemplary choice of PJ Harvey.  Too often around this time, Tulip Frenzy is forced to grapple with their championship of artists we’ve completely missed, or at least discovered too late to put on our Top 10 List, such as in 2009 when we only discovered Darker My Love through their high ranking.  This year, there weren’t a lot of surprises, but their putting both The War on Drugs and Kurt Vile in the Top 20 made us give these acts, both of whom we already liked okay, a second look.

We can’ really remember the backstory, whether Adam Granduciel of TWOD played with Vile or the other way around.  We do know that just as The War On Drug’s Slave Ambient is a stronger album than their last ‘un, WagonWheel Blues, Vile’s Smoke Ring For My Halo is stronger than his earlier, and presumably equally ironically titled Constant Hitmaker.   Both albums could use someone springing Phil Spector from jail in order to give ’em an All Things Must Pass work over, as each make an attempt at a Wall of Sound, the problem being their walls are the stuff of the housing bubble, constructed of sheet rock, not granite.  Each of these bands could use a little Apple Corps money thrust upon them, and are worthy of it, or at least a production budget equal to their ambition.

Granduciel and The War On Drugs prove they have more voices than Jimmy Fallon, sounding at times like the Dylan of The Basement Tapes, Arcade Fire, even U2.  “Brothers” is one of the best songs of 2011, even if Slave Ambient, with its pockets of Fripp and Eno aether, ultimately feels a bit insubstantial.  Vile’s entire album, even though it was ranked by Uncut a few notches lower than his pals, has the grit of a recurring dream, even shrouded in low-fi sound gauze.  Yes, there are times you think you’ve listened to this movie soundtrack before — oh yeah, it was Elliott Smith adorning Good Will Hunting — but it’s better than that.  I’ve been listening to both albums constantly for the past week, and conclude that, if there were a fire, and I only had time to download one on a thumb drive, I’d take along Kurt Vile.  His album’s just that bit more haunting, magical.  But then I’d probably sneak back into the inferno to download “Brothers.”  Probably die trying. Worth it?  Time will tell.

%d bloggers like this: