Dr. Perry Alexander

The University of Kansas

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Walkin' On a Pretty Daze - Kurt Vile

You’d think that with a name like Vile, Kurt Vile would be the front man for very angry punk band. Not so. Definitely not so. This is my second album by Kurt Vile and both are consistently outstanding rock albums in a similar vein as Josh Rouse with a bit more edge.

The sort-of title track, Wakin On a Pretty Day is a wonderful 9 minute song that is both quiet and powerful. (I say sort-of as the album title uses Daze instead of Day, something I found confusing initially.) This is where I am most reminded of Rouse - a very positive comparison from me. It’s not common to hear a 9 minute pop tune. I imagine that precludes any notion of radio play, but this is kind of a pop mini-symphony and well worth your time. Imagine a nice stroll on a warm, quiet summer day with an Allman Brothers jam on and you’ve got the feel for this song.

KV Crimes takes the electric up, but not the tempo. Take away the Josh Rouse and substitute a bit of Nirvana and you get the idea. But Was All Talk takes us to Dire Straits in a nice way. Add some haze, up the tempo, add that indie style voice and you have a wonderful uptempo rock tune. The distinction from KV Crimes makes for a nice juxtaposition and definitely improves the effect. Girl Called Alex once again channels Mark Knopfler with nice reverb and a layer of gauze between the listener and the raw sounds of the guitar and voice.

It’s pretty clear Kurt Vile wants to play his guitar and sing and that’s about it. There are radio tunes all over this album, but he chooses to milk them for all they’re worth rather than for the requisite 3 minutes. I’ll be playing this one quite a bit. I don’t know if it will occupy the rarified space that, say, Nashville does, but it is definitely one of my favorites this year from an unexpected place.