By

Courtney Barnett debuts her new album, jams with Kurt Vile in epic Union Transfer show

Courtney Barnett | photo by Natalie Piserchio | nataliepiserchio.com

Courtney Barnett played a lively, jam-packed 90-minute set on Wednesday night to a sold out Union Transfer, showcasing her entire new album Tell Me How You Really Feel, as well as older hits like “Avant Gardener” and “Pedestrian at Best,” and a surprise guest performance with Philadelphia native Kurt Vile.

Barnett is on the last leg of their mini US tour with Bones Sloane on bass, Katie Harkin leading on guitar and keys, and drummer Dave Mudie, debuting her new album, out Friday on Barnett’s Milk! Records, Mom + Pop and Marathon Artists.

Barnett started their Philly set with Hopefulessness, and quickly after said, “We’re gonna play our new album. It comes out tomorrow, I think? What day of the week is it?”, with her classic bed-head charm. The band played an energetic “City Looks Pretty,” “Charity,” and “Nameless, Faceless,” along with more subdued songs from the album like “Need A Little Time,” and “Sunday Roast.” Continue reading →

By

John Prine’s New Prime Time: Veteran troubadour holds court with Kurt Vile at the Merriam Theater

John Prine | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

There are not many of the old original issue John Prines left; that breed of craggy, earnest-but-dryly humorous storyteller-troubadour with Midwestern roots running as deep as ancient maples and ruminations of lives past that are equally old and pulsing and grainy. As a songwriter who poised his characters in a constant state of distress, distaste, wry sly circumstance, or even love with an historic downhome perspective, Prine was (and is, from the sound and furry of his first album in 13 years, The Tree of Forgiveness) a treasure. Add in his usual mix of rough-hewn country and folk with hints of soul and rockabilly, and you’re cooking with gas. Prine’s gruff and ready expressive voice is but icing on a savory confection. And now, Prine – still a mailman at heart, always a contemporary to elders such as Kris Kristofferson, Steve Goodman and Jackson Browne – has hollowed out a new niche as a godfather to the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Brandi Carlisle, and as a man who outran death (two cancers) and the age’s usual ravages to find himself comfortably humble (and hummable).

In a sold out performance at the Merriam Theater, Prine, his crack musical team (including multi-string man Fats Kaplin), and opening act/occasional on-stage collaborator Kurt Vile, formed a circle around material that was bruised, even busted, but never completely broken down and out for the count. Continue reading →

By

Yo La Tengo brings two sets, a spectrum of tones and a jam with Kurt Vile to Union Transfer

Yo La Tengo with Kurt Vile | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

You have to love a band that’s not so jaded, after being at it for over thirty years, to come out to their own merch table after a two-hour show to meet their fans. Yo La Tengo‘s Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley did just that on Saturday night, mingling with the last of their most devout devotees to finally drag themselves out of Union Transfer close to midnight, earnestly and charmingly thanking those who came out to the sold-out event and signing everything from free copies of a crossword puzzle Kaplan drafted, to fancy limited-edition orange vinyl copies of the new studio album There’s A Riot Goin’ On which they’re touring to support. Continue reading →

By

Watch Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile star in a doc about the Loew’s Jersey Theater

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile | photo by Natalie Piserchio for WXPN | nataliepiserchio.com

The Loew’s Jersey Theatre is a vintage movie palace that is seeing new life after almost 90 years. It opened in 1929 in Jersey City and, like many theaters of its kind, fell into disrepair in the 70s as moviegoing trended towards the homogeneous corporate multiplex space we know today. Thankfully, the Loew’s has a community around it dedicated to refurbishing it and making it into an arts space for a new century, hosting film screenings, theater and live music — including a stop on Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile‘s Lotta Sea Lice tour.

That concert is the setting for a documentary produced by WeTransfer and released today on YouTube showcasing the gig, yes, but also the people behind the scenes that make the theater work. We meet Paul Citti, a dapper organist who coaxes massive, eerie sounds out of the theater’s pipe organ. (Vile gets a lesson from him after soundcheck, and applauds with a huge smile after hearing some unearthly horror score tones.)  We meet Pattie Gordan, president of restoration group Friends of the Loew’s, and promoter Todd Abramson, who’s been bringing indie rock to the Loew’s stage since booking a Bright Eyes show in the early aughts. And we meet Dave Vanderheyden, the venue’s sound engineer who chats with the film crew while soldering an imposing section of an old analog mixing console.

And at the center, of course, is Barnett and Vile.  Continue reading →

By

Just Announced: John Prine will be joined by Kurt Vile at Merriam Theater this April

John Prine | photo by John Kurc | courtesy of artist

Not only will legend John Prine grace the Merriam Theater this spring, he’ll also bring Philly hero Kurt Vile along for the wise ‘n folky party on April 14th.

This year, Prine released a songbook titled John Prine Beyond Words through his own independent label, Oh Boy Records, which featured selected songs from Prine’s catalogue and the stories behind them. Kurt Vile has been rocking his incredible tour with Courtney Barnett, which recently brought an intimate-feeling gig to Philly at Tower Theatre. Continue reading →

By

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile bring living room intimacy to the Tower Theater

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile | photo by Natalie Piserchio for WXPN | nataliepiserchio.com

From the moment it was first announced, there’s been something tremendously appealing about this team-up. Kurt Vile, Philly’s humble hometown guitar hero, and the wry Melburnian riffster Courtney Barnett are two of indie rock’s most beloved, affable slackers, and the notion of the two of them palling around, goofing off and trading drawled vocals and casually sublime guitar licks was worth a bucket of grins. So it is with Lotta Sea Lice, the duo’s goofily-named, pointedly low-stakes collaborative LP, out last month, which, if hardly revolutionary in any respect, is just so abundantly pleasant. And so it was with their sold out Philly date last Friday night: just a couple of friends giving the kind of amiably understated performance that can make a majestic, storied venue like the Tower Theater feel like a big, cozy living room. Continue reading →

By

Warm up for Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile’s show at The Tower with their Colbert performance

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile | photo by Danny Cohen | courtesy of the artist

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile, the passion project that seems to be taking the world by storm, appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night to perform “Over Everything” off of their album Lotta Sea Lice. The countrified, conversational duet with intricately picked guitars, swaying drums, and melancholic keyboard encapsulates the feel of the duo’s first album together.

While Vile has said, “It’ll be an intercontinental country duo for the ages, (minus the country),” it’s almost impossible to disassociate the genre from their sound. Their voices naturally carry that country-blues tone, paired with the back-and-forth vocal style of many other country duets. It’s in the backing soundscape that seems more alternative where the band can distance themselves from becoming too much of a country band. Continue reading →

By

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile take Lotta Sea Lice to the seaside for Pitchfork Live

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile | photo by Danny Cohen | courtesy of the artist

The powerhouse collab that is Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile released their album Lotta Sea Lice earlier this month, and now we can watch a live performance of the duo’s chill and laid-back songs right where they belong — by the seaside. Hometown favorite Vile and Melbourne, Australia’s Barnett teamed up with Pitchfork Live to record a full 50-minute set comprised of their collaborative songs from the new album and some of each artist’s own solo work. Continue reading →

By

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile provide comfort and compassion with their new single, “Continental Breakfast”

 

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile | photo by Danny Cohen | courtesy of the artist

Indie singer-songwriter heavyweights Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile have returned with another teaser of their upcoming collaborative album, Lotta Sea Lice, coming out October 13th. The new “Continental Breakfast” is a worthy follow-up to Barnett and Vile’s lead single “Over Everything”; their vocal chemistry is great and they exhibit an ability to mix back and forth lyrical dialogue with seamless harmony-based choruses. Both artists have established themselves as two of the more influential songwriters in the indie rock scene, so this album is shaping up to be a tour de force. Continue reading →

By

Listen to Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile’s album opener “Over Everything”

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile’s Lotta Sea Live

After sharing album details in Rolling Stone interview yesterday, Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile unveiled the opening track to their collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice, out October 13th. It sounds like the perfect synthesis of the two songwriters’ styles — drifting and dreamy guitars and lackadasically cool vocals trading lyrics in a call-and-response style. You can check it out in premiere from Zane Lowe’s Beats One Radio show below — the song begins at the three-minute mark, but it’s adjoined by some pretty informative interviews with Vile and Barnett on either side. Continue reading →