Philly songsmith Kurt Vile is eternally in motion. Along with a second summer of heavy touring behind his monumental 2013 double album Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze - which has him playing the Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center in York on May 31st and the Mann Center for the Performing Arts with Nick Cave on July 25th, as well as numerous summer festivals – Vile is out covering Neil Young, hopefully working on new material, and sitting down with famed author and social critic Bret Easton Ellis for his weekly podcast, released yesterday.
A literary darling of the 1980s best known for his works American Psycho, Less than Zero and Glamorama, Ellis is somebody incredibly attuned to pop culture, but at the same time he seems refreshingly new to Vile’s discography. He admits to Vile in their casual and freewheeling conversation that he only came to his music on Smoke Ring for My Halo and Daze, and began working his way back from there. As a result, some of the things they discuss (Kurt comes from a big family, his dad worked on a train, his first music was written while working as a forklift operator in Boston) treads sort of familiar territory. But the meat and potatoes of the conversation comes from their philosophical asides, conversations on movies, the nature of stardom and the role of the music in contemporary culture. Ellis leads into the conversation with Kurt by describing himself as a listener who prefers hearing an album as an entire body of work – in contrast to his more singles-oriented boyfirend – and holds up Daze and an exemplary front-to back album crafted tremendously by “a surprisingly accomplished” musician.
Take a listen to the podcast below – the segment with Kurt begins at around 13 minutes. Get tickets and information on the shows in York and at the Mann by consulting the XPN Concert Calendar.
Philly based punk band The Menzingers have a new album, Rented World, due out April 22 via Epitaph records, and as of today you can stream the album in its entirety over at Spin.com. For the new record, the band worked at Miner Street studios in Fishtown with the help of engineer Jonathan Low, who has worked with countless Philly luminaries from Restorations to Kurt Vile.
You can pre-order the album Rented World before its April 22 release here. Catch the Menzingers live when they return to Philly May 31 at Union Transfer. Find tickets for that show here. Stream opening track “I Don’t Want to Be An Asshole Anymore” below, and listen to Rented World in its entirety here.
With lush brushstrokes of rock, pop and punk, Warpaint took command of a sold-out Union Transfer on Saturday. The Los Angeles four-piece were performing in support of their 2014 self-titled second LP and had the Philly crowd swaying, cheering and even crowd-surfing.
Driven by a heady mix of vocals that often played second fiddle to guitar and percussion, the four women of Warpaint transfixed the audience. Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman traded lead vocals and guitars while Jenny Lee Lindberg’s bass and backing vocals and the drumming of Stella Mozgawa round out the sound. Kokal and her snakelike dancing mixed with the deep red and blue lights dominated the visual pow of the show. And from the masterful tack “Undertow” from their first album The Fool, which was neatly nestled in the 14-song setlist, to the main set closer “Disco//Very,” Warpaint were having a love affair with the Philly crowd.
A long encore break was broken by the special guest appearance of Kurt Vile, sheepishly hiding at the drumkit, to sing with Kokal on the song “Baby” — a highlight among many for the night, as Warpaint concluded with “Bees” and “Elephants.” Never short on atmospherics and visual panache, Warpaint conquered the City of Brotherly Love for what will certainly not be the last time.
Now that someone has created a tumblr around it, you can’t help but notice the resemblance between teenage pop star Lorde and Philly indie rock star Kurt Vile. At least that’s the point trying to be made in a new tumblr: Lorde or Kurt Vile?. For these seemingly disparate musicians, what connects them (on the surface, anyway) is their their long, flowing black hair, their stylish dark sunglasses and their similar expressive ways. #loxofluv, indeed. Do they look alike? You decide. Check out the tumblr here.
Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, Key contributor Julie Miller shares her favorite video sessions of the year.
Live session videos are great because they give the musician a chance to experiment with their music and perform it in an unusual setting or surprising way. From Out of Town Films to La Blogotechque’s Take Away Shows, there are more and more series popping up each year that put unique spins on the music video art-form. These are five of my favorite live session videos of 2013:
1. Radiator Hospital – “Our Song” Piss Couch Session, filmed by Maggot House Records. This is one of the most honest break-up songs since Bob Dylan’s demo recording of “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” and the guys over at Maggot House got an incredibly intimate and vulnerable recording of it. Sam Cook-Parrott released a studio version of the song on his Something WildLP a few months after the filming but this version is still my favorite.
In September 2010, we started The Key because we wanted to offer the local music scene another platform to reach more audiences. We also started it because starting in the early aughts we noticed something happening here creatively amongst the local music scene that was hadn’t felt in a while – it was growing creatively and the buzz about how good the local scene was becoming more significant.
More new bands were starting than ever before, more music was becoming available for fans and more musicians were looking for ways to connect to fans. To me, the last five years of “the scene” reminds me a lot of the Philly music scene in the mid-Eighties to early Nineties when bands like Electric Love Muffin, Three Times Dope, The Wishniaks, Nixon’s Head, the Goats, the Dead Milkmen, Schoolly D, The Low Road, The Hooters, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, and Tommy Conwell all represented for Philly on both local and international stages. We thought Philly 2012 was a banner year for the local music scene. Guess what? 2013 was even better. Here are some of the best things about the Philly music scene in 2013.
Below, listen “Jamaica Plain,” the title song from the forthcoming EP by Kurt Vile and Robert Robinson of Sore Eros. Robinson, who shares the same birthday with Vile, is a past member of The Violators and has toured in Ariel Pink’s band. The EP’s title song takes its name from the Boston town in Massachusetts where it was recorded and where Vile once lived. The song is a gorgeous, contemplative, acoustically rich, with hints of ambient synths. The EP is being released on Care In The Community on vinyl and digitally on November 4th. Listen to another song from the EP, “Serum,” here.
This past weekend, Philly’s Kurt Vile and his band The Violators returned home to Philly for their second headlining show of 2013 at Union Transfer. It’s been a landmark year for Vile, from the spring release of his LPWakin’ on a Pretty Daze to the international acclaim and touring that followed, to being honored locally with the Liberty Bell Award on the city’s inaugural Kurt Vile Day in August. Next month, an expanded edition of Daze will be released along with the companion EPIt’s a Big World Out There and I’m Scared. Get information on the release here, check out photos and a review of Vile’s previous Union Transfer show here, and see photos from this past weekend in the gallery below.
This week’s Key Studio Session featured local storytellers Northern Arms. Fittingly for the season, the ten-piece band creates dark and haunting songs in the form of narrative vignettes like “Warm Springs Georgia “below. Stream and download the track, then check out the full session here.
Singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt stopped by recently for a Folkadelphia Session. The San Francisco native released her debut LP earlier this year somewhat out of the blue and without much explanation, adding to the already mysterious nature of her music. For this session, Pratt recorded songs that did not appear on the LP. Stream and download the full set below.