Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Not that I exactly want to be found in agreement with Tom Lax, but sometimes I guess I'll just have to swallow my pride in pretty much the same fashion Tom and alotta other haute amerindie types out there are swallowing things a lot worse. But shee-yucks if this recent release from Gulcher just ain't the thing that can bring two opposites together, at least on a certain neutral-corner aesthetic level...y'see, Kurt Vile's the latest in a long line of classic do-it-yourself cranksters and this Philadelphi sure laid a good one for us with this, his debut CD (tho FWIW he did appear on some single sides prior to this that may or may not be worth the time and effort to seek out). Anyhow, CONSTANT HITMAKER's a release that sure seems to have everything good goin' for it from the boffo low-fidelity sound that comes off as if it were recorded in the same studio the Jaynetts used to the smart writing and performing abilities of Vile, who certainly does rank as a top-notch "singer-songwriter" in the best CREEM-sense possible (see Byron Coley's article on the Flesheaters, "Chris D's Carnal Knowledge" in the NEW YORK ROCKER, one of those circa '81 issues right after A MINUTE TO PRAY's release) and the results are sure good enough to have me zoning back to 1987 and the feeling I had coming across a good self-produced indie cassette for once in a blue moon!

It really ain't that hard to describe the Vile sound if you get all the extraneous loose ends tied up that is. Def. a hefty load of eighties underground rockage is in store, particularly that of the ever-popular "cassette culture" variety that magazines like OP used to praise to the rafters, yet the music itself has roots in the seventies underground clank that seemed to also be going on around the same time that the punk rockers were tearin' up the place and an overflow from their audience began patronizing such interesting self-mades as Brian Sands and Alex Chilton. And yeah, I can hear echoes of both of these late-seventies via mid-sixties wunderbrats, as well as everything from Mark Beer, Brian Eno (particularly in the way the instruments don't always seem to sound like they're supposed to) and even such sixties flashes as Tim Buckley and Donovan to a certain strange extent, but thankfully it all makes more sense than I would've given anyone credit for in a pretty long time and I'm sure you will agree with me too.

Don't go 'round thinkin' that Kurt Vile's another twinkie on the snoozeville express, because he proves himself to be every bit the master of smart-pop on this platter not only with his folk-rock stomp that seems to swish between Southern Californian and En Why See with a few stops in Merrie Olde, but with some rather interesting lyrics that would be a hoot if I could only make more of 'em out! (But what I could understand was mighty intriguing to say the least Lester Bangs would have sat up and taken notice!!!) Put 'em all together and you got a pretty good contender for hot pop plunk of the year, a rec that I woulda thought was gonna be decadence personified (thanks to the Siltbreeze crowd's "involvement") but comes off as the bestest surprise fun disc comin' outta nowhere to grace my ears since...Home Blitz???

And as far as CONSTANT HITMAKER's mere existence goes...well, who woulda even conceived that things like guys making their own recordings in what sounds like the knottiest pine basement extant could ever have materialized here in 2008? That is, without the resultant stew sounding like the utter narcissic crap that these projects usually end up as. Yes, judging from this one Vile is "Philly's constant hitmaker" and if you feel brave enough you can order this disque straight from Gulcher or even Slippytown since I'm sure Eddie has a bunch he needs to unload. Volcanie Tongue's stockin' 'em in case any of you furriners are interested. And if you're feeling extra randy how about contacting Vile himself to see what all the fuss is about! I'm sure he'll thank you for it.

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