Kurt Vile’s ethereal brand of psychedelic folk rock is, quite obviously, not easy to describe.
From layers of entrancing guitars to spacey synthesizers to unpredictable, Jim Morrison-esque vocals, the long-haired Philadelphia-born musician incorporates a seemingly endless array of elements into every song.
His latest album, Childish Prodigy, released last fall on Matador Records, contains both deep acoustic cuts, as well as frenzied, heavy rock grooves. On “Overnight Religion,” pulsing, rhythm acoustic guitars float behind mysterious echoes of vocals. “Blackberry Song” features beautifully intricate, interwoven acoustic melodies.
But it’s not all soft acoustic playing on Vile’s record. He cranks up the volume on pounding electric songs like “Hunchback” and “Monkey.” Droning harmonica blares out over a slow jungle stomp on the Zepplinish “Inside Looking Out,” on which Vile wails, “I’ve got the blues so bad.”
In 2008, Vile released his first solo LP, Constant Hitmaker, his first official release after previously producing several homemade CDs.
Before that slew of solo releases and becoming “Philly’s Constant Mitmaker,” as his MySpace tagline proclaims, Vile was the lead guitarist for the War on Drugs, a roots rock band praised highly by Rolling Stone and Paste Magazine.
Vile and his aptly named backing band, the Violators, are currently traveling on a North American tour with Toronto hardcore/punk outfit F—ed Up. They will make their lone stop in Philadelphia Wednesday night at the intimate Fishtown venue, the Barbary, before heading off to Canada for the end of the month.
Kevin Brosky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.