The Bowery Presents
Kurt Vile and the Violators

Kurt Vile and the Violators

Widowspeak, The Young

Fri, November 11, 2011

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

Webster Hall

New York, NY

$17 advance / $20 day of show

This event is 18 and over

Kurt Vile and the Violators
Kurt Vile and the Violators
Having been the subject and willing conspirator of many intentional lies planted in Sonic Youth bios over the years, I know first hand the way album lore can bend reality to its truth. After the infamous Byron Coley originated the SY “Trilogy” myth in the Murray Street bio, we had no choice but to fulfill those expectations with Sonic Nurse. “Why did you decide to make a trilogy?” was always the first question asked in interviews around that time.

But this is Kurt Vile’s bio, and I wont do that to him. Anyway, Kurt does his own myth making; a boy/man with an old soul voice in the age of digital everything becoming something else, which is why this focused, brilliantly clear and seemingly candid record is a breath of fresh air. Recorded and mixed in a number of locations, including Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, b’lieve i’m goin down… is a handshake across the country, east to west coast, thru the dustbowl history (“valley of ashes”) of woody honest strait forward talk guthrie, and a cali canyon dead still nite floating in a nearly waterless landscape. The record is all air, weightless, bodyless, but grounded in convincing authenticity, in the best version of singer songwriter upcycling. In Kurt’s words, “I wanted to get back into the habit of writing a sad song on my couch, with nobody waiting on me. I really wanted it to sound like it’s on my couch — not in a lo-fi way, just more unguarded and vulnerable.”

For a record that plays like a cohesive acoustic experience, its musicality marks Kurt’s departure from an electric guitar experience to include a range of instrumentation with a large group of players. From the banjo he plays on “I’m an Outlaw” to the piano and lapsteel on “Life Like This,” and the myriad other instruments on other songs, including farfisa, resonator, arps, horns and synth, one never thinks about what exactly yr listening to as it all serves the song.

The heart of the record is “Stand Inside.” The music is quiet and the melody, like a hymn, folds in on itself, and embraces full strength in a sexy, floating forcelessness that slowly gathers into a wave that doesn’t go where you think it will or rather gives in to itself and celebrates a man willing to be defined by a woman and his love for her as witness to each other’s lives… Don’t stand by my side, stand inside gives up roleplaying for true exposure and vulnerability.

It’s a weird, accepting, mature record, acknowledging the inherent immaturity of being a person whether father, husband, partner, adult, musician, not perfect, but compelling for its understanding … that’s life though so sad to say… I love this record,

b’lieve i’m goin down.

Kim Gordon
Widowspeak
Widowspeak
Widowspeak remain purveyors of mood. Whether painting an image of a basement apartment with blinds closed or conjuring the sweeping openness of a desert, they’re an outfit ever preoccupied with the influence of place and the passage of time on personal experience: the way vivid memories can feel like movies or dreams.

On their newest album for Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks, Widowspeak use familiar aesthetics as a narrative device, a purposeful nostalgic backdrop for songs that ask, “How did we get here?” Sonically, they exist somewhere in the overlap between somber indie rock, dream pop, slow-core and their own invented genre, “cowboy grunge.” At the heart of the band, there is a palpable duality, a push and pull between the delicate and the deliberate: the contrast of lead singer-songwriter Molly Hamilton’s strikingly beautiful voice and poignant melodies with the terrestrial reality of being a four-piece rock band. These songs sound like the dark bars and rock clubs they were imagined for just as much as the bedrooms where they were written. Expect the Best sees Widowspeak finding their greatest balance between opposing forces: darkness and light, quiet and loud, tension and calm.

The album was written while Hamilton was living in Tacoma, Washington after previous stints in upstate New York and Brooklyn. So much moving around, and specifically a move back to the place she grew up, was the catalyst for a record concerned with self-examination and the sense of dread that comes from feeling adrift (“Dog”). Whether navigating the anxieties of social media and self-preservation in the digital age (“Expect the Best”), struggling to maintain motivation (“When I Tried”), or critiquing western-centric wanderlust and aspiration (“The Dream”), the songs here recognize that there’s no going back in time. Hamilton’s lyrics explore the space between regret and anticipation, reconciling the desire to dwell with a need to “expect the best,” even as the best seems unlikely.

“In the past I’ve felt compelled to write songs that are more optimistic than I’m actually feeling, as if I could make it true, as if everything in the past was significant or beautiful in a way, even if it was painful. But the truth is that not everything makes sense, and not every day of your life is an experience of clear cut emotional clarity,” says Hamilton. “I struggle with this compulsion to pull away from people, pull away from the things I enjoy doing, and sometimes literally picking up and moving away when I am feeling uneasy and anxious about my future in a given space, physical or mental. Social media these days can exacerbate that as well.”

Although Widowspeak’s last two records — Almanac (2013) and All Yours (2015) — were conceived as a duo with lead guitarist Robert Earl Thomas, Expect the Best finds them playing to the specific strengths of the current touring incarnation (James Jano on drums, Willy Muse on bass). The album, recorded by Kevin MacMahon (Swans, Real Estate), exhibits a marked increase in energy that reflects the band’s live show and the organic way it was created: by four people in a room together. The band collectively navigate dynamic changes with subtlety and restraint; the nine tracks here reach highs of wide-eyed lushness and plumb the depths of resigned melancholy. Their usual palette of dusty guitars and angular twang are still here front and center, but now with a bit more 90s homage, even if abstractly. The Pacific Northwest influences creep in throughout, as do varying flavors of New York’s legacy, the city the band still partially calls home. It’s their heaviest record to date, but never loses the sense of quiet intimacy that Widowspeak is known for.
The Young
The Young
When we last heard from Austin, Texas' The Young, the quartet was livin’ free and their album Dub

Egg was the sunshine-fuzz hit of the year in more enlightened households worldwide. Flash

forward two years and it seems the bill is due, in a big way as Chrome Cactus is a far darker version

of The Young. The breezy optimism of their earlier albums has been switched out for sinister,

creeping dread in both lyrics and music, and the instrumentation is far sharper as well. The rhythm

section of drummer Ryan Maloney and new bassist Lucas Wedow lay down a heavy (though nimble

where they need to be) foundation for the already formidable guitar interplay of Hans Zimmerman

and Kyle Edwards. Finding two guitarists with a penchant for such skillful, intuitive interplay is

tough enough, but Chrome Cactus is the moment where Zimmerman's vocal delivery & way around

a tune has caught up with The Young's instrumental prowess.

Expertly produced by fellow sonic assassin Tim Green (Nation of Ulysses, The Fucking Champs,

Thee Evolution Revolution etc.) at the new Louder studios located in the foothills of the Sierra

Nevada Mountains in Grass Valley CA, Chrome Cactus aurally denies the idyllic setting that it was

recorded in. From the undeniable riff of album opener “Metal Flake” to the squalls of feedback

in “Blow The Scum Away” that end the record, you’ll be hard pressed to find an album that both

reinforces and revitalizes everything that is great about American Rock Music in 2014.

Taking influence from a myriad of artists such as (early) ZZ Top, Dead Moon, Link Wray, Lungfish

and pedal-stompers worldwide, Chrome Cactus is a huge ball of power and controlled feedback

disguised as ten of the catchiest songs you’ll hear this or any other year.
Venue Information:
Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street
New York, NY, 10003
http://www.websterhall.com/