EP Review: Square Shells [2010]

Artist: Kurt Vile
Release: 5/2010
Label: Matador Records

1. “Ocean City” – A-
2. “Invisibility: Non-Existent” – B
3. “Losing Momentum” – C+
4. “I Wanted Everything” – B+
5. “I Know I Got Religion” – B+
6. “The Finder” – C+
7. “Hey, Now I’m Movin” – B+

Comments: Back when I first heard of Kurt Vile in March 2009, he was a relative nobody. He had released a solo record entitled Constant Hitmaker in 2008, but that hardly got any attention until its year later reissue. Vile and his group The War on Drugs had also just put a record called Wagonwheel Blues on Secretly Canadian. Some songs on that record like “Arms Like Boulders,” “A Needle in the Eye…,” and “Taking The Farm,” really won me over and convinced me to go see the band perform at TT The Bears. They played a short, but enjoyable set featuring those songs. All ten of us in the venue (that actually paid attention) seemed to have had a decent enough time. Fast forward to…right now. Vile is signed to Matador Records, is still touring a shitload both solo (with his back-up band The Violators) and as the lead guitarist of The War on Drugs, and put out a fairly well received Matador LP Childish Prodigy later in 2009. Well, Vile is not slowing down. There’s this seven song EP that has just been released for free digitally. And, if Matador isn’t lying, another LP is due out soon enough. You, at this point, may be asking yourself if it is worth downloading the 50.5 MB MP3 folder. It’s only 50.5 MB so you might as well just give it a try anyway. The simple acoustic “Ocean City” ain’t nothing spectacular, but captivates the spirit for a little while. The dude strums heavy, by the way. Instrumental from Vile on “Losing Momentum”??? He’s too young for that. Even though it is a chill tune. Haunting vocals and an excellent rhythm section make up “I Wanted Everything.” If you are a sucker for acoustic rock that is filled with heartfelt emotion and passion then you will enjoy this. If you are someone like me that finds value in this kind of music, but isn’t easily convinced of its beauty, this may only come across as a decent/good record. There’s a slew of similar artists that excel at this craft, perhaps leaps and bounds better than Vile (perhaps not) so it really is a matter of opinion. I guess it is more apropos to mention that for this record than others — minus the instrumentals.

Grade: B (84)

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