For more than a decade, Kurt Vile has evolved into one of the leaders of the indie folk rock scene of Philadelphia into somewhat of a blue collar hero across the country. With his long and flowing locks and signature snarling and harrowing vocals, Vile's music tends to recall back to an era where more songs seemed to relate to the common working man. Now, on his latest album titled b'lieve I'm going down…, Vile is not only bringing back the voices of his idols before him; he's clearly cementing his place amongst one of today's more influential singer/songwriters.
His most eclectic album yet
Vile has long been connected with the blue collar lifestyle, mainly due to his time before music spent drifting from one low-end job to the next. But with b'lieve I'm going down..., his sixth solo album, it's evident that Vile is beginning to grow more in his songwriting ability, with many of the latest tracks reflecting on his newfound wisdom as an artist, husband and father of two daughters. Songs like the opening track "Pretty Pimpin" describe the changes Vile is noticing in himself and others as he ages, whereas humor and bleakness blend together in song lyrics such as "That's Life, tho (almost hate to say)" see him laughing off regrets.
To say that Vile has a slacker-like sensibility to him is a disservice to his music and overall work ethic. Don't take the long hair and care-free attitude too seriously; Vile has been cranking out album after album, with six EPs to go along with those six full-length albums, all released from 2008-2015. On his latest effort, Vile has never felt more comfortable and in control of his music, something that he accredits to finally getting a chance to unwind after years of relentless touring and recording sessions.
"It's the first time I've had this long of a break from touring and recording," Vile told Rolling Stone in regards to approaching his latest album. "I've developed this routine at home. I wait for the kids to go to bed, then my wife falls asleep. Then it's dark and quiet enough for me to work on songs. I just keep going later and later, until sunrise."
Getting the live experience
There's nothing like seeing Vile perform live to truly get a sense of what his music represents. His concerts are famous for long, improvised jams that recall the antics of legends such as Neil Young or Tom Petty. Verses and choruses are spaced in between ambitious solos, and intense grooves that force the listener into experiencing a rather hypnotic head nodding session.
With the release of his latest album comes another tour for Vile, with several shows already lined up for the fall and winter all over the country. For those who are longing for a retro feel that's full of passion and whimsical insight, witnessing Vile live is a performance that can't be missed.
When Claire Boucher, known to many as her moniker Grimes, first burst onto the indie-electronic music scene with her critically acclaimed 2012 album Visions, the singer and songwriter seemed prime for a mainstream radio takeover. Her catchy, synth-driven singles such as "Genesis" and "Oblivion" were the right amount of experimental and mainstream sound, and the songs and album were featured on some of music's premier blogs and publications best music lists. Now, with a new tour on the way, the world is eager to hear what Grimes will sound like next, as she's recently announced that fans can expect her new album later in 2015.
An 'epic' album in the works
Reports of a new Grimes album are nothing new, as all throughout 2014, the artist was expected to release her much-anticipated record. However, despite releasing a few singles, progress on the album was delayed, and many speculated that Boucher had scrapped the entire project and was working on a new record from scratch. Boucher has denied some of these claims that she parted ways with an entire project, but the artist has been adamant that she was displeased with the outcome of some of her latest singles, such as "Realiti."
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Boucher described how she's not only excited to release her album later in the year, but that the project is one of the first in her career that she feels comfortable sharing with those closest to her.
"It's the first record that I've made that I can listen to with other people around and not cringe and feel horrified," Boucher said in the interview. "This is the first record I've made with an audience. I made Visions in a couple weeks. Most of those songs are like the demo track. I'd be like, 'Blah blah blah,' and just keep it. This time all the songs are kind of written. You could theoretically play them all on the guitar or on the piano. In terms of the sound design, I got a lot better."
Boucher has further described the upcoming album as a balance between her desire to experiment with music while tying it all together with signature pop sounds and production techniques. She also taught herself to play new instruments during the recording process of the album, such as the violin as well as 808s and other forms of percussion software. There have been few reports in regard to any featured appearances on the album, but Boucher has stated that one of the collaborations on the record that she's most proud of was with a Taiwanese rapper named Aristophanes. While no album release date has been issued, Boucher has claimed that she plans on surprising fans by dropping the record unexpectedly.
New album, new tour
Since her release of Visions, Grimes has mostly played festivals when it comes to live appearances. However, with her album expected out any time, she has recently announced that she'll be embarking on an expansive tour this fall, along with another up and coming pop artist named Nicole Dollanganger. The tour is slated to kick off on October 24 and will go through the end of November, making stops at major U.S. and Canadian cities along the way.
While the years of living life one risk at a time have finally paid off for Los Angeles punk rockers FIDLAR, there certainly seems to be a newfound feeling of ease within the band. FIDLAR is comprised of lead singer and guitarist Zac Carper, lead guitarist Elvis Kuehn, bassist Brandon Schwartzel and drummer Max Kuehn, and has been the leader in the West Coast garage and surf punk scene for the past few years. Now, with a new album that details the rocky climb to success, FIDLAR is finally breaking out while trying to avoid the various instabilities that could have lead to breaking up.
Life's a risk
The origin of FIDLAR is just as intriguing as its rise to fame. Brothers Max and Elvis Kuehn's father Greg was an iconic figure during the late '70s and early '80s hardcore punk scene of L.A., playing keyboard for the band T.S.O.L. His influence clearly rubbed off on his boys, as Max and Elvis were very active in the local music scene all throughout their teenage years. Eventually, the two were introduced to Carper and Schwartzel, the latter already playing bass in established California bands like Rooney. After building up buzz around L.A. with its intensely energetic shows and reincarnation of punk spirit, FIDLAR was signed to Mom + Pop Records in 2012, when it then released its debut self-titled album.
After the first album dropped, the good times continued to roll - or so everyone thought. While the band was able to garner acclaim and attention from many blogs and began opening for bands like Wavves, The Pixies and The Hives, lead singer Carper was coping with many demons while trying to control life on the road. In a recent interview with Consequence of Sound, Carper opened up about many of the issues he was struggling with before, and especially during FIDLAR's road to success.
"I would say I wasn't going to do dope, but three days later a needle would be back in my arm," Carper told Consequence of Sound. "The problem was that I was the frontman of a punk band. Everywhere I went I had people f-ing giving me coke, speed, just wanting to do drugs with me. I didn't know how to cope. I couldn't deal with life, really, so I just did a bunch of drugs."
Carper overdosed on drugs multiple times throughout the year, and his antics were beginning to cause other band members to worry. However, after a few stints in rehab and support from the other guys in the group, Carper was able to shake off the drugs, and has since committed himself to sobriety, which ultimately led to the reincarnation of FIDLAR.
New album and tour
Just because the drugs and the booze may not be fueling the band like before doesn't mean FIDLAR hasn't done away with its garage and punk roots. The group's second album Too was released on September 4, 2015, and has seen plenty of acclaim from critics, especially regarding the song's lyrical content. Carper addressed many of the vices and habits he had to overcome in songs like "Sober" and "Overdose," and the band worked with a producer for the first time, Jay Joyce, to add a more polished production sound to its fuzzy and scuzzy power-chord anthems. FIDLAR has also spent plenty of time on the road in 2015, and after the release of Too still, has dozens of shows lined up in the U.S. and other countries around the world. A story of recklessness and redemption, time will only tell what trials and tribulations will take FIDLAR next.