Release Date: Nov 4, 2013
Record label: Care in the Community
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Indie Pop, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Philadelphia musicians Kurt Vile and Robert Robinson began collaborating long before they would rise to greater acclaim both individually and together, Robinson with his tape-hiss symphonies as Sore Eros and Vile as a dreamer of vivid, guitar-based indie rock daydreams with his much-lauded solo work. Robinson would accompany Vile as one of the Violators on tours, but in the early 2000s the two worked frequently on lo-fi home recordings that could at times boil down the best elements of their moody, often spaced-out musical personalities. Jamaica Plain is a short-running EP that collects some bright moments from these early collaborations, initially offered up years after their creation.
It's been a very good year for Philadelphia rocker Kurt Vile. Back in April, Vile released his excellent fifth studio LP, Wakin On A Pretty Daze, an album now destined to become a staple of year-end best of lists. Subsequently, August 28 was declared 'Kurt Vile Day' in Philadelphia. and the city has also recently presented him with its highest honour, the Liberty Bell Award.But international praise and hometown love was not always the norm for Kurt Vile.
Kurt Vile and the Violators are wrapping up a career year after the success of their great new LP, Wakin on a Pretty Daze, and no career year can be complete without some sober reflection on that career’s earlier, uncertain days. With this in mind, Vile is capping off 2013 with two more EPs. One is new, and the other is Jamaica Plain, a collaboration with Sore Eros (the band of sometime Vile collaborator Robert Robinson) named after the Boston neighborhood in which it was recorded roughly a decade ago.
It's become part of Kurt Vile's small mythology, insofar as he has one: The few post-high school years he lived in Boston, away from his childhood friends in Philly. This brief purgatory—spent discovering John Fahey, driving a forklift to make ends meet, and wondering where all his friends had gone—was a formative, fertile period, the years in which he discovered and honed his inimitable finger-picking style and zeroed in on the wry, cosmic loneliness that would become his defining sound. He came back to Philly from what he once called his "weird little exile" with his first fully formed songs intact.
There comes a point in every stoned musician’s longest bong session when the idea of releasing an ambient folk EP full of birdsong, drones and repetitive tone-poems that were recorded 10 years ago sounds like a good idea. If anyone could pull this off it’s Kurt Vile, who created this three-track EP of largely instrumental soundscapes alongside Robert Robinson of Connecticut’s Sore Eros in the early 2000s. But ‘Jamaica Plain’ is inessential stuff.
Kurt Vile & Sore Eros’ new EP, Jamaica Plain, takes its name from the Boston town in Massachusetts, where it was recorded, referred to in the 19th century as “the Eden of America.” Though the EP is basically a sound collage, it is built on solid foundation of analog production that is naturally warm and evocative, hissing its way through the charming three song set. The abstract landscapes live and breathe within the six-minute experiments, somehow managing to make sense with the abrupt edits and naïve singing only enhancing its non-linear esthetic. The boys have given the album their own ‘heady’ explanation, contextualizing it by the certain geographical references in the lyrics.
Long before The War On Drugs, prior to signing to Matador, and a good decade previous to his most recent, triumphal album Wakin On A Pretty Daze, Kurt Vile made some distinctly lo-fi, largely instrumental recordings with ex-Violator Robert Robinson (aka Sore Eros). While spending his days as a forklift driver, Vile filled his nights with putting together strange, stoned collaborations, three of which show up here on the Jamaica Plain EP, so titled due to the suburb of Boston in which it was recorded. It would be trite to say that the seeds of Vile’s career are sown, his now obvious talent foreshadowed, his future successes predicted by these three slight songs, and also incorrect.