Artist: Kurt Vile
Album: Smoke Ring for my Halo
There is a very good chance that if you haven’t heard of Kurt Vile, you will soon. He is currently one of the indie scenes rising stars, and for very good reason. On his newest album as a solo artist (ex-member of The War on Drugs) he channels the classic rock sounds of Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty while still sounding fresh and unique in today’s musical landscape. Unlike his last album, Childish Prodigy, which mainly featured psychedelic distortion, his new LP is filled with acoustic guitars, hard rhythms and a smoky production. There are no rockers on Smoke Ring (though “In My Time” has a great solo and breakdown) but the driving rhythms more than make up for that fact in songs like “Society is my Friend.” Elsewhere, the sublime acoustics lead the way in “Baby’s Arms” and “Peeping Tomboy.”
Smoke Ring is Vile’s most focused record to date, and provides a great entry point for the uninitiated. With 2011 quickly coming to a close, I feel comfortable in naming Smoke Ring for My Halo my personal album of the year.