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Kurt Vile

So Outta Reach EP

(Matador; US: 8 Nov 2011; UK: Import)

Joining the best-aged staples of heartland rock with smoky production, Philly singer-songwriter Kurt Vile’s most recent full-length, Smoke Ring for My Halo, justly garnered much critical acclaim not long after its March release. Thankfully, his latest showing, the 30-minute So Outta Reach EP, is chockfull of everything that made that album so special: nimble guitar picking, characteristically passive lyrics (“Life‘s a while“), warmly mumbled vocals, and enveloping atmospherics. Highlight “The Creature“ is unmistakably Vile, which is to say it‘s so idiosyncratic that it‘s hard to imagine anyone else—not even the War on Drugs‘ Adam Granduciel, Vile‘s former bandmate and frequent reference point—writing or recording it. The penultimate track here is a fuzzed-up cover of Bruce Springsteen‘s ”Downbound Train”. Of course, So Outta Reach won’t garner the same legacy as the album that song came from, Born in the U.S.A., but at its best, it’s enjoyable enough to pretend that it will.

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