PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Willie Nile: The Innocent Ones

Stephen Rowland

If you find authenticity in struggle, if you hate all that is fake and manipulative, or if you just love good ol' rock 'n' roll, Willie Nile is your man.

Willie Nile

The Innocent Ones

Label: River House
US Release Date: 2011-10-24
UK Release Date: 2010-10-11

Friends in high places may once in awhile throw you a bone, but won't really invest themselves into helping you move forward. Willie Nile, championed by Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, Lou Reed and Bono, and this big artist and that other one, still struggled to get this album released in the United States, despite its being the epitome of real, true American rock 'n' roll. I've learned from experience that it's only "who you know" to an extent. In a world of artists respecting artists, it's not right, but you can always be a threat.

With The Innocent Ones, Nile once again proves he's a threat. Is he Springsteen? No. Is he fucking great? Yes. There is not a bad song on this album, 11 in all, 35 glorious minutes, and Nile achieved exactly what he wanted. The goal was to make an album about the downtrodden, the forgotten, the hopeless, in his words, "The Innocent Ones", but to keep the vibe upbeat and hopeful throughout. Even on the most melancholy songs, such as the title track, things suddenly look up and you might smile and you might just want to keep going on. That's what the music does to me, and let me tell you boy, that's a rare feeling for me to have.

The music? Well, if you dig Springsteen, Petty, Peter Wolf (post-J Geils) – basically great, melodic American rock, this is right up your alley. It's done with enough originality to separate Nile from the pack, and includes a few surprises (such as the Ramones-inspired "Can't Stay Home") that keep things from becoming mundane. Nile's beeen doing this for 30 years. Put your faith in that.

Now that The Innocent Ones has hit American shores, it's important to seek it out. This is an artist that needs to be supported. There is nothing cloying, fake, pretentious, or manipulative about the record. Although I find it important, the Bullshit Detector can be forgotten, because it boils down to this: 11 great goddamn songs, one beautiful and cohesive record.

Something struck me about the cover of the album: it shows a silhouette of Nile playing his guitar with the cord looped and dragging on the floor, like the real people do it. No cordless/wireless stadium luxuries. And it may mean nothing to most people, but it's another testament to the honesty of Nile, a tiny, unintentional detail that brings everything down to earth. You're not wireless. You are confined. It says a lot about the artist and the album.

Or, as Nile puts it: "Taking the long road has been a good thing."


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.