Kurt Vile, True Widow

Philadelphia native Kurt Vile is a tough act to pin down, despite the fact that so many seem to think they have him figured out. To be fair to those quick-to-judge folks: Yes, a lot has changed for Vile in recent years. The artist, who started his mystical odyssey by recording lo-fi albums to CD-R and handling everything himself, is now signed to the mighty Matador Records label.

His second LP for the independent powerhouse, this year's Smoke Ring for My Halo, isn't the fuzzy lo-fi folk nor the 1970s radio rock that bloggers want to so hastily deem it. It's one of the year's best records so far, more of a combination of the aforementioned styles than anything else. Throw in some droning guitar and some skillful finger-picking and, over repeated listens, you'll continue to hear divergent styles come together in a well-blended fashion.

Adding to his enigmatic essence, Vile has faithfully employed religious imagery in lyrics and titles for both songs and albums throughout his career. Is he a devout follower? Is he raging against the church-going machine? Neither? Tough to say. Like I said: He's not an easy guy to figure out.

This much is sure, though: His live show leans to the louder end of his spectrum. So it makes sense, then, that for Vile's Dallas show, local stone-gaze trio True Widow is slated to open the proceedings.

—Kelly Dearmore

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