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Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Daze

In so many ways Wakin on a Pretty Daze is a defining record for Philadelphia songwriter and guitarist Kurt Vile. Vile, who first gained notoriety as a guitarist for fellow Philly indie rockers The War on Drugs, has been prolific on his own for the past five years and this new studio album is a culmination of all the great potential that's been building throughout his career. Wakin on a Pretty Daze (Matador) is a collection of songs that wanders beautifully with great ease and without any restriction.

As a guitarist, Vile has developed a signature style and tone that walks a line of edginess and splendor. It's a musical footprint, a sound, that for fans has become unmistakable. And on Wakin on a Pretty Daze Vile allows himself to search and stretch sonic boundaries. The album opens with the aptly titled "Wakin on a Pretty Day" (not daze) and offers us a hazy, dreamy blanket of fuzzy guitar for just over 9 minutes. And at the end of that journey, as a listener all you want is more. Luckily, Kurt offers up just that. Songs like "Was All Talk" and the acoustic, contemplative "Too Hard" are perfect musical daydreams.

Vile does balance out the spacious and exploratory nature that consumes much of the album. He reminds us that his rock edge is still something to be reckoned with on the stand-out, "KV Crimes". And songs like "Never Run Away" and "Shame Chamber" are among the most accessible we've come to expect from Kurt. All of these songs are reasons why we'll look back at Wakin on a Pretty Daze as a breakthrough album from one of Philly's most imaginative talents.

~Mike Vasilikos

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