Kurt Vile & the Violators (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Although his name sounds like the concocted pseudonym for a virulent Punk howler, Kurt Vile has crafted a potent solo catalog over the past six years. The Philadelphia native's musical path began in 1994 with a banjo gifted him by his father; preferring a guitar, Vile played the four-string with Rock intensity. At 17, Vile channeled his love of Pavement, Beck and (Smog) into his first self-recorded, self-distributed tape before taking a series of blue collar jobs. After a two-year stint in Boston, Vile returned to Philadelphia and formed the War on Drugs with fellow songwriter Adam Granduciel, a gig that lasted for five years. In 2008, the War on Drugs released their debut, Wagonwheel Blues, closely followed by Vile's first real album, Constant Hitmaker; after a European tour where he opened for WOD as a solo act, Vile amicably left the band to concentrate on his own material. After a couple of fascinating lo-and-not-so-lo-fi releases, Vile signed with Matador and began his cautious march toward cult stardom. 2011's Smoke Ring for My Halo cracked the lower quarter of Billboard's Top 200 chart, while this year's spectacular and introspective Wakin' on a Pretty Daze hit the Top 50 and will likely feature in a lot of critics' year-end lists.
YDIIYD: A reunion of the 1977 jam summit between Fleetwood Mac and Television, with Jim James and the ghost of Chris Whitley as MCs. (BB)