Kurt Vile and The Violators

Kurt Vile and The Violators

Having been the subject and willing conspirator of many intentional lies planted in Sonic Youth bios over the years, I know first hand the way album lore can bend reality to its truth. After the infamous Byron Coley originated the SY “Trilogy” myth in the Murray Street bio, we had no choice but to fulfill those expectations with Sonic Nurse. “Why did you decide to make a trilogy?” was always the first question asked in interviews around that time.

But this is Kurt Vile’s bio, and I wont do that to him. Anyway, Kurt does his own myth making; a boy/man with an old soul voice in the age of digital everything becoming something else, which is why this focused, brilliantly clear and seemingly candid record is a breath of fresh air. Recorded and mixed in a number of locations, including Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, b’lieve i’m goin down… is a handshake across the country, east to west coast, thru the dustbowl history (“valley of ashes”) of woody honest strait forward talk guthrie, and a cali canyon dead still nite floating in a nearly waterless landscape. The record is all air, weightless, bodyless, but grounded in convincing authenticity, in the best version of singer songwriter upcycling. In Kurt’s words, “I wanted to get back into the habit of writing a sad song on my couch, with nobody waiting on me. I really wanted it to sound like it’s on my couch — not in a lo-fi way, just more unguarded and vulnerable.”

For a record that plays like a cohesive acoustic experience, its musicality marks Kurt’s departure from an electric guitar experience to include a range of instrumentation with a large group of players. From the banjo he plays on “I’m an Outlaw” to the piano and lapsteel on “Life Like This,” and the myriad other instruments on other songs, including farfisa, resonator, arps, horns and synth, one never thinks about what exactly yr listening to as it all serves the song.

The heart of the record is “Stand Inside.” The music is quiet and the melody, like a hymn, folds in on itself, and embraces full strength in a sexy, floating forcelessness that slowly gathers into a wave that doesn’t go where you think it will or rather gives in to itself and celebrates a man willing to be defined by a woman and his love for her as witness to each other’s lives… Don’t stand by my side, stand inside gives up roleplaying for true exposure and vulnerability.

It’s a weird, accepting, mature record, acknowledging the inherent immaturity of being a person whether father, husband, partner, adult, musician, not perfect, but compelling for its understanding … that’s life though so sad to say… I love this record,

b’lieve i’m goin down.

Kim Gordon

Formed from the shell of a Go-Go's cover band named Raspberry Bang (featuring the inimitable Rusty Nails), SWIRLIES began their life in Boston/Cambridge, MA in the summer of 1990. The original band featured Damon Tutunjian (guitar/vox), Seana Carmody (guitar/vox), Andy Bernick (bass), and Ben Drucker (drums). SWIRLIES played live for the very first time on 25 January 1991 at the Alcove in Allston, MA. In these early years, SWIRLIES wandered the Northeastern Megalopolis with other like-minded folks, releasing 7" records through the kindness of Slumberland, Pop Narcotic, Cinderblock, and other labels. Billy Ruane was there. And then SWIRLIES signed to the 'local' label Taang! Records in 1992. Our first two releases, the ’What to Do About Them’ EP (a collection of previous 7"s and new tracks) and ‘Blondertongue Audiobaton’ LP, were created and recorded by an amalgamation of the original members and other mysterious entities. Our dependence on sacred symbols (embodied by The Ostrich, The One Who Speaks Abstractly On Recordings, and other archetypes) began at approximately this time.
Then the chaos seeped in slowly...with the first of many churnings of personnel. In early 1993, Morgan Andrews (MADBOX, ROCK/PAPER/SCISSORS) took over bass-related duties and infused them with his own blend of irritating noise. It was this SWIRLIES that made a video for 'Bell' with Linsey Herman (CAKE AND COMMERCE) and went on their first US tour in a stinking minivan filled with fashion magazines. After school ended for the season, Andy returned to join Morgan and the band. Thus, SWIRLIES explored the sensual realm known exclusively to bands with two bass players. Morgan shortly became spent and disgusted and disappeared into anarchist puppetry oblivion. Ben Drucker was oustered (some say unwisely) and went on to use his mind more productively in other areas. Around the time that ‘Brokedick Car’ EP was released, Anthony Deluca (THE PLANTS) signed on -- mainly because Lenny Kravitz found an attractive lady to drum in his nascent band.

After some years with Anthony, and our first small tour of Europe in January 1994, Seana left to form the now defunct SYRUP USA, and guitar/singing duties were taken over by The Otter (a/k/a Christina Files). With this group, ‘They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days In The Glittering World Of The Salons’ LP was conceived/recorded over two years at various studios. Anthony departed with hybrid vigor in late 1995, and Gavin McCarthy (KARATE) took over the drum kit for two US tours and a handful of other shows....during which he went temporarily insane and (smelling like a Bowery bum) drove his fancy white van across the country and out of our lives forever. More chaos. The now Gavin-less SWIRLIES (e.g. Damon, Christina, and Andy) played a few liberating analog/digital shows, before somehow managing to absorb drummer Adam Pierce (IRIS, DYLAN GROUP, MICE PARADE).

In 1997, Christina left for glory (including VICTORY AT SEA, MARY TIMONY, and current recording/sound genius). ‘Strictly East Coast Sneaky Flute Music’ LP (our last for Taang!) was released at about this time. This record featured remixes of 'Salons’ LP material, and new pieces heavily influenced by Scituate, MA. Free from contractual obligations, SWIRLIES were blessed by Yahweh to find guitarist Rob '(The) Doctor Laasoko' Laakso (WICKED FARLEYS, THE MATHS, DIAMOND NIGHTS, AMAZING BABY).

Since about 2000, SWIRLIES have more or less maintained the "Damon-Rob-Andy-Adam" arrangement, while also taking on: Mike Walker (LILYS), Ken Bernard (WICKED FARLEYS, CERTAINLY, SIR, STRICTLY BUSINESS), Kara Tutunjian, our old comrade Seana Carmody, Deb Warfield (PUELLA), Doro Tachler (IGLOO), Avery Matthews, Kevin Shea (COPTIC LIGHT, SEXY THOUGHTS, PEOPLE), Junko Henmi (CANDYCANE) and so many others. All of the above helped to make and/or perform songs that became 'Cats of The Wild, Volume 2', the mini-album, EP, or whatever it was (Bubblecore, released 25 March 2003). Touring with a "Damon-Rob-Adam-Mike-Doro-and-rarely-with-bird-researchin'-Andy" arrangement continued for a few years, and briefly ended when Damon moved to Parts Midwest to find better living through psycholinguistics. A smattering of northeastern US shows (mislabeled "reunions") happened in 2009 (and will happen in 2011) with a "Damon-Rob-Andy-Adam-Deb-Shep-plus guests" arrangement.

photo of the sirlies in 2003Some examples of recent activity, also known as Grim Death Throes: 1) SNEAKY FLUTE EMPIRE, our special alter-ur-label with cassette and CD releases; 2) THE YES GIRLS, a sneaky-flute-music-playing group featuring Damon and occasionally some combination of Rob Laakso, Andy Bernick, and Ron Rege; 3) RICHMOND COUNTY ARCHIVES, a label with various tangential releases (like NEVAH HAVE I EVAH: A Sneaky Flute Family Album and BUCK WILD!); 4) SWIRLIES' MAGIC STROP, a series of old SWIRLIES sounds offered as free web releases on this very site.

Stay vigilant always and prepared anytime, and we shall see you at The Spit on the 4th of July.

$15.00 - $17.00

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