Smoke Ring for My Halo

Philly's Kurt Vile can sound like Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp or Lou Reed — if those standard-bearers were murmuring through a speakerphone after a few salvia bongs. On Vile's fourth LP, the stoner haze lifts a bit, and he settles on a mood: chilled-out but guarded, and wrapped in gorgeous folk-blues guitar-picking. The vibe is warmly psychedelic, but reality is banging at the door. "When it's looking dark, punch the future in the face," he slurs in "Runner Ups," a Dylanesque ramble about making do in a fucked-up world. In the womblike context of these seductive, hand-crafted songs, it seems like excellent advice.

Listen to "Jesus Fever":

Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos

From The Archives Issue 1126: March 17, 2011
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