Friday, July 23, 2010

Kurt Vile & the Violators, Real Estate, No Joy – July 22 at Il Motore 

No Joy

This L.A.-via-Montreal band's noisy nostalgia sort of works, and it sort of doesn't. When it does, the feedback-heavy waves emanating from their shiny guitars, boutique pedals and vintage-reissue amps coalesce to form an agreeable orb, while at other times each player's contribution seems to just get in the way of the other frequencies, muddying the whole experiment.

No Joy certainly put out some desirable components, but there's a barrage of reverb-heavy garage rock currently re-imagining the music we were too young to experience the first time around, and there's no particular reason why I should care about No Joy over any other band former by former Thurston Moore fanclubbers. Failing that much-needed substance, their 4th gen Yo La Tengo stylings will be about as useful as the heel-and-toe-exposing boots sported onstage.

Real Estate

I love this band because they do something no one else can: they make me not hate the suburbs. Forget the oil addiction, the social isolation, the close-minded classicism – without the cul-de-sac, there would be no Real Estate. For that, I'm forever grateful, and at least a little conflicted.

While I would consider these born-and-bred New Jerseymen's self-titled debut to be an example of great art coming from dark places, something tells me they wouldn't agree with that description of their origins. Real Estate reflects the aimlessness of four friends moving back to Jersey after college, but as bassist Alex Bleeker explains, there is a natural tendency to glorify nostalgia, emphasizing the rosier parts of Jersey life.

There's also a humble yet reactionary pride that rumbles along with their thoughtful reverberations on suburbia. "[That pride is] accentuated by people telling you that where you come from sucks," Bleeker says. I've always felt a similar reason for sticking up for Georgetown, Ontario – a town as white as it sounds – even though, more recently, I feel like its most vocal critic. No regrets about my comfortable, fresh air'd upbringing, of course, though it would have been nice to ride the subway a few more times before going away to school.

Just as perceptions of our pasts change, so does the band's current batch of songs, which so wonderfully serves as a gateway to revisit patchy childhood perspectives. When I first saw them opening for Woods at Club Lambi in the spring, I wasn't expecting the tempo and vocals on "Green River" to reach such anthemic levels, but this time I was ready. The "woah-oh" rush bled straight into the poolside drawl of "Suburban Beverage," and then into perhaps the bravest contribution to their repertoire, "Atlantic City." Ostensibly, a less than two-minute instrumental track (that sounds like an alternate ending for other songs) might seem out of place – but if the suburban mythology is going to hold true, it has to be open to everybody, or in this case, every song.

With every passing chilled out lyric or sepia-toned memory, it would be easy to criticize Real Estate for poaching the few bucolic aspects of suburbia for their own benefit. The important thing with this band, however, is that the experience is shared.

Kurt Vile & the Violators

[coming soon]

Photos courtesy of Véronique Coté. All rights reserved.