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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
News Editor

I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

Vile b’lieves he’s goin’ down, if nothing else

Former band member of The War On Drugs gone solo, Kurt Vile doesn’t give a damn about punctuation—in fact, he seems to take everything lightly but the quality of his music.

His opening track on “b’lieve i’m goin down,” titled “Pretty Pimpin,” is a jam and a half about a guy who can’t get his head on straight. If one didn’t know better, the song may seem to showcase his mindset: “I woke up this morning, didn’t recognize the man in the mirror / then I laughed and I said, ‘Oh silly me, that’s just me.’”

This song was released late this summer as a single, a little glimpse of what the new album would be like, and I played it at least once a day for weeks on end. It’s a good thing my roommate liked it, too.

Vile’s latest release compares favorably with what he’s put out before. In “Wakin On A Pretty Daze” there was plenty of the reverb and fog, as well as catchy hooks and choruses, in a very raw-denim classic-rock style.

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The immediate impression of Vile is long hair, possibly a mustache and a music video self-shot on Super 8 film.

Fans who put the latest record on will not be too surprised to hear more along those lines, although Vile has dialed back on the reverb—just a little bit—and brought in piano on a few songs. It’s darker, softer, but still exciting, still Vile.

Previous releases have all drawn on similar influences, and the fact that Vile himself writes, sings and plays guitar for every song he releases makes for a relatively uniform sound throughout.

That’s not to say it’s a bad thing. The music is becoming more refined, more honed-down, closer to the real identity of Kurt Vile with every attempt at nailing it.

One constant through his work is the finger-picked lead guitar, peppered with arpeggios, such as on the track “Kidding Around.”

On “b’lieve i’m goin down” Vile sets the electric guitar aside and gives us several stripped-down acoustic tracks, not without some grandiose production but definitely short(er) on the reverb and distortion. “All in a daze work” is a very adaptable song, sad in its inflection but much in the style of a grungy 1970s rocker—much like Vile.

The acoustic guitar and softened drumbeats provide a backdrop to Vile’s stumble-off singing style, and the end result is more rainy-day and less fight-outside-the-dive-bar. Other than the song “Pretty Pimpin,” none of the tracks on “b’lieve i’m goin down” grab me the in the same ways as “Never Run Away” from “Wakin On A Pretty Daze.”

The choruses of those harder songs are just right, the edges rough but providing what you may need to grip onto.

“Kidding Around,” the penultimate track on “b’lieve,” is a gorgeous song light on vocals and heavy on instrumentals, a different direction from what Vile’s harder stuff is about; the man has edges, but he has quieter sensibilities too. His hard music is hard and his soft music is soft.

This contrast is evident through the latest album, and through previous releases as well. Good musicians strive for such range, and to showcase it as well as Vile has on “b’lieve.” I may not have found my next road trip soundtrack in “b’lieve,” perhaps, but I’ll be listening to this one for a long time.

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