Published Nov 05, 2013It's been a very good year for Philadelphia rocker Kurt Vile. Back in April, Vile released his excellent fifth studio LP, Wakin On A Pretty Daze, an album now destined to become a staple of year-end best of lists. Subsequently, August 28 was declared 'Kurt Vile Day' in Philadelphia. and the city has also recently presented him with its highest honour, the Liberty Bell Award.
But international praise and hometown love was not always the norm for Kurt Vile. The release of the Jamaica Plain EP, a short collection of early 2000s collaborations between Vile and Sore Eros' Robert Robinson, takes listeners back to a time when things were more uncertain for the Philly musician.
The EP's title track is a near-7 minute melancholic instrumental piece, named for the small Boston suburb in which it was recorded. "Serum," the only track to contain any vocals, comes closest to approaching a traditional song structure as Robinson lightly croons over a whimsical mix of acoustics and synths. The final track, "Calling Out of Work," is named for a time when Vile was working as a fork-lift driver, struggling to make it as a musician. Accordingly, the song contains elements that would later become typical of Vile's music, though the song sounds somehow frustrated, unable to fully realize its own potential.
Though certainly not as compelling as Vile's more recent work, the Jamaica Plain EP is worth a listen if only to dig deeper into the musical past of one of modern indie-rock's most celebrated performers. (Care in the Community)