Kurt Vile

Constant Hitmaker

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AllMusic Review by

He's no R. Stevie Moore -- yet -- but Philadelphia homebody Kurt Vile is definitely as much of an acolyte to the home-recording mastermind as Ariel Pink: prior to Constant Hitmaker, his first "proper" album, Vile self-released a steady stream of homemade CD-Rs and the occasional 7" single, many consisting of solo acoustic songs, often instrumentals heavily indebted to John Fahey and his acolytes. There's a little of that on Constant Hitmaker, but overall, this 13-track set features the singer/songwriter's lo-fi pop side. The "lo-fi" part of that sentence should likely take precedence over the "pop": not since pre-Bee Thousand Guided by Voices has there been an artist so philosophically devoted to the concept of muddy sound, echoing vocals, bad mixing, and tape hiss as a deliberate musical element. What makes Constant Hitmaker a compelling listen even for those not attuned to such deliberately primitive acoustics is that for every bit of self-indulgent experimental noise like "American Folded" or "Intro in Z," there are three immediately arresting pop gems like "Don't Get Cute," "Freeway," and "Trumpets in Summer." Playful and experimental without getting too pretentious about it, Kurt Vile has the goods to be more than a tiny cult figure for the home recording underground.

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