Kurt Vile 

Childish Prodigy

The fact that Kurt Vile's sound meshes well with the new lo-fi hipster boy-rock explains his recent acquisition by Matador. It does nothing to explain the phenomenon that is Vile.

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I'm disappointed to discover that Kurt Vile is his real name, and that he seems oblivious to the expectations created by using a name like that—that he must have a mangy punk rock persona, more likely that he aspires to Dresden Dolls-style artiness. But apparently this is not the case, so it's useless to compare this delightfully strange artist to Kurt Weill, the guy who wrote some of the world's best strange tunes while running away from the Nazis. Oh well.

The good news is that nerdy art school types like me will dig Vile as much as The Doors dug Weill. Childish Prodigy is the product of a parallel musical universe where a heartthrob boogie-woogie singer from the '50s performs songs written in another life by Bruce Springsteen and members of Big Star. The tunes, bearing names like "Hunchback" and "Dead Alive," feel familiar but off-kilter, and there's something ghostly about the whole production, perhaps because the reverb-heavy sound creates a sense of distance. It's like music from the abyss.

Kurt Vile plays the Palace Friday, Oct. 16, at 9 PM. $5.

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