Kurt Vile and the Violators are wrapping up a career year after the success of their great new LP, Wakin on a Pretty Daze, and no career year can be complete without some sober reflection on that career’s earlier, uncertain days. With this in mind, Vile is capping off 2013 with two more EPs. One is new, and the other is Jamaica Plain, a collaboration with Sore Eros (the band of sometime Vile collaborator Robert Robinson) named after the Boston neighborhood in which it was recorded roughly a decade ago.
Though it spans just 16 minutes between three songs, Jamaica Plain is a must-hear for Violators fans interested in a musical snapshot of the band’s early stages. The predominantly instrumental EP moves with graceful efficiency and richness, somewhat similar to Do Make Say Think’s & Yet & Yet, another early-aughts album from a collective known for soft, detail-attentive space-outs with a lot of guitar. Though it’s all too fuzzy to be “unmistakably Violators”, it reveals that the talented ears behind it could gaze with the best of them even then.
The opening title track – a slow, contemplative seven-minute instrumental that uses little more than subtle electronic swells and the metronomic ticks of an acoustic guitar – sets the bar, which both other tracks proceed to meet. “Serum” adds vocals, but not a single unnecessary element more. Only on EP closer “Calling Out of Work” do Vile and Robinson get into extra-heady, mostly rhythm-less ambient territory for one of the airiest cuts Vile has ever put to tape. Like the album, it’s a delightful, entrancing glimpse into the early musical personality of the guy who’s been stuck in a “pretty daze” ever since.
Essential Tracks: “Jamaica Plain”, “Calling Out of Work”