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Square Shells EP

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iTunes Review

Philadelphia psych-folkie Kurt Vile is a prolific songwriter championed not only for his brilliantly simple yet infectious tunes — but also for his amazing taste in experimental sonic textures. His 2010 Square Shells EP may be the best example of this to date. “Ocean City” opens with Vile’s lo-fi vocals contrasting nicely against a crisp sounding acoustic guitar as his sing-along catchy melodies are crooned in plaintive, cool inflections. Then somewhere around the third chorus, analog synths descend to sound like a cartoon flying saucer landing in the middle of his song. “Invisibility: Nonexistent” is a seven-and-a-half-minute-long composition bolstered by a faraway recorded drum-machine that could have been pilfered from Ariel Pink, with Moog-tweaked bubbles and chirps squealing behind a pulsing mantra of vintage-guitar distortion. The spare and beautiful “I Wanted Everything” drenches Vile’s acoustic finger-picking and haunting voice in waves of bathroom reverb as he muses on the kind of cryptic confessionals that you normally have to find in old Neil Young songs. Gauzy instrumentals like “Losing Momentum (For Jim Jarmusch)” and “The Finder” provide lush intermissions.

Customer Reviews

If Randy Newman had some edge to him...

... you'd probably get Kurt Vile. He's subversively catchy with his raspy voice and devilish guitar licks that are so easy but so right for his style. He sings lines like 'you've got a best friend, don't know how, you've got a best friend now', cute but also a backhanded compliment that fits in his new age hipster folk. Hard to believe all he does is loop his guitar and stands alone with his dissonant sounds that should harm your ears but for some reason makes you want more than just this lengthy EP. Hopefully you can catch him on tour to hear more. He'll probably be opening for one of your new favorite bands.


This EP has some of kurt's greatest tunes, in my opinion! It's so great to listen to all the way through; it's such a gem. This was the first kurt vile record I really got into, then came Hitmaker and Smoke Ring and Childish Prodigy. If you're trying to get into kurt's tunes, get square shells!


Born: January 3, 1980 in Lansdowne, PA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Philadelphia songwriter Kurt Vile was already recording himself at home by age 14, shortly after his bluegrass-loving father purchased him a banjo to encourage his youthful creativity. By age 17, Vile was self-releasing cassettes of his home recordings, which in the earliest days were strongly influenced by the raw slacker pop of the Drag City roster. He would continue to record prolifically, releasing cassettes and CD-Rs of his solo material while holding down a day job as a forklift operator. ...
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Square Shells EP, Kurt Vile
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