Whether gently picked and melancholy, dark and Stones-y or lost and droney, the songs of Philadelphia's Kurt Vile give off an unmistakable aura. That's partly attributable to Vile's distinct vocal delivery, which seems to split the difference between J Mascis and Thurston Moore. While early releases mined the lo-fi end of the psych-folk spectrum, Walkin' on a Pretty Daze, released in April, is like a hit of pure sunshine that burns off some of the narco haze. A bit of that pinched tonality is gone, replaced by a more open, natural delivery, and some of the most straightforward and indelible melodies of Vile's career demand return trips to the long but rewarding record. With his band of seasoned Violators to back him, Vile is a canny performer and a skilled player.
The Swirlies, formed in the Boston indie scene of the early '90s, have a whimsical-sounding name that doesn't suggest a band deeply in love with noise and chaos. Though they started in the spirit of pop fancy, it only took a couple of releases by the ascendant My Bloody Valentine to provide the Boston quartet with a sonic vocabulary forged from quavering sheets of guitar noise, swooning co-ed vocals and spindly melodies delivered with pile-driving force. Over the years, the band has persevered through lineup changes, label drama and lengthy sabbaticals, but their commitment to noise and chaos has never wavered. —David Klein