Levitation 2019 announces phase one lineup; John Cale, Dinosaur Jr., Angel Olsen, High On Fire, and Kurt Vile to play Austin fest in November

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It’s May. I guess it’s time to talk festivals. There’s a lot to despise about them: the cost, the organizers, the line-ups, the porta-potties, the having to stand in a field among throngs of shitbirds and shitpeople, eating shitfood and drinking shitbeer. It’s, what’s the word I’m looking for…SHIT, I tells ya! One thing we can ALL agree on is there are not enough festivals that lift you to experience, hoist your heinies heavenwards, and cause your tootsies to LEVITATE…can I get a HALLELUJAH?!?!

Hyperbolic? Perhaps. There are great festivals out there, but Levitation — the annual three-day psych festival held in Austin — is one of the few musical masses that surprises and delights every year. The “phase one” 2019 line-up has been announced and it is a orgy of musical pleasures. Between November 7-10, the likes of John Cale, Dinosaur Jr., Angel Olsen, Kurt Vile, High On Fire, Chelsea Wolfe, Devendra Banhart, Deafheaven, and fest founders The Black Angels will be traipsing around Austin clubs, spreading wondrous sounds and tremendous vibes. Think “different plane” — not David Blaine.

Complete ticket info is here. Check out the initial line-up festival program below, and prepare your body for levitation.

Levitation 2019, Austin, TX, phase one lineup:

11.07.19 – Angel Olsen, Devendra Banhart @ Stubb’s
11.07.19 – High On Fire, Power Trip @ Mohawk
11.07.19 – Kikagaku Moyo, Holy Wave, Minami Deutsch, Hoover iii @ Barracuda

11.08.19 – Deafheaven, Russian Circles, Brutus, Emma Ruth Rundle, Jaye Jayle, Lingua Ignota @ Empire
11.08.19 – Black Mountain, Kikagaku Moyo, Stonefield @ Mohawk
11.08.19 – Broncho, Death Valley Girls, Frankie & The Witch Fingers @ Barracuda

11.09.19 – John Cale, The Black Angels @ Stubb’s
11.09.19 – Chelsea Wolfe, Ioanna Gika @ Central Presbyterian Church
11.09.19 – Allah-Las, White Fence @ Empire
11.09.19 – Red Fang, Torche, Monolord @ Empire
11.09.19 – Acid King, Here Lies Man, Zig Zags, Warish, Blackwater Holylight @ Barracuda

11.10.19 – Kurt Vile & The Violators, Dinosaur Jr @ Stubb’s
11.10.19 – Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dallas Acid @ Mohawk
11.10.19 – A Place To Bury Strangers, The Kvb, Numb.Er @ Barracuda

Kurt Vile – “No Expectations” (The Rolling Stones Cover)

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Kurt Vile is still riding the wave of his folksy 2018 solo album, Bottle It In. Like any proper album cycle, there’s an odds-and-ends portion! … More »

Kurt Vile – “Timing Is Everything (And I’m Falling Behind)”

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Kurt VileKurt Vile, king of beautifully dazed Philadelphia slacker-rock, released his new album Bottle It In at the tail end of last year. And today, ahead of another run of tour dates, he’s back with a new standalone single for Amazon Music. “Timing Is Everything (And I’m Falling Behind)” is classic Kurt Vile, with … More »

Barack Obama Shares His Favorite Songs Of 2018

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Barack Obama was pretty transparent about his music tastes during his presidency, sharing playlists of what he was listening to throughout it, and last year he engaged in every middle-aged dude’s favorite activity: year-end lists! For 2018, he’s done it again and the former President has just shared aMore »

Watch Kurt Vile Play “Loading Zones” On Kimmel

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Kurt-Vile-on-KimmelOf all possible late-night shows, you’d think Jimmy Kimmel Live! would be the toughest one for Kurt Vile to play. After all, the bright, distracting lights and the aggressive corporate-sponsor logos of the Kimmel set would seem to clash with the deep, zoned-out vibe that Vile conjures. But Vile has been playing big festivals for … More »

Matt Berninger, Cass McCombs, Andrew Bird, & More Contribute Tracks To Free Songs For Swing Left Compilation

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Songs For Swing Left is a new compilation to raise money and increase awareness of the Swing Left campaign to help flip the United States’ House Of Representative blue in the upcoming midterm elections. It’s a running collection of songs, and it features contributions from the likes of Kurt Vile, Tim Heidecker, Jim … More »

Stream Kurt Vile’s New Album Bottle It In

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Kurt Vile - Bottle It InKurt Vile has had a signature sound for years, but Bottle It In — his seventh solo album, out today — is the first time that sound feels cemented, as if its parameters have been drawn. He’s reached that moment in a veteran career when he understands his strengths and is playing to them, refining … More »

Music Review: Kurt Vile – Bottle It In

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Kurt Vile

Bottle It In

[Matador; 2018]

Rating: 3.5/5

Kurt Vile has a strangely neutralizing way about him. The casual demeanor and nonchalant delivery of his song lyrics possess the ability to temper the profound to the prosaic, and to elevate the inconsequential to the noteworthy. Through him, crises turn to mere botherations, and annoyances rise to the rank of bona fide gripes. In short, Vile’s perspective maintains a certain equalizing property. We see this in 2015’s “Pretty Pimpin’,” wherein the song’s protagonist suffers the Kafkaesque indignity of waking up in someone else’s body only to find that weekdays have lost all discernible meaning and, worse yet, that the two men share the same grooming habits. Filtered through Vile’s distant half-drawl, these two revelations feel equally jarring and likewise irrelevant. “Pimpin’,” like so much of b’lieve i’m goin’ down, utilizes a muscular rhythm section and resolutely finger-picked guitar to apply a sense of direction to Kurt’s otherwise aimless vocals and lyrics.

But on Bottle It In, Vile’s seventh solo album, the singer’s surreal, dreamlike lyrics seem to pull away from his backing band’s alt-country orientation. There’s “Hysteria,” which owes some lyrical debt to Pixies’ “La La Love You” and includes lines about a man contracting rabies from his admirer and later jumping out of an airborne plane. Both songs use humor to undercut the fact that at the heart of these tunes is a genuine romantic suggestion, but in Vile’s case, the band’s metronomic drum machine and smoke-clouded atmosphere detract from the ostensible tongue-in-cheek tone of the song. “Check Baby” features a domineering synth track and hardass guitars to propel Vile’s standoffish voice, even while he uses turns of phrase like “What a whale of a pickle” or “We run like chickens from dickens.” And yet for all the incongruity here, it’s Kurt’s blasé delivery that works to compromise the rift between music and lyrics. He doesn’t care about the imbalance, so why should we?

However, Bottle’s more serious lyrics create a consonance between sound and sentiment that rivals some of Vile’s previous highs. “The mutinies in my head keep staying/ I take pills and pills to try and make them go away,” he explains on “Mutinies” with the defeated contrition of Isaac Brock on a more reflective Modest Mouse song. On the sparse “Cold Was the Wind,” Vile confesses over a bed of unnerving static: “On the plane, I’m drinking red wine/ ‘Cause like everybody else, I’m afraid to die/ Did I mention that I’m afraid of dying?” Here we see Vile wrestling with the rock & roll trope that claimed Buddy Holly and Ronnie Van Zant: the legendary death via airplane. But he walks back rock’s obsession with life’s ephemerality and death’s permanence, instead mollifying himself with a glass of pinot (not hard liquor or pills, as other famously doomed rockers would have preferred). On Bottle It In, Vile has learned how to strike a balance between anxious survivalism and detached fatalism.

The hallowed paradigm of drums-bass-acoustic guitar carries with it an implacable stoicism, which is why genres like country and folk are so easy to parody. There’s an assumed dignity to it, and for Kurt Vile to use this platform to voice his slacker grievances feels almost irreverent. But here on Bottle, he expands his arsenal to push the joke farther. We hear marimbas on “One Trick Ponies” and sci-fi synths on the closing instrumental “(bottle back).” This is an exercise in experimentation, safe though it may be, that compromises neither Vile’s nor his band’s pointed vision of windswept alternative folk. The album’s second half becomes noticeably more lo-fi as it draws to a close, with the band laying down instrumental nebulas into which Vile allows his voice to languidly recline. It’s a hazy ending to a bear of an album, but one that rewards those who stuck with it through the 80 or so minutes. But the paradox continues: Vile’s never sounded more like he’s had nothing to say, which is why it’s never felt more important that we listen.

Hear Kurt Vile On Marc Maron’s WTF

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Kurt VileHave you guys watched that Netflix series GLOW, the one about a real-life women’s pro wrestling production out of the Valley in the ’80s? It stars Alison Brie, and while watching Trudy from Mad Men learn how to piledrivers and shit is pretty weird, what I really can’t wrap my head around is Marc Maron … More »

Watch Kurt Vile Cover Tom Petty’s “Learning To Fly”

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Kurt Vile’s new album Bottle It In is out in just two days. In promotion of the release, the folk rocker stopped by SiriusXM today to perform “Bassackwards” and a cover of Tom Petty’s “Learning To Fly,” one of the most popular Petty songs among his music industry peers if ourMore »