Kurt Vile and the Violators: it’s a great name isn’t it? On hearing it I was convinced that latest album, Smoke Ring For My Halo, was the work of some fuck-witted thrash metaler, but its dreamy acoustic psychedelia and Leonard Cohen-esque enunciation quickly insinuated itself into my best of 2011 list. The name is also a double entendre. Kurt Weill (pronounced Vile), as my dad pointed out, was a German-Jewish composer famous for his belief that music served a socially necessary purpose. So perhaps it is more apt than it might seem.

Vile he is not though that’s for sure. He walks out looking like a rakish, long, wavy-haired Guns N’ Roses fan doing his first school performance, which would be charmingly amateurish, if he wasn’t anything but that (he’s actually 31 years old). In fact, his live performance is a note perfect rendition of his recorded material. Some would find this robotic, I love it. Despite the impression from Smoke Ring For My Halo that Vile is some sort of stoned layabout, ‘Jesus Fever’ and ‘On Tour’ prove that he is actually the consummate professional.

Lyrically, he is neither obscure nor vague (like Radiohead) nor witty nor urbane (like Morissey), but quietly reflects on his life with honesty and integrity, which is an unusual mix for a musician. So when he sings about being with his girlfriend on ‘Baby’s Arms’ it is nowhere near as cheesy as perhaps it should be.

The encore sees the highpoint of the show as Vile is deserted by The Violators and does a solo acoustic rendition of ‘Peeping Tomboy’. In reality Vile’s greatest strength is his ability to finger-pick poignant melodies on his guitar. I briefly wonder if Vile is actually violated by The Violators, but that seems unfair. True, it’s great when they are rocking out on ‘Puppet To The Man’, but ultimately The Violators are there to augment Vile’s creative nous, which they do expertly. And there’s so much to work with!

Chris Gilliver

I started out writing for the Manchester Evening News as a freelance journalist back in 2008. The idea that I would be given free access to music and gigs seemed somehow miraculous to me, and I proceeded to take full advantage of the situation. When the M.E.N. decided to constrict its coverage to only the very biggest bands, Simon Poole approached me with a plan to make sure that all the very talented musicians of this world that pass through and/or live in Manchester would not go unnoticed. As the New Releases editor here at Silent Radio Towers, it remains my proud duty to cast a critical eye over the music and reviews that come my way in a manner that is both supportive and fair. Above all, I strive to write as entertainingly possible. Favourite musicians include the Pixies, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Mercury Rev, Os Mutantes, The Knife, Beach House etc etc. I'm a firm believer that all genres (except nu-metal) contain music of great quality...