joe kile - "so many nights"
joe kile is a singer-songwriter based out of new orleans, and his artistic swing on the process challenges many perveyors of the "song" - not just the stitch and wit he creates, but with the actual structures formed therein. joe seems to stir up a whole lot out of a just a little. plus he can write a damn fine tune in line with the best of them, and dances with the ghosts of those songwriters past. his last album "southern beauty queen" was a real gem. dusty, lonesome, and deliberate. for those of you who have gotten your hands on one of the (very) limited vinyl copies - this tape was seemingly molded from the sounds of the dead wax between each of those songs. short framents and simple strums coincide with quips and tape edits. some songs achieve form, while others barely even reach an apex, before they come crashing down, or are more or less aborted...still they all carry thier weight individually and also work together to form a mysterious and enchanting whole.
"so many nights"
"feeling so tired"
"heat of misery"
"i heard it when you called me / living on mars / it always leaves me feeling lonely"
"balloon / firey red / glass bulb"
"you n' me / bad time"
"bend and peel"
"c'mon baby / amanda / bldg. 259"
"sometimes all the words come out wrong"
It's not too often I end up with a tape like Joe Kile's in hand. I mean the cassette world of raging noise, euphoric tones, grimey rock & roll, 70s analog synth revivalists, wingnut instrument abusers etc. is awesome and I love all those sounds. But you know what? Sometimes there's nothing better than popping in a tape of sweetly classic folk tunes.
I mean there's not really an angle to take on Joe Kile. He's not a certified outsider weirdo, or at least his music doesn't give me that impression. He doesn't bury his songs in lo-fidelity scuzz or howl demented lyrics. He just writes some good songs.
Released on Baltimore's Unread label, Kile crams 20 tracks onto a c32. The lead off "title track" features a far away thump-crash rhythm and the occasional six string embellishment. Proving to be a defining characteristic throughout the album, Kile's voice and its gentle twang is the center of the action with perfect, subtle accompaniment from the instrumentation. "Feeling So Tired" has a nice organ procession as a weary Kile hums "I'm so tired of feeling so tired." "Heat of Misery" is absolutely my favorite. It's one of the most "country" tunes and it's quite an elegant, understated ballad about the death of a relationship. Kile is at his best lyrically, speaking as an omniscient narrator delivering poetic commentary and even manages to squeeze a guitar and banjo solo in there too. The gently warbling organ of "Feeling So Tired" appears on "I Heard it When You Called Me" but the whole thing cut offs after a half minute. "Living on Mars" changes things up considerably with a super crunchy electric guitar that practically drowns out Kile's voice.
Kile cuts through the next bunch of tracks quickly. "Balloon" is brief and nearly an a capella. "Firey Red" in addition to a dirty guitar, muffles Kile's drawl in fuzz. "Glass Bulb" is one of the bigger head turners as all of a sudden you're dropped into a crispy disco beat louder than both the guitar and voice. Just as quickly you're yanked out for "You n' Me" a plaintive ballad about "doin' some honkin' tonkin' just like old times" which features quite a pretty piano/organ arrangement in the outro. The instrumental "Bad Time" is an odd guitar/organ pastiche and closes the side.
The second side opens with "Bend and Peel" which is an a.m. radio pop tune basically. Jaunty strums, jaunty drum machine and even jauntier organ stabs make for an incredibly buoyant pick-me-up that contrasts well with Kile's typical mellow, wearied style. One of the finer tunes on the tape. A dose of warbly strings make their presence known on the brief "Takin' Off". "Southern Heat" ought to be climbing the charts with its timely topic; "You can't beat Southern heat" is a refrain many would agree with. "North Brook" features a searing little riff which Kile cools down with his soft coo. "Old Tom" vacillates between fragmented strings and becoming a rising stomper. The closer, "Sometimes All the Words Come Out Wrong" is another good one. It's one of the more layered arrangements on the tape with multiple guitars and organ cascading and subsiding, and it's all the better for it.
The criticism I have to level at So Many Nights, is it's put together pretty roughly and cramming so many songs into a short amount of time causes some to bleed together. Maybe that's the idea, bleeding together like memories from so many nights. Either way, a significant amount of songs don't hit (or barely hit) the minute mark so quite a few feel underdeveloped. There's certainly a gap between the best, most developed songs and less developed ones. The fact that songs are often cut off a tad prematurely due to the dubbing causes things to be a occasionally jarring as well. Those points said, they are small complaints. I am glad I have this tape and have been introduced to Kile's work, perhaps he's the sort that puts out more polished records and then scrappy, rough-hewn tapes like this.
It's hard to pinpoint a good reference point because Kile's style is so classic and steeped in tradition; he sounds like everyone, in a good way. I'm thinking his music is maybe a little like Pumice but thoroughly inspired by Americana? I may just be reaching for a comparison there but Kile is a voice worth hearing if you like classic Western song forms on cassette. Unread seems to be quite a neat little label as well. Check 'em both out! - AUXILARY OUT