Folk rocker Kurt Vile has signed with Verve Records, the prestigious label that released records for jazz legends like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, as well as inventive rock musicians like Frank Zappa’s The Mothers of Invention and The Velvet Underground. Vile and Verve have plans to release his next record sometime in 2022.
Vile had released most of his albums with Matador, including his previous record Bottle It In (2018) and his October 2020 EP, Speed, Sound, Lonely KV. Before Matador, some of his earlier releases came out through Mexican Summer, and he’s worked with other labels for his collaborations with Courtney Barnett and Steve Gunn, but he had never released his music through a major label until now. Verve Records was originally a subsidiary of MGM Records and is now owned by Universal Music Group.
“I’ve admired the Verve logo on the back (and front!) of many a Velvet Underground album since my teens.” Vile stated, “I think my previous album Bottle It In is my deepest record and I’m still really proud of it. I’m excited to release its follow-up on Verve. It’s been a crazy f***in year and I’ve got hundreds of songs and ideas in the can, on paper, and in tape recorders all strewn about the ‘kv zone’… nuggets recorded before-and-after pandemic times… in studios and from home… music past, present and, yup, we’re still rolling. It’s gonna be heavy, it’s gonna be beautiful… and it’s gonna be out there.”
Verve and Impulse! Records’ executive vice president Jamie Krents added, “I’ve been a massive fan of Kurt’s for years and feel beyond lucky to have him join the Verve roster. Simply put, he’s one of my favorite artists and songwriters of any era and he makes timeless records.”
While Verve is still known for its control of part of the catalogs of late great artists like Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Oscar Peterson, Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan, they have plenty of other new talents too. Currently, they have young jazz prodigy Joey Alexander, soul/jazz musician Jon Batiste, Christmas jazz specialist Harry Connick Jr., jazz pianist/vocalist Diana Krall, soul singer Bettye LaVette and comedian-turned-Frank-Sinatra-imitator Seth MacFarlane. They also previously released Blake Mills’ 2014 album Heigh Ho and his 2020 album Mutable Set, and Mills is likely the most similar contemporary artist to Kurt Vile that they’ve worked with.
Vile got his start making his own home recordings in the early 2000s, and was able to find the spotlight after a few years of playing with The War On Drugs from 2005-2008. His official debut album Constant Hitmaker (2008) made him out to have always been a folk star, and a few years later he had a couple of hits rivaling the popularity of the new songs his old War On Drugs bandmates were putting out, particularly 2013’s “Walkin On a Pretty Day” and 2015’s “Pretty Pimpin.” Bottle It In found him still on top of his game, featuring chill yet rockin’ songs like “Loading Zones,” “One Trick Ponies” and “Bassackwards.”
Photo credit: Stephen Hoffmeister