Greensboro indie label Three Lobed Recording’s latest edition to its series of EP splits features one of the best indie singer/songwriters working today: Kurt Vile. He’s got title billing (but Gunn plays on all tracks, too) on the first four songs on this EP, which was released on December 11, 2015—just a few days too late for my end-of-the-year list. And it would have made it.
The first song, Pretty Boy, is a Randy Newman cover that feels like an original Kurt tune—the lyrics could easily be his, but the way he plays it is a tribute to nobody; he owns it like it was his own. Way Back Then is a cover, too, of John Prine. The we get Red Apples, which is a reworking of an earlier Vile tune, and NPR regject—a sweet little instrumental that showcases how well Steve and Kurt play together. Gunn’s songs are very good, too—60/40 is a cover of an old VU and Nico song, and Spring Garden is a ten minute opus.