By now, the Indie Rock world has become well acquainted with Kurt Vile. In the past few years, the Psych/Folk Rock-playing Philadelphian's been signed to independent heavyweight Matador Records, toured his ass off and released a couple of idiosyncratic records. But before the guitarist/vocalist established his rep through solo happenings, he was part of The War on Drugs, a placid, Americana-leaning group. With the New Age Indie Pop of Nightlands, one of Vile’s old comrades — to be specific, bassist Dave Hartley — aims to find another audience past TWOD. Having also served in and alongside Philly projects like B.C. Camplight and Buried Beds, Nightlands initially existed as a bedroom project for Hartley, but the multi-instrumentalist has since fleshed it out as a five-piece for shows.
Nonetheless, the nucleus of the project is still very much his baby, at least in this young stage.
Hartley’s work in Nightlands draws off elements plucked from both childhood tapes his father “made in Korea in the ’60s” and cassette recordings he’s created to document his dreams and nightmares. Nightlands’ debut from last November, Forget the Mantra, arrived caked in a fanciful, transcendental dust. In “God What Have I Done,” Hartley repeats the titular phrase as a meditative mantra instead of a painful plea, filling it with divinity and a kind of sweetness that’s tough to pin down. This fantastic chill-out music resembles how Animal Collective would approach covering Elton John’s contributions to The Lion King soundtrack. Nightlands’ future is real promising.Yet even if the project fizzles out, Hartley probably has a fleet of other musical currents to chase after. He seems eager to stay busy. Later in the evening of the Southgate House show, Hartley will pick up the bass and play with headliner Sondra Lerche. And Slave Ambient, The War on Drugs' latest record, hits Aug. 16.
NIGHTLANDS plays the Southgate House Tuesday, June 14 with guests SONDRE LERCHE and KISHI BASHI. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.