Kurt Vile
As far as “Best Album of 2015” lists go, few entries were as widespread as Kurt Vile‘s b’lieve i’m going down, his sixth studio album. He will make his debut at The Greek Theater in Berkeley on Friday and return Saturday in support of another widespread favorite: Alabama Shakes.

On Thursday, though, Vile will be warming up for The Greek at his own headlining show at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz. Co-founding former member of the washy lo-fi party synth band The War On Drugs, Vile’s focus has proven successful — at the very least, it is being noticed.

He loses the oozin’ ahhs (albeit not entirely) for a stripped-down, cleaner tone. SPIN, listing the “mumble-mouthed” album at number 29 on their list of 50, wondered how long Vile will continue to squeeze “daze” into his song titles. American Songwriter put him at number 27 in their “Best Of” songwriting edition for the endearing track “That’s Life, Tho (Almost Hate To Say).”

The clever wordplay and phrasing of the tune “Pretty Pimpin” won accolades with NPR and the album a number 23 spot out of 50 with PitchforkRolling Stone put it at 19 for its living-room level intimacy, where Vile’s “squashed-brained philosophizing seems like a wonderful parlor game and couch-surfing sounds like an excellent vacation option.”

Paste, who ranked him highest of all at 13, called him the ultimate slacker for his deep insights punctuated by bedroom humor, a self-proclaimed Childish Prodigy. We have yet to ever witness his best, but he is definitely getting there.

If you’re bummed about the sold-out Alabama Shakes shows, definitely consider a trip over the hill for a soulful evening with Kurt Vile and the Violators. They may have yet to offer their best, but you’re likely to be impressed. Supporting Vile in Santa Cruz is San Francisco-based group Heron Oblivion.

Kurt Vile and the Violators, Heron Oblivion
The Catalyst
August 11, 2016
9pm, $24 (16+)

Alabama Shakes, Kurt Vile and the Violators
The Greek Theatre
August 12 & 13, 2016