Kurt Vile is a lo-fi indie rock singer/songwriter from Philadelphia who made his commercial recording debut in 2008 to much critical fanfare. Based in Philadelphia, Vile grew up outside the city in the nearby town of Lansdowne. His passion for music was encouraged by his father, a bluegrass aficionado who bought him a banjo. Vile eventually advanced from the banjo to other instruments, primarily guitar, and began writing songs that he would record at home. These lo-fi home recordings, often featuring drum machines and other one-man-band, lo-fi adornment, were compiled on a series of CD-Rs that Vile would release in limited editions. Meanwhile, in addition to his solo work, Vile began collaborating musically with singer/guitarist Adam Granduciel in 2003. Calling themselves the War on Drugs, Vile and Granduciel released an eponymous demo EP in 2005. Over time the War on Drugs grew to become a full-scale band, and following another self-released EP, Barrel of Batteries (2007), they made their full-length album debut with Wagonwheel Blues (2008) on the Secretly Canadian label.
Around this same time, Vile made his commercial recording debut as a solo artist with Constant Hitmaker (2008), a full-length release on the Gulcher label. Comprised of home recordings previously released on CD-R plus new material (most notably the standout studio recording "Freeway"), Constant Hitmaker was at first something of a sleeper hit in the indie rock underground. While some online publications were quick to champion it as one of the more notable albums of the year, it wasn't until 2009, when Constant Hitmaker was reissued by the Woodsist label, that Vile began garnering widespread accolades. In the midst of the acclaim, Vile released the mini-album God Is Saying This to You? on the Mexican Summer label and the Hunchback EP on Richie Records. Vile switched to premier indie label Matador for his second and third “proper” albums, 2009’s Childish Prodigy and 2011’s Smoke Ring for My Halo.