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Lord, Kill the Pain: The Mark Kozelek Chronicles

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(this post for now is just me messing with some of the tools available here)

 

Red_House_Painters_-_Down_Colorful_Hill.

 

Down Colorful Hill

By Red House Painters

 

Mark's very first outing is an animate thicket of bummed-out San Franciscan fog, all molasses tempos and smeary guitars, none of it brought any levity by young Mark's strained voice narrating some real depressing shit. Honestly, I've never gotten nearly as much out of this as I have from much of the rest of Mark Kozelek songbook, but still: it's its own kind of minor masterpiece (Hoogie's favorite koz LP, yes?)

 

Legend has that the completed album was nothing more than slightly-dressed up demos that were submitted to 4AD, iirc, noticed by one Ivo Watts of "I Watched the Film The Song Remains the Same" fame. So impressed was Watts with it that he brought RHP to the world, which was a rather good thing of him to do. The production I think shows what a raw attempt this whole thing really was, for better and worse. It's thin and reverby and a bit anemic-sounding throughout, not helped imho by Young Mark, who was certainly already an evocative singer, but that skill would become far more developed later on. 

 

Here we've got the first few RHP classics in the title track and "Medicine Bottle," and I'd argue for "24" in that same class as well. 

 

I'd be depressed too if I had to sleep in that bed on the cover, looks real uncomfy. 

Klee and tcap like this

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those first three tracks, so good but i'll admit that i don't go further than down colorful hill, only because the cathartic effect of the first three usually has me begging for mercy and happier times 

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It's a good record, agreed on the "thin" sounding production, but it does give it a certain feel that his other records don't necessarily have. The second half loses me a bit, but to go along with Ody, it could be that the first half just absolutely kills me, so I'm less inclined to stick around for the whole thing. Next time I listen I should try the second half first, see if it has the same effect. "Medicine Bottle" is one of my favorite songs of his, and the title track is excellent as well.

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It took me a little while to come around to the second side nearly as much as the first, but a lot of that had to do with the first three songs being just that strong.  "Lord Kill the Pain" has a pretty killer bridge that I didn't notice on the first listen or two when I was kind of hung up on the chorus.

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whether or not I'm reading too much into things, I think Lord Kill the Pain was one of the first signals of kozelek's sense of humor, or at least gives you the idea that this guy knows what he's doing. it's so over the top lyrically.

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just in case you mistakenly thought I was going to do this chronologically...

 

51ivPMRGj9L._SS500_.jpg

Perils From the Sea

by Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle

 

For my money, this is the best LP koz has put his name on this side of Admiral Fell Promises (more on that untouchable masterpiece soon I expect). While it seems this is doomed to be a one-off, they really made one hell of a go for it here. 

 

I think critical to the success of this album was that koz was able to focus all of his energies on the stories, here, what with jimbo handling (to my understanding) the entirety of the instrumentals. I would never have believed that this would have worked out as well as it did -- when it was first announced I felt it'd be a morbid curiosity at best. koz in his talky period singing on top of synthesizers, what will they think of next?

 

but damn, everything worked out for the best. by this point you're either hot or cold on the minutiae-a-minute narratives koz has been slinging for the past couple of years -- perils here is very much a part of that heritage, but I think it works wonderfully here because these songs are given so much room to breath and stretch, many of them filling up more than 6 minutes, languid and dusty and oddly timeless. it's just as much a credit to mark as it is to jimmy, who crafted a really perfect bed for all of this.

 

favorites here would be "Gustavo," which is undoubtedly the most heartbreaking song about a migrant contractor ever written; "You Missed My Heart," which is koz's best character song to this point (PLEASE dude, write more of these); and "Somehow the Wonder of Life Prevails," which beats all of Benji at its own game. 

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Hah, was afraid to discuss more recent Koz albums because I thought this was going to be in order.

 

Still need to give Perils from the Sea more time, I like a few individual songs on it but I haven't devoted a whole lot of listens toward the whole thing.

 

You don't have to answer this if you want to post about it at a later time, but how do you feel about Benji? It seems a little baffling to me that it became a bit of a critical darling instead of some of his other records, but I still really enjoy it. It's an odd record for certain, though. I'm not against his more recent penchant for "minutiae-a-minute" narratives because I think they successfully walk a fine line between poignant and absurd for the most part, but some of his decisions leave me scratching my head.

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You don't have to answer this if you want to post about it at a later time, but how do you feel about Benji? It seems a little baffling to me that it became a bit of a critical darling instead of some of his other records, but I still really enjoy it. It's an odd record for certain, though. I'm not against his more recent penchant for "minutiae-a-minute" narratives because I think they successfully walk a fine line between poignant and absurd for the most part, but some of his decisions leave me scratching my head.

 

I'll say for now that it's my least favorite album under the Sun Kil Moon name, despite there being a couple of all-timers on there, namely "Carissa" and "I watched the film..."

 

and indeed, it is weird as hell seeing it get a 9+ on pitchfork etc. I don't exactly know how that happened, but I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that it's simply an easy album to write about -- veteran cult-y songwriter opens the floodgate of emotions, sings about life and love, disturbingly honest! etc. etc. There is a factor of unexpectedness at play there too, just breaking the mold of what your casual listener expects from Mark Kozelek at this point.

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Thanks for this thread CI

I have a certain attachment to Down a Colorful Hill because it was the first Koz album I really properly got into. Really enjoy the 'raw' sound of it. That only really comes up in some of the other RHP demos I've heard.

 

Still haven't gotten into Perils From the Sea

 

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Listening to early RHP stuff and more recent Koz work back to back is pretty jarring.

 

Can't wait to hear your take on Ocean Beach, CI. Might be my favorite of his now.

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Before you review Ocean Beach (and the last 2 tracks on that album might indeed be his best ever) I just want to say I agree with your assessment of Perils. Lavalle has always been a shitty IDM meets post-rock also- ran but for some reason the dour and expansive electronic backdroppings on this album he created were the ones that accompanied Kozeleks newfound hyperrealistic style the best. They should team up for more albums but unfortunatly Lavalle probably wants to punch Kozelek in the face at this point.

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yeah I remember checking out a few Album Leaf records when Perils was announced and I remember being all :( but his work there really sounds nothing like what ended up on this lp. really hit the nail on the head. 

 

will go for Ocean Beach later tonight probably.

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ghost of the great highway is usually agreed upon as a good "starting point," and I def don't disagree with that, but it's not my favorite of his. it's definitely really wonderful, what with "duk koo kim" and all, so yeah. I might also recommend songs for a blue guitar.

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Starting with Ghosts might be a good way to start to be honest. Duk Koo Kim is a top 3 Koz song for me.

 

Rollercoaster is good too. Though it's not as easy to listen to as Ghosts.

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Red_House_Painters_-_Ocean_Beach.jpg

 

Ocean Beach

by Red House Painters

 

Dunno how to even start this blurb. this is one of my favorite records ever, so I'll start with that I guess. skipping the two rhp self-titled lps kinda leaves a context gap here but maybe that's for the best.

 

so, red house painters started as really, really gloomy bastards, but kozelek got better at letting the light poke through, and struck one of the finest balance there with Ocean Beach here. Yet it's totally unlike any of his other records, and I think that's part of what makes it so special. It is probably the only koz record you could describe as "breezy." You have the bouncy (see?) "Cabezon" opening things up, drifting in and setting the scene as some kind of strung out beach jam. chillwave dudes could learn a lot from this one, maybe. 

 

"Summer Dress" is haunting and beautiful, but it's "San Geronimo" where things get going for real, this song being maybe the happiest medium between the murky, long-ass jams on his first few lps and crazy horse seance stuff later on, like "make like paper." really special and kinda unique track in his catalog. call it his "like a hurricane" maybe.

 

"shadows" is a slightly strained piano ballad, and again a bit of an outlier for him in general, but it works nicely. "over my head" is a back porch jam, and you get maybe your first peek at koz's inner dickhole when he jeers his guitar player for being out of tune in the studio banter.

 

but the back half of this lp. best stretch of koz music there ever was. "red carpet" is a bit blah by it's lonesome, but that's not what it's about here, instead it's the perfect lead in to "brockwell park," a stark, minimal ballad with one of his best ever vocals backed by blotted out feedback and lonely acoustic. "moments" picks up where "san geronimo" left off and flips the script, a slow build from nothing to supernova.

 

and then there is "drop." this is his most heartbreaking song, I think. the lyric is among his best, visceral, spiteful and direct, but that it's all built atop one of his most simply beautiful compositions makes it devastating. stick around for the hidden track, which is a reprise of "brockwell" park, bringing things full half-circle and sending you to the stars before the disc ends.

 

so yeah that's ocean beach. that's already a lot of purple prose so, bye.

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Strangely enough, I prefer the first half of Ocean Beach to the second. Love "San Geronimo" and "Over My Head". Probably need to give the longer songs at the end another chance to hit me.

 

Great write-up.

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What's the C.I. take on Shock Me EP?  Was stoked to find I had some vintage Koz I hadn't yet heard yet on my ipod (of course I haven't bothered with Bridge yet so what am I talking about.)  I thought it was fantastic and makes me think he should just cover shitty classic rock and make it awesome from now on instead of penning songs about Newton/first lay/his hotel room.

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Shock Me was a KISS track.  I know he did a full cover album of AC/DC under his own name which I should probably check out.  They're not my thing but for a few tracks but I wouldn't go so far as calling them shitty no.

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What's the C.I. take on Shock Me EP?  Was stoked to find I had some vintage Koz I hadn't yet heard yet on my ipod (of course I haven't bothered with Bridge yet so what am I talking about.)  I thought it was fantastic and makes me think he should just cover shitty classic rock and make it awesome from now on instead of penning songs about Newton/first lay/his hotel room.

 

it's good yeah. sundays and holidays is great. he did a whole album of AC/DC covers, what's next to the moon, under his own name in 01 I think. it's good stuff, plan on covering it later on sometime. 

 

e: as you just mentioned! 

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