Wednesday, 24 May 2017

May #3: If It's Wednesday, Mark Kozelek Probably Has A New Album Out

3. Sun Kil Moon - Seventies TV Show Theme Song

I gave this post that title as a jokey reference to the fact that Mark Kozelek has now stolen Prince's crown as the most (over?)-productive songwriter / musician in the music business. I mean, this guy makes Ryan Adams look like Evan Dando. (That's a muso joke. I figure I can get away with  a muso joke on a Sun Kil Moon post.) Ironically though, as I sat down to write about the new Sun Kil Moon album - which, to be fair, came out in February, so I admit to being behind the curve - I discovered Kozelek had actually released another new record that very day (a second collaboration with ex-Godflesh rocker Jesu). Keeping up with Mark Kozelek is becoming a full time occupation: I may have to quit my job.

The weird thing is, I only really got into Kozelek a couple of years back when Steve recommended Benji as one of his favourite albums of 2014. I fell in love with that album and MK's rambling, stream of consciousness narratives about all the people who'd died in his life in the last few years. For an album centred around death it was both very funny and packed with honest human detail. It sounded real. Realer than Richie Manic carving '4 Real' into his arm, albeit not quite as rock 'n' roll.

Since then, I've gobbled up anything I could get my hands on from Kozelek, some of which has left me cool (Benji's immediate follow-up, Universal Themes), some of which left me more than pleasantly surprised (Mark Kozelek Sings Favourites, last year's piano-based covers album which I listened to for about 6 months).

Which brings us to Common As Light And Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood, which could well be as good as Benji, though in a very different way. It's a lot funnier than Benji, for a start. Kozelek has refined the rambling to the point it sounds like a well-planned stand up routine in places. Elsewhere, it's as dark and angry and personal as you'd expect. All human life is here, from hometown nostalgia to true crime to Donald Trump to transgender bathrooms to the nice letter a promoter sent Mark one time after a show. Whatever Kozelek wants to sing / talk / rap about, he does... often in the same song. Because he does not have an off button. This album has 16 tracks, the shortest of which is just over 5 minutes in duration. The longest, almost three times that. Listen to the whole album in one go and... well, I've been on shorter holidays. If Mark Kozelek hadn't become a songwriter, he'd have been an excellent blogger.

This is a record I've enjoyed a lot over the last few weeks, and I suspect I'll keep listening to it for a good long while because there's so much in it to discover. It's also a lot more immediate than some of his other albums. I didn't have to work at it; tracks like the one below, I loved the first time I heard them. Maybe you will too. I dunno... maybe not.


  1. ha, yes it is (almost) a full-time job keeping up with his albums these days. I too love Benji which is arguably a modern classic. You make his latest sound interesting, with its blend of humor and darkness etc.

    1. I was starting to think Benji was a bit of a one-off. This has restored my faith somewhat.

  2. Now THIS is a quality song, those lyrics are very clever.

  3. It pains me to calculate exactly how far I go back with Mark Kozelek - those first Red House Painters albums came out in the early 1990's, gulp. In recent years I've particularly enjoyed 'Admiral Fell Promises', 'Perils from the Sea' and 'Mark Kozelek & Desertshore', but I've missed out on so many along the way, including this latest LP, which certainly sounds like a good 'un from your recommendation and the tune you've shared.
    Busy though Mark is, he still has some way to go to catch up with King Creosote who has released nearly 50 albums since 1998 and Richard Youngs whose nearly 200 albums since 1990 surely defies even the most devoutly completest of fans.

  4. Well, you've been at this a lot longer than me, then. You must be exhausted.

    Yes, the sheer amount of KC records has proved daunting for a newbie.


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