October 27, 2008
When I was in my last year of high school (so i guess a few years ago now), sitting at my pc, I can’t remember how I heard of it but I downloaded Songs For a Blue Guitar, and thought it was pretty good. Heck, its given Mike Kinsella 5ish albums worth of songs (mainly No Good For No One Now) and its probably his favourite one. I remember liking it, not really shitting my pants over it, and not really talking to anyone about it.
Then one day, my good friend, the pube-bearded Joe “Jogurt” Clancy and I were discussing nothing and Red House Painters came up and I said I liked songs for a blue guitar and he said “I like Down Colorful Hill. Check it out, its so depressing especially the song Medicine Bottle. Lord Kill the Pain is so catchy”. I remember going home, listening to it and not liking it. At the time it was not something I could subscribe to, in regards to sound. Blue Guitar is was an acoustic-driven album which i was into. Colorful Hill was just a slew of slowcore with some very-military percussion, and I thought Lord Kill the Pain was OK. I remember hanging out at Joe’s place for a week in our victory lap and I’d occasionally hear that song being played.
Fast Forward some time, and I had been rocking Rollercoaster on a regular basis, and I thought “I’ll try it out again”. This time around I liked it more, especially after reading the lyrics. Some of the lyrics suffered from “This line could have used some work”, but the song that I think comes out perfect on all accounts is “Lord Kill the Pain”. Aside from having all the apparent themes of wanting to be alone and feelings of despair, its also such a catchy song with great lyrics. Songs like Medicine Bottle suffer from ladies underwear and Michael had nose piercings and blah blah blah, but I can’t find any real beef with any of the words in this song except maybe the whole thing about the pig drowning or whatever. Its such a song to relate to. We’ve all been jealous in relationships, we’ve all wanted to be alone, we’ve wished death on people, we’ve all wanted to relocate and start anew (or at least I have time and time again).
I feel like I was a touch harsh about failed lines, and I didn’t mean to be. They work in the songs, and its something that definitely went away after the first couple albums, they only really seem to appear on songs that were also recorded on their demo, indicating that the songs had been around for some time and you can tell Kozelek’s writing matured in every regard with songs on Red House Painters I (mainly songs like “Katy Song”, “Grace Cathedral Park”, “Mistress”, “Brown Eyes”[the 4-track demo version of this song featured on red perspective is so good. The song sounds so much better slowed down with the extra vocal track, but the way the studio version works with the band kinda falling in at the end is a great way to cap off a great album”) and just kept getting better even to this day.
Actually, Japanese to English is pretty balanced from a lyrical point of view, even though I can think of great lines from every song, I’m just saying. Fact: Every song on Colorful Hill are just remixed songs from the demo. Their Demo songs are pretty cool, especially some that never resurfaced (Or did as instrumental songs at the end of an EP, that worked better as instrumental)
Its so great that he still makes music. Anyways, here is a live version of Lord Kill the Pain from 1996 that beats out the Colorful Hill version, mainly because of the reworking and Mark’s vocals. Again, m4a. Itunes. Jason has Itunes, so why do I even write this.
His voice live really shines through, even more than on albums. A great example is mistress on KCRW (found on red perspective). Could you imagine had they been around a few years earlier, Ivo probably would have had him on the Mortal Coil albums? Probably would have been greater than the first two are, and I back that goth-rock-dream-pop collective.
October 27, 2008
If you look back to a couple posts ago (the first post), I was watching a couple ebay items. Well now they have ended and here were the results:
After 5 bids, Red House Painters I (aka Rollercoaster) ended at approx. 110 dollars canadian. Wow, I really high balled this one.
After 6 bids, Red House Painters II (aka Bridge) ended for about 80 bucks. I guess somewhere around this, thats the usual price of it, never a whole lot of movement.
I don’t think anything has surfaced on ebay yet for vinyl, give it a week or two and maybe we’ll have something good.
October 22, 2008
Whenever I talk to someone about this band, I feel the need to add that I don’t really care for Old Ramon. The first time I listened to the album it was right after listening to Ocean Beach, so obviously, it would sound bad compared to that masterpiece. I was bothered when flipping through the sad reminders board (where once or twice i’d try to advertise my now dead one man band) and there would be users talking about favourite albums and some would say Old Ramon or the first Sun Kil Moon LP because they didn’t like the earlier stuff. I assumed these people were either stupid, or just loved cock rock of some sort, not that Old Ramon is really rockin’ but it is definitely the most accessible from a sound point of view, even though the length of the average song is 5 or 6 minutes.
I think what made me check out the album second time around was hearing a live take of “Void” on Mark Kozelek’s little drummer boy live album. When Mark plays almost any song he has written live, he really works it differently. This is good and bad (bad, including his reworkings of “Michael”, “Katy Song” and when he plays Mistress because he can’t sing it well anymore… and when he plays “Drop”). The reworking of “Void” is great, but after a few listens of the ramon version, the ramon version is untouchable and could be one of the better red house painters songs post 1995 (not many to choose from though). Void is also one of the nicer songs Kozelek had written up to that point. The lyrics project a lot of positive feelings about love and feeling fulfilled, which is a change from the usual themes of despair and loneliness.
What turns me off from this album is all the acoustic driven folk songs. With the somewhat exception of “Michigan”, they sound like garbage (not the band, but i back their self titled album), to put it plainly. I mean, if you listen to songs for a blue guitar, it really built on what Mark was doing on Ocean Beach, and kinda raised the bar. Wop-A-Din-Din is boring, and he already wrote a song about a cat that blows this one out of the water and does it in under 2 minutes.
At a show in 1996 before playing “Michael”, Mark said something along the lines of “I tried so hard to cancel this gig theres so many reasons… i fell in love last night in Michigan, and I wanted to hang out with my girlfriend all day…”, and I always thought thats neat because this was around the time they had started writing Old Ramon, so you can think “wow around then was when he would have been writing the song Michigan”. Luckily, this song grew on me, even though I think the lyrics are kinda effortless or at least feel that way to me. The slide guitar overdub does it for me.
Between Days is a good one too, mainly because of its down tuned rock (even though its probably D# Major or something around there, it sounds bottom heavy so thats fun). It sounds extremely driving.
I have a really cool live version of “River” that lasts for 20 minutes. Get at me if you want to hear it. The demo version of Smokey featured on “Nights” is better than the Ramon one, but the Ramon one is the last good track.
Peter Svensson of Cardigans fame apparently recorded a cover of “Cruiser” and turned down the opportunity to produce and record Old Ramon. I’m not sure if this cover ever surfaced of its simply the “Malmo” version featured on Nights. The malmo version of cruiser is incredible. It sounds like something you’d hear on Easy Rock or some sort of adult oriented easily listening alternative radio station with DJs who have bad commercials. It totally works too with the words because its one of the other songs that deals with love in a positive light. I think there was 3 on the album. Yeah… Michigan, Cruiser, and Void, but in the opposite order.
Since I like this song, I uploaded both versions and you can pick one or both to like or dislike. They’re in m4a. You should have itunes, seeing as it is 2008 and all.
I’m not really accomplishing anything with this blog except giving Boston Jason a way to kill 5 minutes, and make fun of me afterward. He will probably be the only reader.
Play Hanoi Rocks and Social D:
October 20, 2008
I’m going to use this wordpress to spread the good word of the best band. I will use it to keep tabs on Kozelek related items, post live takes of songs, stories/interviews i have heard and read, interviews, records on ebay etc etc.
Speaking of records on ebay, someone in the UK is selling off I and II.
Red House Painters I is currently at 49.99 GBP (about 100 Canadian), 2 bids and has 4 or so days left. According to popsike, you could get this for about that a few years ago. I haven’t seen this lp surface in a while on ebay, but considering the first release went for about 160, I’m going to take an educated guess and say this lp will go somewhere between 150-200 dollars (Canadian), and it will be closer to the 200 mark.
Things to consider:
-This is the record that everyone makes a big deal about, and with good reason. The average fan will tell you (unless you encounter a fan who thinks old ramon is the shit) that this album is the best one, and with good reason. Its long, has a good range of songs going from drawn out slowcoredreampopsadcorewhathaveyou songs like “Mother” and “Funhouse”, two different versions of “Mistress” (clearly one of the finest moments of the album and of the band), folk oriented songs like “Take Me Out” and “Rollercoaster” and “Grace Cathedral Park” and other songs in that similar vein of what is mentioned above.
-Due to the length, its a double lp and those are always a bit more than others… I think
-Of all the records of theirs you see on ebay, I’d say this and the Shock Me EP are the ones that pop up the least. You’re always bound to see Old Ramon and Ocean Beach alot, but not this one.
Things to consider:
-Bridge is the least best of the albums, and they’re all great (When considering the 4AD releases at least). You should like Bridge, but you shouldn’t love it to pieces, and if you do, then that is OK.
-It is one that pops up on ebay at least once a month. Its a single LP, and like I said, the least sought after. It should be noted though it has one of the best RHP songs (Uncle Joe) and the best cover (Simon and Garfunkel’s “I am a Rock”). I love how “Evil” opens the album, because the guitar starts as barely inaudible after a few laughs and you hear the splash of a cymbal and the thump of a bass note/bass drum, and his voice comes in clear and delivers a great opening line to a rather dark and eerie album.
That made me feel good
PS, leave a comment telling me which songs the wordpress URL came from, and the title of the blog, and i’ll send you a live set from 1997.