September 3, 2009
With the addition of two more live albums that came out recently, Mark Kozelek has released more live records than red house painters released records. Well wait, pretty close. With the addition of these 2, we’re at 5 live albums of some sort. We’ve got Little Drummer Boy, White Christmas, 7 Songs Belfast, and now we add Lost Verses, and Find Me Ruben Olivares- Live in Spain to the list.
These live albums are nice, it serves as something to tie us over until the next Sun Kil Moon record. However, on Little Drummer Boy and White Christmas, they only serve small bits of goodness for me. On each record, I find there are a couple incredible instances captured. On Little Drummer Boy, we get a very bare, and lovely version of All Mixed Up, originally by the cars. If you listen with headphones, you can hear the pick foll against the strings on each strum of the chords, and it sounds like a sigh of relief on the ears. His voice is top notch, hitting all those louder parts on cue and definitely on point. Sometimes I still get bothered by the bore or drone of his low voice these days. He often winces at the thought of his voice during the days of Red House Painters, which was just over 15 years ago, but that could be him at his best. I mean, on an album like “Rollercoaster” we get a healthy dose on all accounts. “24” was that first real instance of that drone, but it really came into effect on songs like Katy Song, or the piano version of Mistress or Strawberry Hill, but I digress. Another big moment on Little Drummer Boy is Carry Me Ohio, which sounds like it was done with a second guitarist (possibly Phil Carney? Yes.) Even though he draws away from hitting those higher notes on the “Carry Me Ohio” part, I’ll take it. The guitar line flows so nicely.
White Christmas contained some gems as well. A song called “Admiral Fell Promises”, a fine example of a love song by Kozelek. We don’t get many of those, so we need to cherish them. This one has some memorable lyrics that don’t come without some lingering memories of melancholy, such as “a thousand days have passed in this house she and i were sharing and i hate myself for it but i have stopped caring”. Simple yes, but haven’t we all felt that once before? I hope we see something come from this, even though its eight years later. Before we’re treated to the awkward A Capella’s of dragonflies and three legged cat, we’re treated to solo versions of Shadows and Evil. Shadows is executed almost flawlessly, but with the replacement of the word “sorry” for “stupid” just doesn’t jive with me. It sounds out of place. His voice suits this version well though, I’ll take it. Evil. Fuck. Evil. Just him and his guitar, and its still pulled off. It sounds haunting as ever before. His voice doesn’t hold back, and its perfect. Just perfect. When he sings the lines about looking evil, I feel it. He stays true to the original riffs of the song and that helps. He tends to re-work RHP songs when performing them now, but this one he just lets it be played the way it should be.
With that being said, I am just going to get to reviewing these two albums:
We’ll start with the Live in Spain album, “Find Me, Ruben Olivares”. The album opens with Heron Blue, A song from “April” that I couldn’t stand. When Kozelek released the “Nights” compilation with a different version, I was happy. The “Drum Version” was much better. This version isn’t too bad, very simple, very quiet. Simple, for a bit, then we’re treated to that triplet finger picking style we know from Trailways and Blue Orchids. This was a nice surprise while listening. It works well. Next we get “Finally”, a Kath Bloom cover. Its pretty good, but there’s too much echo on Kozelek’s voice, and its sort of a bother. Also, sometimes I don’t want to hear covers, I’d rather hear him play his own. Now I know how people don’t feel when I play live shows and more than half my set is Red House Painters songs. Next is Lucky Man. His version of Lucky Man. Its not him covering ELP. This track isn’t too hot, in my opinion. Sounds a little de-tuned, but I can’t do better so its still a good job. Next is “New Partner”, a Will Oldham cover. I like it, even though 50% of the first four songs have been covers, this song is probably best of the 4 so far. Blue Orchids up next. I’m not big on this song, overall so I’m just gonna skip it. Sorry. But! Next we get “Send in the Clowns” and its played in that triplet style and it sounds good! This is a sad song and he does it justice.
Okay, we’re about halfway through. So far, I like two of the covers, and I’m not totally sold on any of the originals. I hope we have a turn for the better soon. Lets continue:
Next we’re treated to an original, a personal favourite of mine when it comes to his solo stuff or post red house painters material. Find Me, Ruben Olivares was featured on his first solo EP, “Rock n Roll Singer”, which contained one original?, some AC/DC covers, and a John Denver cover. Something like that. The studio version is amazing, I’d recommend you check it out. This live cut is great. I was afraid he’d cheat it on the voice but he puts the effort forth and hits those high notes. You can tell a bit that its a bit of high demand for him, but an A for effort and an A for achievement. Yeah, this one is great. Next we get… Trailways! He does a great job with it too. Straying a bit from the album version, but I don’t blame him. There’s a bit of pause, almost as if he doesn’t remember when to come in or doesn’t remember what he is doing with it. But when he does start with the opening line about Carolyn, he’s got it down pat. Its a bit rushed, but it happens. He doesn’t fall behind. Exceptional vocals on this as well. I find I’m so critical with his vocal delivery, but it can make or break songs in a lot of cases in the world of music. Next is “Moorestown”. This version is much like the version from Little Drummer Boy. Before April came out, this version was nice, because it was something new, something to look forward to. Then we heard the studio version, which is one the highlights of Sun Kil Moon’s catalogue to date. The overdubs, the voice, the string accompaniment. Breathtaking to say the least. So to hear this again, kind of a buzz kill. Next is something very cool though, “San Geronimo”. I love love love this song. I have this version of him playing it on a radio broadcast, just him and his guitar and its so stark and beautiful and his voice would just soar over the guitar. This version is busy with its finger picking, sounds like 2 guitars, probably with Carney since he was there when this was originally recorded. Actually no, he showed up in 95, but isn’t on the album. Its great. Refreshing. Glad this happened. There is the problem that his voice gets a bit drowned out by the guitar, but this happens. Next is a reworking of Summer Dress. Again, this is really great stuff. Accompanied by one set of strings. The guitar work is higher on the neck, as compared to the original whole step down tuning of the studio version, still ends on a minor note. Maybe Phil Carney played the strings? Next is Tonight in Bilbao. This is one of my favourite songs from April. The ending turnaround part in the last couple minutes on the album version always suckered me in. Another double guitar effort, this is spot on. This song is almost hypnotic. Lastly, is “Mistress”. I don’t know how I feel about it. I’m not big on the rolling guitar line, though the help of the second strumming guitar makes it bottom heavy, which is nice. Kozelek makes sure that his voice stays low, but doesn’t drone too much. I don’t like on all live and radio versions of Mistress I’ve heard the lines “your praise…stuffed me with” sounds rushed. Also his voice stays pretty stagnant, and doesn’t venture much. The KCRW version from Red Perspective was definitive. Kozelek’s voice is almost chilling on that cut, and it always sticks in my head when I hear other takes from live sets as of recent or from RHP shows in the 90’s. I don’t know, its ok I guess. Its better than other versions I’ve heard so I’ll give it that. They speed up at the end when Mark does his “ahh’s”
So lets see:
Stand Out Tracks:
Find Me, Ruben Olivares
Tonight in Bilbao
Thats a little bit over half the album, but on the strength of these songs and the fact that other songs aren’t total throw-aways, I’ll give this album a solid 7.8/10. I think that’s fair. Stay tuned and I’ll review Lost Verses.
Bonus Points for guessing the origin of the bracketed sections of the post title.
May 27, 2009
Expanding on my epic post about an epic album (Rollercoaster), Side 4 is overall a pretty epic selection of audio from this bands overall catalogue. If Mark Kozelek was David Lean, this side of the record would probably be his Lawrence of Arabia. While Mother isn’t a favourite of mine, its sprawling 14 minute length and the second half 7 minute build up definitely makes it deserving of a couple listens at the least. This record to me is probably some of the most darkest things they’ve churned out. Granted, The first 4 songs on Down Colorful Hill are among the most depressing and brooding of their material, but Mother is up there for some of the most eerie and borderline disturbing of material they’ve put out. The lyrics for the most part are just straight up uncomfortable.
“i want to be mothered
i want you to give
attention to my belly button
i want to have
boddy pins stuck in my ears”
I will give them that, when they played it live, it was easily one of the loudest moments of their live performance over the whole span of their playing shows. It was the one instance where they ended a song with a bang, rather than a whisper. Maybe one exception would be River or Make Like Paper. I love how the first half of the song doesn’t really build up much. It stays stagnant through and through, then fades out, then the second half really steps it up. I’m not really bringing anything new to the table with what I’m saying. But I’m just using this as a platform to talk about Strawberry Hill.
If you think Strawberry Hill is a good song, you’re on the right path. What you need to do is listen to the demo version and you’ll love it a whole lot more. I have serious issues with the version from the demo. Its too fast. The thing about the LP version is how it drones with the military style drumming Anthony provides on more than one song but gets it definitely right on this one. The pacing of marks vocals on the demo version are sucky, for lack of a better word. And he sings the whole song with a strain and is too expressive. He does it perfectly on the LP. Starts off small and gets big. The demo version has bad piano lines and these awkward parts with talking and strange instrumentation and noises that make it sound like some quasi-pixies experiment gone horribly wrong. While a lot of Kozelek’s lyrics are statements of the pain he is feeling, this one is one of the more autobiographically driven. It sounds like something he might have written early in his rather permanent stay on the west coast. I always liked this song, sort of related to it. I know what its like to want to stay in your room, and yes I am in fact afraid to drive. It doesn’t stray too far from the other songs about pain, there is definitely a woman figure in this song. There is someone who wants to help or maybe more than one.
On to more pressing matters, I won a copy of Down Colorful Hill. Do you know what this means? I’m one 12″ EP away from having all of the 4AD releases. Shock Me is gonna be a tough on to find, it hardly surfaces and does when I’m more broke than the dvd player in my Mom’s basement. I made Kait listen to the last 2 songs on DCH before bed, and she liked them. I’m not sure if it was willingly or begrudgingly but I’ll take it either way. They’re slowly growing on her, she stops making gross faces at the sound of their name. She’s at work right now, and I’m here alone with two dogs, and there’s some cut tofu in the kitchen but I’m not hungry enough to eat it and there’s laundry that needs to go into the dryer, and another load to go in the washer, and this bed needs to be made and the floor needs to be mopped and I have to break 100,000 points on Donkey Kong (Arcade). I’m close too, I can get 90,000 on a good run. That third elevator will be the death of me. I’m not good enough yet to do serious point pressing. I just enjoy that Mame offers a good replica of the Cabinet version. The NES version can go to hell. Kait has made claims of making apple crisp with me if I find a vegan friendly recipe. She watches Japanese movies with me, but good ones, not J-Horror. Thats for Joe and Payson (J-Whores). She treats me well.
April 30, 2009
I can’t think of many Double LP’s that I know and can enjoy all the way through with little to no filler. The thing that makes records like Filigree and Shadow or Red House Painters I AKA Rollercoaster such a successful effort is the layout and variety of the songs and how they flow.
I bring up filigree and shadow because Ivo was aiming for each side to play likes it own little EP and hates that the c.d release takes away from that, which I totally get. I’ve started to think of Rollercoaster as 4 little EP’s since I’ve gotten the vinyl version a few months back. When you listen to it from that perspective you start to really notice the variety this album offers.
The first side (or first EP which for this post we’ll refer to as the Grace Cathedral EP) is probably the greatest example of the overall sound of Red House Painters, contains a couple of the most accessible tracks of the 4AD era. The Grace Cathedral EP consists of the first 4 songs: Grace Cathedral Park/Down Through/Katy Song/Mistress. With these 4 songs you get a taste of everything Red House Painters can offer you. You get a couple of their more college-rock oriented songs, their totally downtempo slowcore sound, and an example of stark and haunting acoustic songs. These are also great examples of Kozelek putting his pain on display with no room for interpretation. The lyrics in these songs are as plain as day, clear as crystal. This guy is hurting. Mistress would go on to become a staple of their live shows, and especially in the post-4AD era, where it really shined. It was stretched out and Mark Kozelek would show off his vocal ability with the last half of the lyrics. Lets talk about the lyrics for a second. He pretty much covers all of the ground that is typical of his lyrics all related to a love in his life. He explores the feelings of fear and doubt with Grace Cathedral Park, as if it shouldn’t be expected that anyone would treat him with Kindness. When he’d sing the why are you like this live in 96/97 or on the 2001 tour, it gives me shivers, because the emotion in his voice would reach an all time high with that. Songs like Down Through and Katy Song don’t hold back feelings of lost love and loneliness. I really enjoy when Kozelek refrains from using metaphors or imagery that isn’t blunt, and these songs are a perfect example. When you hear him sing “where you walked away and left a bleeding part of me. Empty and bothered watching the water quiet in the corner numb and falling through”, it doesn’t get any clearer than that. Mistress is a bit different, but definitely brings back a theme of doubt with the song being about wanting someone new, definite feelings of zero satisfaction and hurt with the person he is with now. This is probably the strongest side of the 2xLP, but the record doesn’t lose steam if you’re patient.
Moving onto the second side, which we’ll call The Funhouse EP, this side is a bit more mish-mash. It contains what I believe to be the strongest and most moving song on the whole record, which is “Things Mean A Lot”. Starting with an eerie chord progression and lyrics about hurting a loved one and loss or the possibility of seperation (sounds like it could be about Katy, which was a source of inspiration of lyrics for Mark Kozelek, but who am I to say which songs are about her). Ever so softly comes in percussion and a delicate and simple piano line, and it comes after my favourite line of the song (“You threat to make me dead, but none of this will matter or surface again”) and comes in lines about a fear of distance (“Scares you to know that we won’t be watching the same sun or brooding the same thoughts”). The ending of this song sounds incredible epic without overdoing any part of it. Repeating the line “Things mean a lot, don’t mean nothing later” with that second guitar playing an unforgettable melody, and the continuation of the piano just playing root notes. Listen to that second guitar with really good headphones and you’ll hear 2 different things going on, and it will always be one of the most beautiful things I will be able to recall. Then unfortunately comes “Funhouse”. There are most likely a lot of people out there who enjoy this song, but I am not one of them. But the saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it too, so instead of harshing, I will just pick up the needle and move on. “Take Me Out” took a long time to grow on me. I was always kind of thrown off by its simplicity in the sense that its just a few simple chords. I think what does it for me is the additional female vocals. On a second glance of the lyrics, I see how hard hitting some of these lines and how close they hit to home for me. Especially the chorus: “if only you could take me out instead of back into a relationship i don’t understand.if only you could take me out instead of back into myself that’s dying within”. I wish I knew what he was referring to by “those holes”. More than likely a phone reciever or a speaker. It could be speakers because of the reference to music of this crazy time. I won’t spend much time mulling over it, because I will forget to listen to how pretty this song actually is. It definitely does come to fruition in the second half with the female “oohs”. I started to love the folk or church chords of this song. I got really tired of these kind of songs and its what lead to my falling out of liking Bob Dylan, but I am also unable to dig or relate to his lyrics. Of course I see the merit and the levels of introspection explored, but it just doesn’t translate into something more for me. I guess while Dylan will be the songwriter of a generation, Kozelek will be the songwriter for my time on this earth. I should also mention looking at the record as 2 LP’s, this is a perfect way to end the first record. Its nice and quiet, it fades out well, and when you pick it up to put on the second record and hear the fading in of side three, it feels like it hasn’t left just yet.
Now onto the Rollercoaster EP (Side 3). This side to me has always been the darkest. Its definitely the side that makes me think of grey skies or that in between time of the darkness that comes with the moon and the bright sky that leaves with the sun. The song “Rollercoaster” has always been a song that to me reflects the Dream Pop side of Red House Painters. That distored guitar that sounds like its been dipped in flange, with some of the drum patterns, really gives me a cocteau vibe but more natural sounding. This was another grower of a song for me, even just writing about it makes me appreciate it even more. Theres also a special significance to this song. Up to this point, songs from this album and Down Colorful Hill have always been a way to reflect for Kozelek, but this song really showcases his growing obsession with the power of memory and almost being brought back to the present time or the end of an event and being forced to continue with lines like “reminding me i’ll never be able to relive this day except in memory”, and “but where’s dad and where is mom? looks like from here on out it’s just me and you”). When it comes to the power of memory, this song ranks up there with San Geronimo, but I think this song is definitely more bittersweet. Next is the New Jersey. A full band arrangement of this song would be featured on Red House Painters II, and the full band version if definitely my preferred but i think with this version, the harshness of these lyrics really come through. This song borders along the lines of cruelty much like mistress. It almost sounds like a statement to someone that says “This is a good as it will get for you, and that isn’t saying much at all”. It suggests that there was potential for the character in this song, but instead resulted in failure. This version also uses additional female vocals and just the one guitar playing a simple line, with the echo and reverb on the vocals definitely seperates this stark version from the one you can hear on Bridge. Theres a bit of a dissonance to parts of the full band arrangement, but it sounds like it could be geared more towards College radio while this song sounds more like a personal statement. “Dragonflies” is a song where the lyrics don’t do as much for me as other songs, except for the one line “This is the first you spoke of it”, because of I think of instances in which I’ve had to say that. Its definitely a darker song of the album without verging into the category of a skipper, which is perfect. The bass is definitely present in this song and helps the bass drum sound booming, and the subtle instances of an additional guitar track help to make this song chilling. This song also builds up steam really well, with the drums picking up the pace in the nearer end of the song, and Kozelek putting a bit more effort into his singing, and the guitar starting to strum with more consistency, which leads into quite the powerful ending which is probably one of the louder parts of the album up to this point along with the ending of Funhouse. After this we hear the piano version of “Mistress”. I love how one small change of lyrics makes all the difference in this song, when he sings “I want a piece of these brutal beatings and name callings”. I think the only thing that takes away from this song is the ending where Mark sings all the “aahs”, but it definitely adds to the eerie nature of this side and makes for quite the haunting ending to this side. I like the idea of not having to go out with a bang. This side slowly climbs up with Rollercoaster, stays stagnant with New Jersey, then walks then runs up with Dragonflies, then takes you slowly all the way back to the bottom with Mistress.
Now we reach side D. We’ll call this the Strawberry Hill EP. I should be calling this the most darkest of sides because of “Mother”. This is definitely the epic of the record, clocking in at 13 minutes. Each of Red House Painter’s records has an “epic” song. On the Down Colorful Hill it was the title track. What made it the epic was that it was the longest and had a lot of shift in sound, starting with the military-style drumming with the dreamy overdub while a quiet guitar strums chords beneath it, then picks up steam and has that one part that reaches quite the intensity. I wish I could talk about Mother with such enthusiasm, but I can’t. I do enjoy how there are two parts of this song. Part 2 of this song is introduced with the reverse guitar being faded in, and the rest of the song is just mark scatting over the continued slow beat, but the song definitely sounds like it is ascending. Next we have Strawberry Hill. This along with Mother makes deciding which side is the darkest a close call, but this song doesn’t really do it for me in the regard. I do love this song though, a lot. It continues the slow climb of this side much like side 3. I’m starting to get tired since this was post was long, but this song seems like a total representation of Mark Kozelek as a person. The song explores people talking about his nature and the way he carries himself. Hiding out in his room, his quietness, and his fears, and his sadness. This song is definitely hard hitting. It has a real catchy chorus that sounds nice while his voice soars over the group vocals, and the addition of piano on this song is definitely a plus. They use piano so well on this record, as to not overdo it. They would continue to use piano well on Ocean Beach with their song “Shadows”. “Brown Eyes” is a great closer. Its short and to the point. Its a great closer to this side and the album overall. The way the band leaves as quick as it comes in and this song is definitely a bummer.
I’m not really sure how to cap this off. This post was me doing my best Roger Ebert Impression.
April 12, 2009
Someone has been posting live videos of Red House Painters from a set at the Black Cat in DC from 96. I have the audio of this set on my pc, and of the 13 or 14 sets I have, this is by far the best of them. This captures them abandoning the need to play it like you heard it on the album, and yes, its just as boring as I had hoped. I don’t know why that excites me but it does. I like how their live show would definitely cater to more than casual listeners. Sadly, none of the sweet banter is included. It seems like the user is going to upload every song possible, probably having to cut short songs like river (It clocks in around 18 minutes on this set) and Evil (20ish minutes). Regardless, its exciting to finally see some footage of this band. Before you’d be hard pressed to find videos or even pictures of this group except for promotional photos. Kait is napping and I have to wear headphones because she still thinks this band sounds awful. Happy Easter Jason, I hope we can see each other soon.
April 6, 2009
You know that theme you love from True Romance? Well you have Badlands to thank for it. Someone has posted live videos of Red House Painters from a 1996 show from the Black Cat. I have the audio to that set on my pc. Its just as boring as I imagined it. I’m stoked on it. Hopefully he posts every song from the set. Might be hard to tackle make like paper, its about 15 minutes if I remember correctly.
I haven’t updated in a while. I figured if I couldn’t think of something to say about Red House Painters or a great hip hop record, then there really isn’t anything worth talking about. The First S/T Red House Painters 2xLP went on ebay for about 250 dollars Canadian. That sucks for people like Jason who really need a copy. The 2nd S/T is at 63 bucks Canadian right now, and still has 4 days left. Jason get on that if you read this in time. Big news is that Songs for a Blue Guitar is finally getting issued on vinyl by Plain Recordings if I remember correctly. This is really exciting because Jason pre-ordered a copy for me along with his. Jasons great, my best friend.
I’m gonna switch gears for this post and talk about a different group. I want to talk about how Depeche Mode’s new album leaked. Its called “Sounds of the Universe” and I was hoping since Playing The Angel had some definite bangers, and had a real noirish vibe to it (a la Portishead), my hopes for this were high. I checked out the album and overall was not impressed. Maybe they’ve exhausted their ability to write a solid album front to back. This happens to all bands as they grow old and we all know it. Bands reach a point where you’re better off just touring and playing your back catalogue and pulling out some forgotten songs that true fans will die for. Its sort of like U2. If you discredit this band as a whole, then you shouldn’t listen to music. They are definitely one of the big bands to shape college rock into what it became along with bands like REM (who got huge too and compromised their jangly sound but stayed pretty good from time to time though I only really listen to Murmur), The Replacements (Westerberg started his catchy pop rock solo career which is amazing stuff) etc etc. Boy, War, Unforgettable Fire, even Achtung Baby all have stand out tracks that you should like. If you need further reassurance that its cool to appreciate them, Pitchfork gave War and 8.0/10, though if that is what makes you like them, you should hate Matt Pond PA (low low ratings, will never understand why). Anyways, Depeche Mode much like U2 or one of my favourite bands New Order suffers from one thing. A tendency to write half-rate lyrics or ones you kinda cringe at because they’re sort of stupid.
A prime example from each band where the song is great but the lyrics sorta hurt:
U2- Two Hearts beat as One
Depeche Mode- Sweetest Perfection
New Order- (so many to choose from, we’ll go with…) Age of Consent
My friend Meghan has serious beef with Two Hearts but the song is so damn catchy, I can let myself overlook it. I mean I won’t discredit Medicine Bottle by Red House Painters even though theres no more “ladies underwear” hanging over his alarm clock. Its still one of the hardest hitting songs from that record (or just their catalogue of songs in general). Its especially tough for a band like New Order because its definitely cool to prefer Joy Division to them, and Ian Curtis was definitely talented at writing gloomy as shit lyrics. But lets be honest, Unknown Pleasures isn’t good. Closer is great because its dark and sounds like a goth-rock record, and the early stages of Goth Rock are just fine. Christian Death made a sweet LP, Mutiny/The Bad Seed by The Birthday Party is great, and Bauhaus is better than your favourite band, and I only just like Bauhaus.
The point that I’m trying to drive home here is this: If you’re on a bus ride or drive home and its late at night, Violator by Depeche Mode is your best bet, but make sure you throw on Music for the Masses to hear “The Things You Said”.
Why would you want to write off big bands that influenced the small bands that you like? Wouldn’t you rather be informed. Wouldn’t you rather do your best and sit through a Lyle Lovett record, or a Jackson Browne record and understand where the people you like are coming from? Its not as hard as it sounds, I promise you won’t get hurt. If you like bad Alt-Country, why not try and sit through a George Jones collection and understand the roots of the things you’ve come to appreciate/hold over other peoples head.
I push a lot of bad music on Kait. She has been a real sport about it though.
March 9, 2009
Just a quick one:
Before Old Ramon was recorded, songs like “River”, “Michigan”, “Kavita”, “Cruiser”, and “Void” were played at probably many of their shows. If not all, at least a few songs would be played. It was definitely around this time when all the songs they played on stage became more flexible, riding out certain parts of songs, taking their time for Mark to come in. There was definitely more of a jam element, and this can easily be seen on extended live versions of “Evil” or “Make Like Paper”. Despite the fact that I find half of Old Ramon seriously boring (which I have mentioned on numerous occasions on this blog and in real life), the songs that stick out to me really stick out. Their recording of “River” to me comes so close to capturing their live persona. Not only because of some of the drawn out parts, but because to me this really shows what Kozelek is capable of with his voice. Especially with the earlier albums theres a certain drone that almost never comes past the surface (an exception that comes quick to mind is “Strawberry Hill”) The only chance you’d get to hear him soar is in concert. Even on his solo effort (Songs For a Blue Guitar, sure its a red house album but none of them are listed in the liner notes) the voice stayed low except little instances (sometimes in Big Sur, he’d ease up [in a sense]). It wouldn’t be until maybe his “Rock n Roll Singer” EP or “Ghosts of the Great Highway” by Sun Kil Moon where you’d get to hear him stretch his range (mainly because he was obviously going for something more in the style of neil young. Listen to Salvador Sanchez and say otherwise). The advantage to not showing your true talent on record is that you will leave a real impression if the fans come to see you in concert. With the release of “April” we definitely hear how Marks voice has sagged though it still sounds incredible. And I’ve heard him play old RHP songs on solo sets from recent years, and the effort isn’t there. I’ve also heard at Sun Kil Moon shows they have been playing “River”, and I’d almost be nervous to hear it in case Mark can no longer do it justice, but I guess you have to have faith. I have a live cut of River that is almost 20 minutes from 1996 and at the end you can hear someone say to their friend “That was a great song, woo. I feel drained from that”. Anyways, I want to upload a prime example of Marks capabilities so I’m going to upload this demo version of Brockwell Park (Pts 1 and 2) and a demo cut of Brown Eyes (Superior to the studio version, easily) mainly for Jason, because I know Colin will download it but any other readers don’t really care, but I mean, this is written primarily for Jasunn O))).
Speaking of that, we saw each other, and he gave me a Sun Kil Moon record and I gave him a LFD/Acrid 12″ and I gave him some dvds to borrow and a book that was a gift for being a great friend, well more than that, my best friend. Him and Kyle also got to meet Kait and were probably baffled as to why someone that great would give me the time of day. I don’t question it, I just go with it.
Jump on this, you won’t regret it.
February 19, 2009
Mom and Dad is it a boy or a girl?
You know, I could really do without Funhouse. Oddly enough, I don’t have any live version of it, just the studio cut, and 2 different quality demo versions. I used to be able to deal with it, and now I can’t stand it. Actually the demo version isn’t bad, because the lyrics are easier to understand, and its shorter. The 5 minute demo version has a more epic ending to it as well. The drums are crazier sounding. I mean I can dig on the slowcore, but when you have a 14 minute epic like MOTHER, you don’t really need anything else. To me, Funhouse would be a lot more fitting on the Bridge LP. To me that LP sums up the eeriness (what?) of Red House Painters. Evil with its almost inaudible guitar at the start with the laugh and then you just hear the cymbal, and Marks vocals coming in which sound like they’re coming out of the speakers right at you is a great way to open it up. The production of Bridge is also a lot brighter sounding which, to me, only makes it sound stranger, dare i say creepy. To me, its the toughest of their records to get into but the most rewarding after, if only for Uncle Joe (Unkle Jo). Like Medicine Bottle it has some of the best and worst lines written by Mark Kozelek. I remember hearing the first line “Where have all the people gone in my life” and getting chills. That was a song where I played it again and again and again on repeat. Sadly though he sings:
“it was unintentional
when i spit in your beer
i am over influenced
That line kind of sucks. Helicopter is a song that I listen to but never pay attention, but if you look at the lyrics its up there for overall sad.
“be mine for a day
let your lids shut out that bad focus
to die in a storm
holding you in my last hour
our burning flesh will blow over
some nightmare sea”
I had more to write, then I went out for Snack Attack. My mom and I went out for Mexican and it was good. I miss my girl. Durrrrrr
Mom and Dad is it a he or a she?
January 26, 2009
Everytime I come home from work, mainly after my 9 hour Saturdays, my knuckles look like they have just been involved in a scrap. Bleeding and crackin’ on the constant, the only cure is to wear magic gloves after smearing your hands in Vaseline before bedtime. I’ve been trying to cut back on late nite caffeine consumption, or just consumption on the C overall. I grew up living in a house full of Diet Ginger Ale, and I can not drink regular Ginger Ale, so I buy Diet Canada Dry. The trade off of carbs for aspartame is a fair one, right? An 18-wheeler driver accidentally grazed along a bail of cardboard, and I love how it is assumed the driver was foreign, except it was a white driver to comes to the store every morning to hook us up with bread. Speaking of Bread, I’ve been digging on toasted Prebiotic whole wheat with grains, with some Natural Peanut Butter. Makes for a great snack. At Christmas, one of my good friends Corey bought me a Do the Right Thing Poster, and instead of holding off until i bought a new frame, I rolled up my Casablanca after pulling it out and put in this more colorful poster. Its nice for a switch. Two Things: 1.) Wings of Desire is receiving the Crtierion treatment. 2.) I want a Wings of Desire Poster.
If you went to a Red House Painters show in 1996, and were a casual listener or didn’t have the slightest idea of what you were getting yourself into, I’d feel for you. The set length would have ranged from 1.5-3 hours. You would have to deal with covers of Classic Rock bands, and 16 minute versions of Make Like Paper or River. I’d give anything to see some sort of video bootleg of a set. All I have is all these audio takes, and I thought what’d I’d do tonight, is make an upload of great live cuts, mainly for the Jason, but I guess other readers (Colin.. Meghan?… Uhhhh). The upload will contain 7 Tracks, from 1996/97 since to me that is the most crucial time for live cuts for them:
-Albuquerque (Neil Young Cover)
-Sundays and Holidays
-Grace Cathedral Park (better than the studio version)
-Evil (20 minutes long, enjoy)
-Make Like Paper
-Lord Kill the Pain (same style as you have jason, but different set, i like it more, but not whining about monitors)
The key to these live tracks is I find theres more personality to the way played live, than the studio cuts. Even Sundays and Holidays, which sounds perfect on the the EP sounds much better strummed live, as opposed to fingerpicked, but I mean I love both ways. If you listen to Evil in its entirety, I will be proud of you. Mark has a gift of hiding his true vocal talent on alot of studio songs, which makes him shine even more at concerts, which I’ve stressed in past updates. Apparently on the latest Sun Kil Moon stretch of dates, they have been jamming river, and I often fear his voice is too low now to pull it off, which gets me curious. Also, they have been heavy on April, playing 8 or so songs from it, which would be really cool to see. I think April is a sweet album, and its cool how they played Lost Verses on Californication, along with a Kozelek original, Metropol 47.
Here is the link, some of the songs may require you to turn up speakers:
January 23, 2009
My stomach has the sting like it has just been sucker punched, and maybe it was from the few potato chips i had 8 hours ago, or the peanut butter stone wheat toast i ate 5 hours ago. Jason, you should drive me down a burrito and then stay to snuggle.
Lets do a rundown of my 5 favourite covers that the Koz has done. I like lists, because i like to reflect on them a year later when i care more about college rock and hip hop records than i should:
1.) I am a Rock (Originally by Simon and Garfunkel): Here’s an example of great lyrics sadly written by a duo that truly suck no matter what you might say. Their songs are as boring as Joyce, and my hatred only grew more viscous after I watched The Graduate. Its not like when you watch Do the Right Thing and you love “Fight the Power” even more after hearing snippets 15 different times during the movie. This slowed down haunting cover is topped with Mark’s more middle register singing, and not holding back when singing the chorus. It sounds much more full, with an almost shoegazing strum pattern. And the denouement in the last 50 seconds, is just oh so nice.
2.) Lazy (Originally by Low): If you listen to the low version, it sounds so sadcore to the max, the lines suggesting that it is about not putting in the effort towards love. You still get a bit of that vibe from this cover, but it also sounds much more upbeat and not as pain-stricken. You’re better off picking this version if its nice outside and you want to feel good with someone.
3.) Green Manalishi (Originally by Fleetwod Mac, written by Peter Green): What kind of fan would i be if I didn’t pick a cover that you can only hear on live bootlegs and shit. Though often thought of as Priest song, Kozelek seems to sing the lyrics more like the Mac one. The cover itself sounds like it could have fit on Ghosts of the Great Highway, since that was when he was rockin’ the tune, and of course its re-arranged and usually the arrangements sound similar to whatever he is writing at that point. When he plays it going into Glenn Tipton it works well, and if you don’t know why, use google.
4.) All Mixed Up (Originally by The Cars): Just listen to the original, and you’ll understand why this one is better.
5.) Celebrated Summer (Originally by Husker Du): I’ve explained this a few posts ago, this version sounds nice and sweet, and the lyrics are easier to pick up because they are not drenched in that bob mould fuzz we all love (which became more and more scarce once flip your wig happened, but no disrespect, i love everything up to warehouse)
This was a pretty stupid post for me to make, so I like it. I bought some new jeans, and I went vegan, and my Magnificent Obsession (Criterion Collection) came today, and the present I got for Jason for just being there came and he is going to love it. A Smiths 12″ and a wishingwell youth of today record is coming. Stuff is OK over here, it will be better in 6 months when things goes wrong and feels like home. If you buy me a Japanese pressing of True Blue, I will give you a hug.
January 9, 2009
You gotta give credit where credit is due, so lets hand some out:
You can argue that Red House Painters wouldnt be what they are without the help of Mark Eitzel of American Music Club. If memory serves me correctly he is responsible for Ivo having a copy of the demo on his desk.
It took me a while to warm up to American Music Club. I don’t know why either. I only really rock one album at the moment, and that is Everclear, which i’m pretty sure is the quintessential record when it comes to them. It got alot of critical praise and I’m pretty sure Rolling Stone had major boons for it (STOP THE PRESSES! Rolling Stone likes your band). They have a song about aids on it called “Sick of Food” and its a real good song. I’m pretty sure Mark Eitzel is gay, I wonder if he would get offended by the Koz making “fag jokes”. Almost every song on the album, minus crabwalk because it throws off the pacing of the record, is a hit. There is such a mature sound to it, like it was written by adults. Its like how when you listen to loveless you can tell its by people who are presumably in their young 20s, though its such a polished record, there is something that separates it from the maturity of a band like AMC, or Blue Nile, or shit like that. This album is totally slowcore, or sadcore, or nonstop brooding, whichever you prefer. As much as I love Red House Painters, I don’t think they reached the time of maturity until Ocean Beach. For me it was probably just the shift in lyrics and a more focused sound that makes me say that.
stand out tracks on everclear:
sick of food, why won’t you stay, the royal cafe, what the pillar of salt held up
There are a few bands like this that are good. I like AMC, and Idaho is cool, and Ida is cool, and Low is cool but Colin you shouldn’t listen to low, and Ivo is the head of 4AD records. 4AD records is great, they released all the good cocteau twins stuff, some bauhaus, and This Mortal Coil. Apparently i’m the only person i know who actually loves this mortal coil. Lets not forget they released the pixies too, and pixies are great.
And the mountain goats! they’ve released some mountain goats stuff. I should get on the 4ad label just to scour the warehouse for Red House Painters ephemera and records.
That whole slowcore style, it seems like a west coast thang. AMC and RHP were both from San Francisco. San Fran seemed like it would have been a cool music scene to be part of in 1992 and stuff.
So yeah man, listen to AMC and send me albums i don’t have please. Jason, give them a chance because I like them and we love eachother.