Review : Sun Kil Moon - Among the Leaves
SputnikmusicAmong the Leaves is Mark Kozelek’s “Fuck it” album, even more so than those shitty cover albums he was pumping out a decade or so ago. What I mean by that is that it’s his first album of his where you can tell he just doesn’t care whatsoever about the reaction or backlash he’s going to receive. This, right here, is Kozelek pointedly not as the expert storyteller of Ghosts of the Great Highway, or the depressive romantic of April, or the ruminative sage of Admiral Fell Promises. Instead, Among the Leaves is notable for the bitterness and resignation of Kozelek’s lyrics; for the first time, Kozelek’s erratic and standoffish personality onstage shines through on record. Those looking for something akin to “Duk Koo Kim” are going to be very disappointed, but, once having adjusted to the frank and caustic lyrics, Kozelek’s newest ends up actually being his most entertaining record to date, offering a raw and personal account of life as the tragically unappreciated songwriter.
Of course, this being how Kozelek sees himself. (There is a song on here called “The Moderately Talented Yet Attractive Young Woman vs. The Exceptionally Talented Yet Not So Attractive Middle Aged Man,” for cripes sake, Kozelek firmly casting himself as the latter.) A common theme of Among the Leaves is the scorn Kozelek feels towards touring and the people he tours for, how the bumps and bruises of nonstop touring start to wear on a forty-five year old, the fact that he’s performing for overweight dudes that spend too much time on the Internet instead of the hot chicks that supposedly came to his concerts in the 90s, etc. Like, how much Europe sucks. And so on.
At first, listening to Kozelek bitch and moan can be jarring and sort of insulting, in a way, to the listeners, the “guys in tennis shoes” that still go to Kozelek’s concerts so he can make more albums. Yet further listens reveal deeper shades of Kozelek’s lyrics, as well as his penchant for awkward and dark humor that makes his concerts so disasterous (usually). Kozelek’s actually more self-effacing than he initially seems to be: he offsets his arrogance about his musical abilities with the harsh truths of his getting older in “Sunshine in Chicago,” and when he mocks the mind-numbing plight of the office drone, as he does in “That Bird Has A Broken Wing” (“I know you’re hating me pretty bad/But I at least I ain’t some tool named Brad/up at 7, home by 5/hasn’t gotten it up since wintertime”), there remains the uneasy, underlying fact that these men at least have things like wives, children, security....full text
SfgateAre you ready to hear Mark Kozelek cut loose? Take a moment to think about it. For two decades, the San Francisco songwriter has been a dependable source of gloom, making the kind of music - particularly with his former band Red House Painters - that matched the dreary tone and dreamy tenor of the city's gray skies. That ends with Sun Kil Moon's fifth studio album, "Among the Leaves," which was mostly recorded on a nylon-string guitar in just a few takes. The music is fundamentally laid back, the lyrics seemingly derived from the first thoughts that popped into his head. Kozelek offers observations on cats, neighborhood strolls and his travels around the world. There's a tribute to his late guitar repairman, "Song for Richard Collopy," that plays out like a Yelp review. One of the folksy tunes jostles with the title, "Not Much Rhymes With Everything's Awesome at All Times." Meanwhile, "Sunshine in Chicago" gives a glimpse into his tour diary: "My band in the '90s played here a lot when we had lots of female fans and, f-, they were cute/ Now I just sign posters for guys in tennis shoes." Still contemplating? Let's offer this: His misery doesn't run as deep as it used to, but his sense of melody is in full bloom and, occasionally, that old majestic melancholy shines through ("Young Love," "Red Poison")....full text
PopstacheMark Kozelek made his name during the early 90′s as the leading man and singer/songwriter behind Red House Painters. Since the Red House Painters’ disbanding in the late 1990′s, Kozelek has continued to release acclaimed albums under the guise Sun Kil Moon. Kozelek’s latest installment as Sun Kil Moon, Among the Leaves, comes 20 years after the RHP’s epic debut Down Colorful Hill. With the possible exception of the confused Modest Mouse cover album Tiny Cities, he has a critically untarnished record. Sun Kil Moon isfittingly named after South Korean bantamweight boxer Sung-kil Moon as Kozelek’s music is both light and graceful, but it can also sting you with emotional jabs or rock you with musical hooks.
Among the Leaves continues the simple, pared down approach of 2010′s Admiral Fell Promises. Most songs are just Kozelek and his guitar, though some simple drumming and warm strings do strengthen songs like “The Winery” and the title track. Like his earlier releases, the album has its fair share of pretty, sentimental narratives. “That Was the Greatest Night of My Life” tells the story of an apologetic note received from a female fan months after declining his offer to spend the night. On “The Moderately Talented Yet Not So Attractive Middle Aged Man” Kozelek, or rather ‘the narrator,’ fondly recalls a charming, young opening act who may not have had a gift for songwriting, but was an accomplished kisser. The mournful “Peter Collopy” is an elegy for the greatest guitar repairman out west who could make a worn out Gibson sound better than it ever had before.
Among the Leaves also contains a handful of acerbic notes. The narrator of “That Bird Has a Broken Wing” explores the male id and fidelity’s submission to lechery. The bipolar “Elaine” transitions back and forth between warm finger-picking and a churning, angry blues riff like a series of make-ups and break-ups. “Red Poison” affirms the fact that one can buy anything in Chinatown, including poisonous chinaware for the disposal of unwanted lovers....full text
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