Though it occasionally suffers from overambition, the jazzy I Also Want to Die in New Orleans is another helping of admirable personal and social commentary from Mark Kozelek.
Mark Kozelek's latest endeavor follows his jet-lagged excursions through Europe, but his narratives often overpower the music.
Hunters Chorus is a solo endeavor by composer and multi-instrumentalist Ramon Fermin, who also happens to be the lead guitarist of Sun Kil Moon for this current album cycle. Fittingly, Hunters Chorus' debut album Old Growler, a tribute to Ramon's late dog Jasmine, is dropping next month via Mark Kozelek's Caldo Verde Records. The instrumental album finds Ramon on guitar and bass, his friend Haig Shirinian on drums, and Jack Shirley (best known for his work on Deafheaven's Sunbather) on the boards.
Today we're bringing you the track "Wish," which is one of the album's harder rocking spots. Some pieces on Old Growler, such as the intro and closer, are serene soundscapes of unaccompanied electric and acoustic guitar, whereas a track like "Wish" is very much in the spirit of late-period Red House Painters' heaviest moments. Obviously this song is without Mark's aching baritone, but it occupies that liminal space between classic rock and post-rock that some of Blue Guitar and Old Ramon did... the title of the latter is now a kind of funny coincidence.
Just reading about Old Growler's concept, one might expect something along the lines of the first Silver Mt. Zion album and brace for the waterworks, but "Wish" offers something quite a bit more upbeat. It's a solid piece of instrumental rock, and the anthemic guitar leads and soloing that emerge in its last phase have me looking forward to Ramon's contributions to this November's Sun Kil Moon album. His fingerprints are certainly all over the latest single, "Linda Blair."
Old Growler gets unleashed on October 19 and can be pre-ordered here.
Last month in his annual holiday letter, Mark Kozelek announced not one, but TWO new Sun Kil Moon albums that were in their final stages and would be released in 2018. The first of these is titled simply after the man himself and comes May 11 through Mark's Caldo Verde imprint. Along with the album's details come – again – not one, but TWO new singles, which clock in at over 20 minutes on their own. So they're already living up to the title of Mark Kozelek.
As stated in the year-end message, this batch of songs was recorded in hotel rooms by Mark alone, so we're in for a more modest and intimate project than, say, Common as Light. Also unlike that album, this new one will consist primarily of electric guitar and voice, with Steve Shelley contributing drums to just one track. Though there shouldn't have been any doubt, the Koz is still on his own level when it comes to crafting lovely guitar melodies, and it seems with every passing year his talk-singing matches that of Lou Reed more and more. Without spoiling too much about the storytelling of these two pieces, I'm gonna have to give the edge to "My Love for You Is Undying," which finds Mark flipping a few awkward and unpleasant encounters into something life-affirming. Its final verse is a highlight, featuring a callback to everyone's favorite Benji meme (that doesn't quite land with Mark) and a moment when he gets a little carried away with the end rhyme.
Mark Kozelek is currently on tour promoting his slew of 2017 releases, and he has made quite an interesting choice in backing band with the Magik*Magik Orchestra. It's really impressive how well the group has adapted much of this new material into chamber arrangements. Thankfully, last month's performance in Chicago was documented and is being released in January as a freebie to go along with any orders through Mark's site. That probably means another Sun Kil Moon album isn't too far off, either. Not that we needed a hint.
Hear the rendition of With Ben Boye and Jim White cut "Astronomy" above. I'd say it's got both studio versions beat.
When Mark Kozelek arrives, baby, he arrives.
Jesu and Sun Kil Moon's contribution to the 30 Days, 40 Songs campaign is a progressive synth piece that contains a bit of political and technological commentary, but mostly focuses on Mark's recent experience tributing Lou Reed. The song will presumably appear on the duo's sophomore record 30 Seconds to the Decline of Planet Earth, out June 1 via Caldo Verde.