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Thread: Sun Kil Moon - Admiral Fell Promises

  1. #1
    Grumpy Old Man Music Head's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Lancaster, Kentucky, United States

    Default Sun Kil Moon - Admiral Fell Promises

    released July 13th, 2010

    from the album - Third And Seneca

    from all music

    After dissolving his previous band, Red House Painters, singer/songwriter Mark Kozelek resurfaced with Sun Kil Moon, refining and expanding the luminous acoustic balladry and harrowingly intimate lyricism that are the hallmarks of his career to date. Born in Massillon, OH, in 1967, Kozelek formed his first band, God Forbid, while in his teens. Upon relocating to Atlanta, he struck up a friendship with drummer Anthony Koutsos, and together they formed the first incarnation of Red House Painters. A move to San Francisco followed, where guitarist Gorden Mack and bassist Jerry Vessel rounded out the group's roster. While performing on the Bay Area club circuit, the quartet came to the attention of American Music Club frontman Mark Eitzel, who often cited Red House Painters as his favorite band; through Eitzel, RHP's demo tape made its way to the London offices of 4AD Records, which signed the group and in 1992 issued the unvarnished demos a striking collection of Spartan, atmospheric melodies lurking behind Kozelek's ghostly vocals as the LP Down Colorful Hill. Subsequent efforts, highlighted by a pair of eponymous albums released back to back in 1993, established Kozelek as a writer of stunning emotional depth, unflinchingly detailing his erratic, abusive nature and troubled background.

    But relations with 4AD grew strained, and when Kozelek began work on a long-rumored solo album in the wake of 1995's radiant Ocean Beach, the label terminated Red House Painters' contract. Although none of Kozelek's bandmates appeared on the completed LP, the solo disc Songs for a Blue Guitar was instead issued under the RHP banner when it appeared on Island's Supreme imprint in 1996. The group reunited in late 1997 for one final album, Old Ramon, but the Polygram/Universal merger spelled Supreme's end, and the completed LP was indefinitely shelved. Kozelek soon began work assembling and producing Take Me Home: A Tribute to John Denver, an all-star cover record celebrating the life and music of the late folkie, and in 2000 issued his first proper solo effort, Rock 'n' Roll Singer, a curious yet compelling patchwork highlighted by three Bon Scott-era AC/DC covers. Perhaps most surprising, Kozelek also co-starred in filmmaker Cameron Crowe's 2000 release Almost Famous, playing Larry Fellows, bassist for the fictional '70s hard rock band Stillwater. After securing the rights to Old Ramon, Kozelek licensed the album to Sub Pop for release in the spring of 2001. Later that same year, the label also issued his limited-edition solo set White Christmas Live.

    In early 2002, Kozelek assembled Sun Kil Moon with former Red House Painter Anthony Koutsos, Black Lab bassist Geoff Stanfield, and erstwhile American Music Club drummer Tim Mooney. Their debut LP, Ghosts of the Great Highway, appeared to wide critical acclaim in late 2003, and Kozelek assembled a new touring band to support its release, spending the better part of 2004 on the road. He also continued his film career, again playing a fictional musician in the 2005 big-screen adaptation of Steve Martin's comedic novella Shopgirl. That summer, Kozelek joined with Low's Alan Sparhawk in the classic rock cover band the Retribution Gospel Choir, issuing a tour-only EP in advance of the second Sun Kil Moon album, the much maligned Tiny Cities, a collection of covers by indie rock band Modest Mouse. The album was the first released on Kozelek's own Caldo Verde label. April, featuring guest vocals from Will Oldham and Ben Gibbard, followed in 2008. Kozelek switched it up again for 2010's Admiral Fell Promises; he recorded ten new songs accompanied only by a nylon-stringed guitar as accompaniment.

    album review

    Admiral Fell Promises is the fourth full-length by Mark Kozelek's alter ego Sun Kil Moon the name he's used since 2003. All of his records, whether they be full-band outings or completely solo like this one, carry his signature warm, slow, nocturnal vocal delivery, lending his songs an unhurried, often melancholy feel, even when he exercises his wry and ready sense of humor. Admiral Fell Promises features Kozelek accompanied only by a fingerpicked, nylon-string Spanish guitar and his voice. While he often double-tracks his vocals, the effect it creates is one of spaciousness inside his songs. Its sound is crystalline without being at all icy. These songs, no matter their musical tempo, change their interior shapes dreamily but in something akin to stop-motion photography. Given the intimacy of the presentation, they invite you into their various worlds, with guitar as both rhythmic and melodic components, and they evolve at a glacial pace: the guitar work here is especially notable. Kozelek is no small talent when it comes to playing disciplined flamenco sketches, employing them as melodies, bridges, or intros and outros in his tunes. The latter of these which closes "Half Moon Bay," is striking for how it seemingly changes up the musical frame of the tune. Check the guitar work on "Sam Wong Hotel" which acts as another storytelling device, speaking in sharp contrast to his vocal; it signals each musical shift in this sadder-than-sad love song. Alternately, his playing also lends a sweetness that enters the stark musical landscape of his words. If songs like "Third and Seneca," the title cut, or "Church of the Pines" (with its hints of "Norwegian Wood") were simply strummed chord changes accompanying his lyrics, they'd be dull and depressing. Instead, they are long, moody landscape shots that eventually close in on his lyric's concerns, offering portraits of ambiguous complexity in seemingly easy-to-define emotional transactions. "The Learning Tree" is a clear standout, because it traverses not only the interiority of the human heart, but equates its conflicting feelings with the physical landscape around it. The guitar drives the song's protagonist ever forward in search of someone and something he may not find, even as he pushes through the rubble of the past and the desolation of his physical surroundings, and blurs into a yearning but uncertain future. It's a love song that aches with the sincerity and confusion of prayer; especially as it changes its entire musical direction about two minutes in. Admiral Fell Promises is the simplest Sun Kil Moon album in terms of production and presentation, but the richest in terms of structural complexity, and poetic and emotional power.

    Track Listing

    1 Alesund 6:27
    2 Half Moon Bay 6:53
    3 Sam Wong Hotel 5:11
    4 Third and Seneca 7:14
    5 You Are My Sun 4:55
    6 Admiral Fell Promises 3:52
    7 The Leaning Tree 7:55
    8 Australian Winter 4:41
    9 Church of the Pines 6:05
    10 Bay of Skulls 7:37
    A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.
    Will Rogers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Enschede, Holland


    Got to love Mark Kozelek. Alesund is an awesome track; it makes me want to pack my bags and hike all the way to Norway.

  3. #3
    Band Manager Thraak's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Stirling, Scotland

    Post Sensational album!

    Thanks to Gryphon, was listening to this beautiful album earlier today. It's so good I ended up playing it on a loop about 3 times over. Been a fan of Red House Painters for a while and the raw beauty of this music reminded me of Bon Iver's 'For Emma..Forever Ago'. Best track for me is 'Half Moon Bay'.
    "Blogging like Jesus, tweet like a Pope
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    "But me and you were not to blame
    Love always returns from where it came
    Back to black and in the end,
    It's all the same."- Terry Allen 'Back to Black' 1996

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