Sun Kil Moon "Admiral Fell Promises"

Another high recommendation for the forum. This is the new release from Mark Kozelek aka Sun Kil Moon, and quite a beauty. All acoustic (nylon), haunting, hypnotic, and unique... You could hear splashes back in the Red House Painter days but on "Ghosts of the Great Highways" he really came into his own. "April", the last record, was where the real magic happened, already a classic and one of my go to records at all hours. With this new piece you can hear a quiet confidence. There is more guitar work/range but it is overall much mellower. There is a subtle Latin flair to it also...True musical beauty. High quality sonics for us geeks too.

Highly recommended folks!
Cool. Thanks for the heads up on Admiral Fell Promises. Agree 100% on APRIL (white marble vinyl!) as being a 'go to record at all hours.' TINY CITIES is sweet too.

Mark Kozelek's affinity for covers are always highlights - what does he cover AFP?
I am not 100% certain but I think they are all his songs. I have only given a couple of good listens and nothing struck me as familiar....although, I would have a hard time making Modest Mouse from Tiny Cities (agree...sweet)!

It's different from April but still very SKM. Let me know what you think...
richard, likewise thanks for the heads-up--i just ordered the cd. kozolek's a great, hugely underrecognized singer/songwriter/guitarist--worthy of mention in the same breath as nick drake, elliott smith and neil young. i'd also tout red house painters "old ramon", which is harder edged than his recent stuff, and "mark kozolek live", which i listen to constantly.
Here is a review that sums it up pretty well (although he is from Ohio, not the Bay Area!!)...

"An affinity for letting loose and rocking out isn't necessarily the first quality one might associate with Mark Kozelek's music, but a fair amount of the Bay Area singer-songwriter's work since 1996 has been marked by frequent employment of ragged, distorted guitars. Songs for a Blue Guitar was the first Red House Painters album that found Kozelek turning away from his earlier, dreamy slowcore compositions toward alternately lilting folk and raucous barn burners, a duality that has made his full-length efforts with Sun Kil Moon some of the most compelling albums of the past ten years. But Sun Kil Moon's third album of original material, Admiral Fell Promises, finds Kozelek putting aside the distortion pedals and the Marshall stacks in favor of a more stark and stripped down set that's as gorgeous as anything in Kozelek's 20 year discography.

By opening the album with the line "No this is not my guitar, I'm bringing it to a friend," Kozelek invites the listener into an intimate space, offering candlelit serenades as haunting and beautiful as the black and white photo adorning the front cover. The song from which that line is pulled, "Alesund" begins the album with a series of gentle flamenco-inflected sweeps and plucks, slowly galloping toward an elegant waltz that starts the album off with a mesmerizing grace. And on "Half Moon Bay," there's a dreamlike quality to Kozelek's naming of places and memories, from the titular bay to the humming highway, which achieves an interesting sort of onomatopoeic effect as his rich baritone creates its own hypnotic hum.

"Half Moon Bay" isn't alone in being a musical document of events, as it were, as the album is littered with place names — "Sam Wong Hotel," "Third And Seneca," "Bay of Skulls" — most of which evoke landmarks in Kozelek's native San Francisco. And as he sings lines such as "Catherine drifts again into my mind," that intimacy becomes even more pronounced, Kozelek inviting the listener deep into the recesses of his memories, which are triggered by these specific points on a map. But Kozelek's lyrics are so vivid and his storytelling uninhibited by extra layers of sound that one is easily held captive along the roads and corridors where his stories take us.

It would be dishonest to call Admiral Fell Promises a shock after April, considering Mark Kozelek has long been releasing music stripped bare to his lone, acoustic guitar. The surprising part is that it bears the Sun Kil Moon name, without the Crazy Horse-style rock `n' roll that comes with it. This is, however, less a complaint than a pleasant surprise. A song like "The Light" or "Tonight the Sky," no matter how kickass, would be out of place on an album this delicate. And when a performer is capable of creating songs of this caliber with as few instruments as possible, it's a good sign that he knows what he's doing. "
Sadly, Caldo Verde Records didn't think to release on vinyl. Broke down and picked up a used copy on amazon...
A used CD that is...
caught kozolek live in chicago last weekend at lincoln hall a very nice, new 400 or so capacity venue. very weird show. he stuck exclusively to his nylon string spanish guitar and played brilliantly--the expected mix of new and red house painter stuff + barely recognizable covers of ac/dc, cars and modest mouse tunes. he's prodigiously talented, but one of the most unabashedly self-absorbed, anti-social performers I've seen. Despite the 90 degree heat, he insisted on turning off the air conditioning, then proceeded to either ignore or insult the very polite, reverential fans who kept trying to engage him and kept hoping he was just kidding. he has presence, and he can be funny, but in an uncomfortable, mean-spirited way. "i'm an awkward personality" he said at one point, "and i make other people feel awkward"
none of this makes for bad art, of course--by most accounts mozart, or miles davis were jackholes, too. it's strange, however, to hear music of such incredible fragility and beauty come from such a quirky tool--sorta shatters one's illusions. buy the records anyway.
Okay, you got me. Somehow, I've missed this guy (and Red Housepainters and Sun Kil Moon) entirely (though I've heard OF both these bands, I've never heard either of the bands' music). Would you guys kindly start me off with the best one or two recommendations to get a sense of what they (he) do(es) at both ends of the stylistic range you mention above?

Thanks in advance.

Marty my favorite by far is April, under the Sun Kil Moon name. If you can find the one with the bonus tracks it's worth it. Not that big on his early RHP stuff. Admiral Fell Promises is beautiful and well worth owning too.

I have heard he can come off as a dick. I have a soundboard recording from a show in Portland and he proceeds to tell the audience that their city is basically the first song. Of course he went on to play a gorgeous set.
Thanks Richard,

April and AFP are on the way to me as I type.

Enjoy Marty! You actually inspired me and I played April this morning. Had not heard it for a bit and it still has the magic for me. I never tire of that album.
for his more electric/eclectic stuff, i'd also check out rhp's "old ramon" and the first sun kil moon "ghosts". (i feel conflicted touting 'em after being so traumatized by his live show, but they're great stuff). let us know what you think after you listen.
Thanks Loomis,

I'll add those RHPs into the Amazon cart and check out if the 2 Sun Kil cds work out for me. I've had pretty good luck to date chasing down the stuff that both you and Richard enjoy, so I expect the chances are pretty good that I'll have a couple of RHPs in hand soon.

Richard, I thank you for your Mark Kozeleck recommendations. Vinyl fans, the CD releases are different from the vinyl.