Mark Kozelek stands alone. - Oh My Rockness

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Mark Kozelek stands alone.

September 27, 2006
Rock mainstay, Mark Kozelek, has done a ton of things musically in his already prolific career, but nothing beats seeing him solo. He is at his finest when he's at his simplest.

I may be a heathen to some (in fact, many), but I was never really that impressed with the Mark Kozelek-led Red House Painters. I think I wanted to like their melancholically melodic folk more than I actually did. Likewise, Kozelek's post-Red House project, Sun Kil Moon, (at least initially) failed to drive me crazy with glee. However, I should say that after a more than shaky debut, SKM stepped it up with the release, Tiny Cities, a sparse and stellar tribute to Modest Mouse. But really, it's the stuff that Mark Kozelek does on his own, and without a collaborating cast, that comes as close to perfect acoustic folk-pop as you can get.

Whether he's covering Modest Mouse, AC/DC, John Denver or singing original material, Kozelek's music can be simply transcendent in its sadness. I'm not sure why he fails to deliver this bliss when he's in a band. Perhaps it just doesn't work because he tries to "rock" instead of letting the finger picking be his guide. But it's probably just because Kozelek's strong baritone sounds at its depressing best when accompanied solely by the sparseness of his acoustic guitar.

I've listened to Rock 'n' Roll Singer and What's Next To the Moon over and over and over and it's still like hearing them for the first time. If you're in the mood for reflection and don't have time to visit Walden Pond... listen to these releases.

Seeing Kozelek live, it's clearly apparent what a rabid fan base this guy has. The barrage of requests from the crowd was unceasing throughout his entire set. The man couldn't even pause 2 seconds to tune between songs without hearing shouts for songs he wrote fifteen years ago. Clearly, Red House Painters meant something to a lot of people. And while Sun Kil Moon certainly has their groupies too, it's just best to see Kozelek by himself. If he's sitting on a stool at this show, you know you're in for a treat.

Mark Kozelek plays The Black Orchid, on Thursday, October 5th.


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