With One L
Some bands capture you from the first time you hear them. Voices of certain singers are so powerful, so beautiful that you cannot help but stop and listen. Sun Kil Moon was neither of those for me.
One of the perks of working at the library was I came across a great deal of new music. It was a risk free investment to take a CD home, listen to it, find out if it was worth owning, worth a second or third listen. Some times I uncovered a gem, other times…ugh.
Another perk was coming across donated material and ‘borrowing’ it for an unspecified amount of time. This was the case with my first exposure to Sun Kil Moon.
I knew of Mark Kozelek from his work in Red House Painters. It was a band I had heard of, even recognized a few songs, but I never owned any records. I knew they had disbanded and that was about it. A friend had mentioned in a sort of off hand way that he really liked this current work by Kozelek (SKM) and even recommended a song or album I might like to try. I had brushed off the suggestion and forgotten about the band entirely. Then, one night, there it was in the donation bin, a pretty black album called April. The conversation came back to my mind and I decided to take the CD home. If I hated it, no harm done. It would be back by my next shift.
I put the CD in the player during the ride home. “Lost Verses” was the first track I heard. Nearly ten minutes long, it consisted of what I though of as bland guitar, bland singing, unemotional music. I skipped ahead to the next track, then the next; same boring voice, boring guitar. I was unimpressed. Then, two minutes deep in a track called “Lucky Man”, something changed. I finally got it. I stopped the car about two blocks from my house and finished the song. The voice I found uninspiring just minutes before was digging its way inside of me. I played “Lost Verses” again. It was like hearing an entirely different song. Beauty is an often overused idea and so abstract, so difficult to understand that I hesitate to use it, but that is what this music became to me, beautiful. The songs were full of such longing, a pining for something I couldn’t verbalize, but totally understood. There was no way I was ever giving this CD back.
I wish that I could write one song as good as the 11 tracks on this one CD are. How pleased I was to find that I had two more records to devour, plus a solo record and another chance to like Red House Painters (which I do).
I often link to heavy songs on this blog; loud boisterous music that is hard for many to really appreciate. I get that. Sun Kil Moon is not one of those bands. If you already like them, enjoy the songs below all over again. If you haven’t heard them before. Find a nice quiet place and listen. Headphones are the best option. Get yourself someplace where you can really pay attention to your emotions. See if you don’t feel the same.
Since first listening to April, there have been two more full length releases. The newest record came out at the end of May. The songs get better and better. Listen. Enjoy.
Tiny Cities Made of Ashes– from an album of Modest Mouse covers. A very different take on the song, which is what a clever cover should do, right?
Carry Me Ohio– from the record Ghosts of the Great Highway.
Lucky Man– The song that changed my opinion.
Blue Orchids-Off April as well.
Half Moon Bay– From Admiral Fell Promises. Perhaps my favorite song from SKM
Elaine– from the newest release Among the Leaves