The slowest of cores in this actually sadcore Rock band known as “Red House Painters”, an act fronted by Mark Kozelek who is one of the most talented songwriters alive as well as underrated. With another three guys he had this act going for around thirteen years. From Atlanta he brought Anthony Koutsos, the drummer and then already in California where Mark is currently residing. With them Mark released 6 albums being my favourite “Song for a Blue Guitar” already a twenty one year old specimen.
However the reason we are talking about Mark Kozelek is what he did after 2001 when this band dissolute. In 2002, back again to the roots with his friend Anthony in the drums and a guitarist that has changed quite frequently, with a new name inspired in a Korean lightweight boxer, “Sun Kil Moon”. Following up the boxing inspiration they conceived their first album in late 2003, “Ghost of The Great Highway” filled with stories of different boxers who died aged twenty three.
In 2005 Mark creates his own record label in San Francisco called “Caldo Verde Records” probably inspired in the delicious Portuguese Soup with the same name. Another demonstration of Portuguese connections was having included in “Sun Kil Moon” for a while Vasco Espinheira, Portuguese guitarist known for being part of Blind Zero. With his own label he released the second album of his new project called “Tiny Cities”. A compilation of eleven songs covering “Modest House” songs, an Indie Rock band Mark dearly admires.
The third studio album was then released in 2008 with some vocal features like Will Oldham and Ben Gibbered and was recorded with the band something that did not happen in 2012 with “Admiral Fell Promises” where Mark recorded the whole album by himself with a nylon Spanish guitar. And that demonstrates quite well what is the genius of this man. Give him a guitar and he will build you a story around probably some unfortunate boxer in his twenties or about Kathy, one of his cousins, or even about some little universe he created in his mind. And it will all be beautifully sang and accompanied with the guitar. Definitely an inspiration for many contemporaneous artists like Ben Howard, Jack Johnson and I would even risk Devendra as well as other solo artists that choose their guitar as their only companion.
It was however quite recently, in 2014 that the greatest recognition for his work came after the release of “Benji” the sixth studio album with the song getting the most attention being “Ben’s my friend” ending up being the reason as well for me to write this article since it was the first one I have heard from him. My favourite from this album though is “Carissa” due to the rawness of the lyrics as well as the picking of the guitar guides perfectly the rage behind death.
His latest two albums, “Universal Themes” (2015) and the most epic of them all although a bit hectic “Common as Light and Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood” (2016) are quite not the same as what he was doing previously losing the sublime tone of his message and being more sadistic and angry than mellow and sad as we loved him. However he has done more music than many can claim and has contributed to inspire many more that will come after him. If nothing more than that, he has made many couples happy while looking at a sunset and enjoying one of his songs where someone dies and is remembered for what he did wrong in life to proves that we all live, we all fuck up and we all end up as the people in his songs, dead.