|Mark Kozelek & Desertshore — Mark Kozelek & Desertshore (2013)|
Mark Kozelek & Desertshore — Mark Kozelek & Desertshore
Mark born: January 24, 1967
Origin: Massillon, Ohio, USA
Location: San Francisco, California
Album release: August 20, 2013
Record Label: Caldo Verde
01. Mariette (3:02)
02. Livingstone Bramble (5:01)
03. Hey You Bastards I'm Still Here (4:04)
04. Katowice Or Cologne (3:45)
05. Seal Rock Hotel (2:59)
06. Tavoris Cloud (3:34)
07. You Are Not Of My Blood (5:58)
08. Sometimes I Can't Stop (6:42)
09. Don't Ask About My Husband (2:27)
10. Brothers (6:57)
• Phil Carney
• Chris Connolly
• Dave Muench
• Phil Carney Composer, Guitar
• Chris Connolly Composer, Keyboards
• Desertshore Primary Artist, Producer
• Andrew Gibson Bass
• Mark Kozelek Bass, Composer, Guitars, Lyricist, Photography, Primary Artist, Producer, Vocals
• Alan Sparhawk Vocals
• Mike Stevens Drums, Percussion
• Nathan Winter Engineer
• Website band: http://www.desertshoreband.com/
• Sun Kil Moon
• website: http://www.sunkilmoon.com
• Mark Kozelek
• website: http://www.markkozelek.com
• Caldo Verde Records
• website: http://www.caldoverderecords.com
• Chris Connolly
• Website: http://www.myspace.com/chrisconnollypiano
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Desertshore/134299656613304
• Press: Robert Vickers at Proxy Media or email@example.com
• Blog: http://desertshoreband.com/blog/
• "Recorded at San Francisco's Hyde Street Studios in March of 2013, Desertshore's 3rd release, Mark Kozelek and Desertshore, features 10 new songs co-written by guitarist Phil Carney (formerly of Red House Painters), pianist Chris Connolly, and Sun Kil Moon vocalist Mark Kozelek. While Kozelek guested as producer, vocalist and bassist on Desertshore's critically acclaimed Drifting Her Majesty and Drawing Of Threes, Mark Kozelek & Desertshore finds Kozelek singing throughout the record's entirety. Lyrical themes range from a day spent in New Orleans, an encounter with Church of Satan founder Anton Lavey, and the passing of friends and relatives. With drummer Mike Stevens (Sun Kil Moon) on board, this album finds the band in full force, making their way from the Motown swing of 'Mariette', to the Crazy Horse guitar innerplay of' 'Livingstone Bramble',to the delicate, Ravel influenced album closer, 'Brothers'."
• Un bon disque, comme d'habitude avec Mark Kozelek.
Review by Fred Thomas; Score: ****
• With 2013 shaping up to be one of his most prolific years, singer/songwriter Mark Kozelek followed a series of live albums with a collaborative studio album with Album Leaf's Jimmy LaValle and now Mark Kozelek and Desertshore, a collection of new songs made with members of his former bands Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon. In his earlier days with those bands, Kozelek's songs were dreamy and wistful, sadhearted but luxurious slowcore rooted to reality with his painfully honest autobiographical lyrics. In his numerous live solo albums, Kozelek's focus on the naked storytelling aspect of his music has come more into focus, with the chord changes from a spare guitar sometimes feeling like little more than an obligatory musical backdrop for his wordy, diary entry-like lyrics about the loneliness of traveling and growing older as an indie rock lifer. Made up of former Red House Painters guitarist Phil Carney, drummer Mike Stevens, and pianist Chris Connolly, Desertshore returns Kozelek's often raw lyrics to a rich bedding of narcotic folk-rock not unlike his work in the mid-'90s. What feels different is just how much he has to say, and the amount of direct details that make it into his songs. "Livingstone Bramble" manages to include scenes of talking with a panhandling crackhead, watching a boxing match on ESPN next to a sleeping girlfriend, and even buying a bottle of water at the corner deli before getting into a list of which guitarists make the grade and which the narrator dislikes. While Kozelek recites what could be a boring laundry list of what he did minute to minute over a Crazy Horse rhythm, the delivery somehow renders every mundane detail essential to the song. "Katowice or Cologne" fades out with him still spitting out lyrics about what he's daydreaming about doing on his vacation. He sometimes pulls the rug out from under himself with a stark dose of heaviness, jumping from lines about what he had for dinner to sad laments about the passing of friends like American Music Club's Tim Mooney and Magnolia Electric Co.'s Jason Molina. The country & western bounce of "Don't Ask About My Husband" offers a lighthearted tale of devious infidelity, switching up the narration from Kozelek's sometimes uncomfortably specific songs about his own life to that of a possibly fictitious character running around the world behind her spouse's back. Finding a midpoint between the lushness of the full-band arrangements and Kozelek's increasingly intricate and plainspoken songwriting approach, the album changes moods and colors song to song but offers so much emotional insight, both musically and lyrically, that the shifts are almost necessary to punctuate each overflowing statement. Nuanced, dark, funny, harrowing, but also amiable, Mark Kozelek and Desertshore is one of the more digestible and entertaining documents of what could stand as the most prolific writing period of Kozelek's already inspired career. • (http://www.allmusic.com/)
• I was reading this interesting Wilco piece a few days ago, which talks about how Jeff Tweedy has parlayed cult success into what appears to be a viable business model. It made me think of the strategies used by Mark Kozelek these past few years: how he keeps a steady stream of music, predominantly live albums, coming through his Caldo Verde label to satisfy his obsessive fans (and I suspect Kozelek fans tend to be by nature obsessive; I know I am).
• This year, Kozelek’s productivity has accelerated. Besides the discreet glut of live sets (actually only a couple thus far, now I’ve checked), there’s been a solo covers album (“Like Rats”), the Jimmy Lavalle collaboration (“Perils From The Sea”) and, now, a return hookup with his old friends Desertshore (“Mark Kozelek & Desertshore”). Kozelek, one might imagine, would see kindred spirits in Wilco, not least because they share a mutual friend or two (not least Alan Sparhawk, who’s back here singing on “You Are Not Of My Blood”; Kozelek was more or less an original member of Retribution Gospel Choir).
• That, though, would be underestimating the perverse care with which Kozelek strives to present himself as a curmudgeon. “Mark Kozelek & Desertshore” once again proves that great artists - and I’d strenuously argue that Kozelek has shown himself, over the past two decades, to be one – do not diminish their potency through thematic repetition. It features a lot of songs that once again confront family memories, girls, the consolations of San Francisco, the iniquities of touring, the allure of boxing, the act of creation, dead cats, dead friends and so forth.
• The songs don’t feel like they were conjured up as a batch for this specific project, even though guitarist and Red House Painters vet Phil Carney, and pianist Chris Connolly are credited as having written all the music. Instead, they roll on effortlessly from the diaristic studies of “Among The Leaves” (which I wrote about here) and “Perils From The Sea”. The settings may change - predominantly Spanish classical guitar for “Among The Leaves”, muted electronica on “Perils…”, downbeat chamber rock this time out – but Kozelek’s approach, and especially his sputtering new sprechgesang style, a kind of sadcore (ha) rapping (cf “Gustavo” on “Perils…”), is unerringly consistent.
• If there’s a lyrical shift, it’s a slow move away from the drolleries of “Among The Leaves”, and a return to more direct poignancies. “Livingstone Bramble”, though, is a striking exception, and the reason why Kozelek’s attitudes towards Wilco have been pushed to the fore. It begins with the singer unable to sleep, thinking once again about boxing (Bramble, it transpires, was a fighter), before turning into one of his songs about the compulsion to make music, with the focus on the technicalities of guitar playing. Kozelek, we learn, can play like Robert Fripp and Johnny Marr, like Malcolm Young and Neil Young. He rates Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Steve Vai and Kirk Hammett. • He is less impressed, though, with Jay Farrar, Derek Trucks and Eric Clapton, and reserves special contempt for, hilariously, Nels Cline. Twice, he pulls out the punchline, “I hate Nels Cline,” and follows it with a preposterously squiggly parody of a Cline solo.
• It’s a funny song, and one which artfully perpetuates Kozelek’s persona as a middle-aged grouch that he cultivates so assiduously at gigs nowadays. Maybe, too, it’s a calculated move to drum up a little controversy and notoriety, and – like the tale of meeting Anton LaVey in “Hey You Bastards I’m Still Here” - a tactical attempt to deflect attention away from the ruefully self-flagellating lyrics elsewhere on “Mark Kozelek & Desertshore”. They don’t detract in any way from a tender detailing of his uncles’ deaths and how his father responded to them (“Brothers”), or meditations on mortality prompted by the passing of his peers (Tim Mooney on “Tavoris Cloud”; Jason Molina on the amazing “Sometimes I Can’t Stop”, a song that, like "Somehow The Wonder Of Life Prevails" from “Perils…”, ranks as one of his very best). It just all presents Kozelek as a plausibly complex figure – one who admits “at the age of 46, I’m still one fucked up little kid.”
• Desertshore, meanwhile, provide the sort of empathetic support that recalls the backdrops Kozelek used in one of his strongest periods, around Red House Painters’ delayed last album, “Old Ramon” and Sun Kil Moon’s debut, “Ghosts Of The Great Highway”. If the relationship between Kozelek and the band seemed sketchy, exploratory on “Drawing Of Threes”, it feels fully resolved this time, as the band flesh out his ruminations with cycling, almost Tortoise-like figures on “Katowice Or Cologne” and “Seal Rock Hotel”, or bulk up with a Crazy Horse trudge (a mode that suits Kozelek, and that he should revisit more often) for “Livingstone Bramble”.
• Connolly’s work is especially great on “Brothers”, and on the little flourishes he adds to the end of “Mariette”, playing with a looseness that complements that familiar sense of Kozelek improvising his lyrics on the spot. It feels like fine craftsmen working with a mediated kind of spontaneity, and it suggests that, in the disappointing eventuality of anyone having fallen off the Kozelek wagon these past few years, this might be the album to bring you back onboard. Oh, and “You Are Not Of My Blood” wouldn’t have been out of place on the Rollercoaster album. How’s that sound? (http://www.uncut.co.uk/)
By Stephen M. Deusner; August 13, 2013; Score: 7.9
• "Just when you think Kozelek might be relating his days without reflecting on them, he lays out a stunner of a lyric to catch you off guard. “Tavoris Cloud”, named after another boxer, laments the sudden passing of his pet cat (who “slipped off to kitty heaven”) and, much more seriously, the death of his friend Tim Mooney of the San Francisco band American Music Club. “I’m grateful for your love,” he sings, “but at the age of 46 I’m still one fucked-up little kid who cannot figure anything out.” The senselessness of death-- the universe’s utter antipathy toward human closure-- reduces us all to idiot children, but it makes Kozelek revel in the small moments, like watching an old boxing match or waking up next to the woman he loves. The power of this collaboration, which will hopefully be the first of many to come, is that sometimes he sounds like he can’t believe his good fortune." (excerpt; http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/18363-desertshore-mark-kozelek-and-desertshore/)
|Mark Kozelek & Desertshore — Mark Kozelek & Desertshore (2013)|