Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Sun Kil Moon, April (Caldo Verde)

Mark Kozelek’s tuneful drone of a voice and solid guitar chops, when wrapped about the melodies he snatches from thin air with alarming regularity, are always cause for celebration – or more accurately, for wistful longing and/or deep brooding. On April he conjures another set of stunners, an album which begins with the daunting “Lost Verses,” a song which, at nearly ten minutes long, provides something of a Sun Kil Moon primer. The next several tracks strum and wail and lull and thrash in a pleasing blur until the album crescendos on the ten-plus minute “Tonight the Sky,” an unruly guitar exercise which nevertheless retains its pretty core, lacing a tender vocal refrain amid the squall. If the final three tracks feel like a coda after that, it should be said that they form a damn fine one, and the four alternate performances on the second disc are similarly pleasing. On the last album of original Sun Kil Moon material, 2003’s Ghosts of the Great Highway, Kozelek provided two interpretations of his own song; the first, “Salvador Sanchez,” was a ragged take, built around a big electric guitar riff, while the second, called “Pancho Villa,” was the same song performed with a strummed acoustic guitar and a subtle backing arrangement. Both worked. And the beauty of April, as with so much of Kozelek’s work, is that you have the sense that he could pull the same trick with any of these songs, and the results would be equally impressive.

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