(re)discovery: Sun Kil Moon

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I’ve been a bit quiet over the summer radio break (we’ll be back for Fresh Fringe next month) because I’ve been spending a lot of the time on Super Inuit stuff but it also seems like I’m all-of-a-sudden getting into artists/records which I’ve ignored for at least two years, sometimes much more. First of all: Sun Kil Moon.

I missed all the fuss over Sun Kil Moon and Mark Kozelek until the hype which surrounded Benji last year. When Ian and Barry were strangers who I met in The Waverley to talk about joining what would become Trapped Mice it seemed Mark Kozelek, Will Sheff and Nick Cave were constant reference points. In research for this role I listened to a few Red House Painters songs but was far from overwhelmed so I put it down and didn’t think about it much until just under a year ago when Benji was the hottest record in the world and Patrick was on a Kozelek kick.

I tried with Benji, I struggled with Benji, I gave up on Benji and because of the r/indieheads circlejerk that Benji was a late career highlight of Mark Kozelek I didn’t feel the need to listen to anything else. This changed earlier this summer however when I was in Barcelona; hungover, concussed and entirely at the will of Ian, Ruari and Patrick who pushed Ghosts Of The Great Highway onto me. The debut Sun Kil Moon contrasted against Benji’s conceptual narrative and bare instrumentals. As I lay on a horrible mattress on the floor with layered headaches that debut Sun Kil Moon record struck me in a much deeper way than that of Barcelona’s ridiculously small door frames or 3 euro mojitos ever could.

Fast forward 48 hours and on return to Edinburgh Universal Themes had dropped. The record picked up various lukewarm reviews with the narrative and lyrics being subject to the most damning criticism. Hoping for something more built up I was pleasantly surprised by the record and its pleasing sound aesthetic. Others’ criticism that the record is too self indulgent and that most tracks don’t really go anywhere was not apparent to me.

Ghosts Of The Great Highway wasn’t something I had imagined existed within Kozelek’s discography. Both the debut and latest release contain moments which make me long for a listen to Nebraska and others for Galaxie 500 but overall both as aurally captivating rather than something you’d only really “get” if you had a read along on Ramblings-Over-Acoustic-Guitar Genius..

Excited for the show at Summerhall in a few weeks now. In the meantime I guess I’ll go have a listen so something else I really disliked a while ago – is that To Be Kind sitting at the front of Emmett’s box of records?

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