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The haunting vocals of Mark Kozelek

By Vanessa Krystin Wong

Known for his haunting, baritone style of vocals, Mark Kozelek has had a successful solo career along with his bands: Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters. Following a major label merger in 1998, leaving Red House Painters’ album on the shelf and stifling the group’s momentum, Kozelek occupied himself with a series of solo recordings as Red House Painters dissolved.

During the 2000s, he released the solo EP Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer, which featured three original songs as well as three AC/DC covers. Two of the AC/DC covers were radical re-arrangements of the originals, removing the Bon Scott lyrics from their hard rock context and into a “gentle acoustic folk ballad” setting.

Expanding on this idea in 2001, he released a full-length album composed solely of AC/DC covers titled What’s Next to the Moon. This was not the first time Kozelek had drastically re-arranged others’ material to his own ends; he had previously done similar reconstructions with Red House Painters.

In 2003, Sun Kil Moon debuted with Ghosts of the Great Highway, which features former Red House Painters members Jerry Vessel and Anthony Koutsos. Their follow-up album appeared in 2005 on Kozelek’s newly formed label, Caldo Verde Records. Titled Tiny Cities, the album is made up entirely of covers of songs by Modest Mouse.

When asked as to why he’s released more covers than originals in the past years:

“I’m just writing less of my own music lately—I go in and out of phases a lot. Sometimes there are these accidents that just sort of happen, that are kind of waiting around the corner. I guess Modest Mouse was one of them. I mean, five years ago, I didn’t know who the band was. [Laughs.] And then by chance I saw them live, and something about it just kind of got into my system, and the next thing you know, I felt compelled to go make that album. Had I not seen them and had they not had that effect on me, it’s hard to say where I’d be.”

Sun Kil Moon’s sixth album of original material, Universal Themes, is scheduled for release on June 2, 2015.

Catch him on April 11th at VENUE for a very exclusive intimate set!

By Jasmine Lee

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