Speak Into My Good Eye

The Daily Listen: Sun Kil Moon – Third and Seneca EP

Nick Hertzberg December 22, 2014 New Music, Reviews No Comments

Sun Kil Moon

I don’t pay much attention to celebrities, gossip or drama. It confuses and angers me how much money, predominately in America, we put into watching and hearing about where their favorite musician ate last night or what this one was wearing on the red carpet.

Sometimes it is too easy to let the gossip affect how you feel about someone… celebrity or not.

Despite that, Miley’s constant wild antics didn’t make me not appreciate all that was glorious in “Wrecking Ball,” and Lindsay’s stints in and out of every fixer-upper house there is and was still doesn’t detract me from watching some “Mean Girls.”

If one is to pay any attention to the, and I use this genre name carefully, “indie-rock,” scene as of late, you have seen a drama “war” being launched by Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon onto the band The War on Drugs. Basically, someone played too loud during someone else’s set at a festival…someone then made a song saying for said band to “suck their cock.” So on, so forth.

And yes, these are adults. Paid professional musicians.

However, just as I give a pass to those celebrities in trouble, I do not let these incidents take away from the fact that Mark Kozelek can write one hell of a song. His album from 2014, Benji, ends up on many year end lists, as it may end up on mine (we will see next week.)

What I chose to cover this week was the fact that Sun Kil Moon’s longly anticipated EP Third and Seneca is finally getting the vinyl treatment. The title track was a song from his 2010 full-length “Admiral Fell Promises” and the alternative version, alongside some covers, were released as a complimentary album, the “I’ll Be There” EP, around the same time. The record was supposed to be released about two years ago via the Vinyl Films label and finally is now out. Everywhere I look it is very hard to find in both the black and gold variants, but below you can hopefully still grab it on Amazon.

The album opens with the title track “Third and Seneca (Alt. Version)” which is just as delicate and moving as the original, just a bit more rough in quality and color. Gone are some of the original version’s harmonies, effects and glitter, replaced with something much more personal. We are given a more straight forward and gritty acoustic guitar sound with less of an overdubbed feel, especially prevalent when headed into the more technical playing portions of the bridge. Coupled with this are adjective rich and deeply personal lyrics about where Kozelek has been and what he has seen, painting for the listener a steady melancholic shade across the entire United States. You truly can feel you are sitting in a room watching him perform this song instead of it being a studio product.

Alongside the original tune, the album is composed of three short cover songs in which he manages to make all his own. With a reinterpretation of The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There,” Kozelek brings back a sincere warmth and intimate sensation of the classic song using just his sombering voice and acoustic guitar. “Natural Light” by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and “Tomorrow is Already Here” by Stereolab are outstanding full band tracks on their own, but stripped down and re-conceived by Kozelek here- it is hard to tell they just weren’t just super short Sun Kil Moon songs to begin with. Justice is definitely done to all of the covers.

We can all judge for ourselves and say what we will about the drama caused and publicity stunts earlier this year. Was it childish? Probably. Did it get more people to pay attention? Definitely. Will is prevent him from ending up on big publications and blogs AOTY lists? No way.

I just personally feel when an artist can create something so powerful using their voice and a simple guitar… even breathing new life into the art that others have produced…it speaks louder than any other words.

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