Sun Kil Moon
Last week I wrote about a seasoned folk singer and the release of probably his best album to date, and this week I take on another folk journeyman in Mark Kozelek who is grabbing the critical ear with Sun Kil Moon’s Benji. The Ohio-born songwriter first arrived on the scene in 1992 as the distinctive voice behind Red House Painters, a band that established Kozelek’s style of beautifully somber and contemplative songs all played sweetly and delicately on acoustic guitar. Kozelek continued into the 21st century with a new outfit in Sun Kil Moon, keeping many of the characteristics of Red House Painter with a little darker tint. Kozelek has also released a string of solo records since 2000, including last year’s solid Mark Kozelek & Desertshore. Now comes Benji, arguably Kozelek’s most deeply personal and emotionally fragile record, describing in great detail the lives and deaths of numerous people, both near and far to Kozelek’s life.
Continue reading “Sun Kil Moon Review: Benji”
Today, we are looking at the top ten folk artists of all time. I think at the end of piecing this list together, none of us were particularly happy that some of our individual favorites didn’t make it. But that’s what happens when three individuals make a list this comprehensive. Setting that aside, let’s venture into the wonderful world of folk music through a little exercise I like to call Folk University – or Folk U. Sorry about the bad pun, but I couldn’t help myself this time.
Folk music has a lot of definitions, so we tried to stick to artists that have a wealth of material that would widely be considered “folk music”. This cut a couple borderline people out, but thus is the process of trying to form these lists. Each of the next ten artists holds a special place in our heart for one reason or another. Let us know who we left out, and who some of your favorite folkies are. Enjoy!
10. Nick Drake
Nick Drake burned extremely bright for a few years before dying of a drug overdose. He remains mysterious in almost all ways except for his talent, highlighted by his breathy vocals and vocal style that Trey Anastasio has clearly taken a few cues from.
Folk U Mandatory Listening: “One of These Things First”
Continue reading “Top Ten Thursday: Folk University – A Primer in Folk Music”
After the painful experience of reviewing Neil Young’s new cover album, Americana, we decided to go back to some of our old favorites, and create a list of the top ten cover albums. It was surprisingly difficult to find a comprehensive list of cover albums that have even been released, so I am certain we are missing a couple of classics, but also was very happy with strength of the list we came up with. Another couple items of note is that the album needed to be 75% covers to be considered and a lot of 1950’s and 60’s albums were not considered. A lot of early Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. albums were comprised mostly of covers because that’s just the way the music business was run back then. Somebody would have a minor hit, then ten artists would cover it to bandwagon and try to copy its success.
So what makes a great cover album? There are a lot of opinions on that, but we firmly believe it is not enough to simply mimic already great songs. What we like to see is an artist keep the feeling of the original but substantially change the arrangement. Also great is when an artist manages to rescue a song from obscurity and make it completely their own. There is not absolute formula to a great cover song or album, but as with most of our list the following selections hit us the hardest. On to the list.
10. David Bowie – Pin Ups
Bowie’s lat album with The Spiders from Mars was a tribute album to some of his favorite tracks from the 60’s. Pin Ups contains classic songs from The Who, a lesser known track from Pink Floyd’s most underrated era, a Kinks track for the ages, and some lesser-known bands that I probably would have never been turned onto otherwise such as The Pretty Things and The Easy Beats. All of these things fused with the Bowie twist means it is a sure-fire instant eargasm.
Continue reading “Top Ten Thursday: Best Covers Albums”