Mark Kozelek & Desertshore
We are truly blessed. Two original Mark Kozelek albums within the space of a couple of months. They sound gloriously different. The collaboration with Jimmy Lavalle of Album Leaf was sparser, more electronic, whereas here the sound is traditionally Kozelesque. The most noticeable variation, though, is the pace. On Perils From The Sea, the songs were slow, the shortest clocking in at 5 minutes 10. Here, though, the speed can be veritably breakneck with five songs registering 3 minutes 45 or less and they’re none the worse for that. While there are differences, there are plenty of common features too. Both albums have songs about the death of close friends, not least the moving mention of the late Jason Molina on ‘Sometimes I Can’t Stop’. Both include tracks about the life on the road. This time around ‘Katowice or Cologne’ captures at once the total exhilaration and also the utter ennui of a touring musician. And, tellingly, both namecheck members of his family. We’re reacquainted, and once again in the fondest terms, with his sister and his niece. We also get to know more about his father. On the previous outing, we heard about his grandpa’s funeral, which was the “first and the last time” he saw his Dad cry. Here, on ‘Brothers’, we’re told about the death of three of his father’s siblings, Lenny at Pearl Harbor, Billy in 1989, and Bobby in late 2012. While it’s moving enough to hear of how his mother “put a gold star in the window and waited and waited for [Lenny] to come home but he never ever ever ever showed”, it just sets the scene for the last verse. “I’ll miss him like hell”, he sings about his 80-year-old Dad, “when I can no longer hear the sound, Of his voice giving me advice and telling me the latest news, When we can’t sit around and watch old movies in his living room”. Like the previous outing, though, there’s absolutely nothing morbid about this album. On ‘Tavoris Cloud’ he recounts yet another death, but this time it’s his cat who, he tells us, slipped off to “kitty heaven”. On ‘Livingstone Bramble’ he brags about how he can play the guitar like Neil Young and tells us how he hates Eric Clapton and Nels Cline. In fact, he tells us how he hates Nels Cline three times. It’s genuinely funny. Two collaborations. Two different sounds. But just one Mark Kozelek. And one is just right.