Release Date: Aug 20, 2013
Record label: Caldo Verde Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
With 2013 shaping up to be one of his most prolific years, singer/songwriter Mark Kozelek followed a series of live albums with a collaborative studio album with Album Leaf's Jimmy LaValle and now Mark Kozelek and Desertshore, a collection of new songs made with members of his former bands Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon. In his earlier days with those bands, Kozelek's songs were dreamy and wistful, sadhearted but luxurious slowcore rooted to reality with his painfully honest autobiographical lyrics. In his numerous live solo albums, Kozelek's focus on the naked storytelling aspect of his music has come more into focus, with the chord changes from a spare guitar sometimes feeling like little more than an obligatory musical backdrop for his wordy, diary entry-like lyrics about the loneliness of traveling and growing older as an indie rock lifer.
On “Livingstone Bramble”, from his new album with Desertshore, Mark Kozelek sets a lonely, late-night scene: It’s 3 am, his girlfriend is asleep in bed, and he’s got insomnia. “So I called up my Spanish promoter about a tour coming up in October, it was 4 am when I hung and I cuddled up next to my love. ” Except for the strict rhymes, it almost sounds like he’s reading directly from his diary: describing a hotel room that looks like every other hotel room, recounting the most mundane aspects of the music business, watching Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini fight Livingstone Bramble on ESPN Classic.
While most every indie rock fan is familiar with Mark Kozelek’s work in some form or another (be it solo, with Sun Kil Moon, or with the Red House Painters, which are all basically his projects at the end of the day anyways), even the most die-hard devotees of Kozelek’s moody rock vibe have had a hard time keeping up in the past few years, as Kozelek has been releasing material at an absolutely Pollard-esque pace. Since the start of 2012 alone, he’s released the Sun Kil Moon album Among the Leaves, the On Tour: A Documentary soundtrack, the Like Rats covers disc, Live at Phoenix Public House Melbourne, his Jimmy LaValle collaboration Perils from the Sea, and countless other bonus live giveaways on his Caldo Verde label website. Yet ever since he got his nylon string guitar on with 2010’s Sun Kil Moon album Admiral Fell Promises, it started to feel a bit like Kozelek was getting into a bit of a creative rut, circling the same tropes, creating albums that were relatively monotonous in terms of tone and texture.