Sun Kil Moon - Tiny Cities
Reviewed by Simon on 3rd March 2006
What a glorious proposition this album is; eleven classic tracks from the Modest Mouse back catalogue compiled and covered by sadcore / slowcore legend Mark Kozelek and his most recent band Sun Kil Moon. Kozelek, previously of Red House Painters and solo fame, has long had a knack and reputation of producing completely reworked cover versions of implausible tracks so a complete album of covers by one band close to his heart isnâ€™t too surprising. After all, heâ€™s released a solo collection of AC/DC songs and organised a tribute compilation for John Denver in the past.
Possibly this is his most ambition covers work to date though, taking the complex multi-layered many instrumented works of Modest Mouse and stripping them down to lovely acoustic little stories and ballads. In fairness this bears far more resemblance to a Mark Kozelek solo album with session musicians than it does to a Sun Kil Moon or Red House Painters album as itâ€™s stripped down to a ridiculous degree in places - simple strumming and gorgeous vocals are the order of the day here.
At only half an hour long the album packs a surprisingly large emotional punch as Kozelekâ€™s forlorn and meandering take on the previously short and snappy vocals revolutionises the tracks into miniature heart tugging behemoths. Miniature isnâ€™t a word you could usually associate with works masterminded by Kozelek (his songs often run to nine minutes) but here everything is kept to a minimum length, almost like little outtakes from a radio session in fully mastered quality.
Although this is the sort of album which will undoubtedly take most listeners a few plays before they fully appreciate it, the standout tracks are easy to spot right away. Space Travel Is Boring is a beautifully depressing take of being homesick which fits the voice of its new artist more than itâ€™s creator. Towards the end of the album the pace really picks up with the more interesting tracks coming think and fast. Convenient Parking is a tuneful 120 second blast through the original, Truckerâ€™s Atlas tells a tale of a long journey with sublime lyrical poise (credit is due to the original artist here) and Ocean Breathes Salty rounds off this outing by lending itself perfectly to Kozelekâ€™s hauntingly note perfect vocals and unbelievably sublime arrangement skills.
Itâ€™d be easy to dismiss a half hour acoustic jaunt solely through cover versions as a novelty or an exercise in self-indulgence on the part of the artist, but anybody willing to spare the time to give this a listen will instantly take those thought back. Itâ€™s not just a collection of covers; itâ€™s both a magnificent tribute to Modest Mouse and a complete reworking of the originals - a must for fans of both artists and most people in between.
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