Fist heard this guy about three years ago. i hear something i like on a mojo or uncut sampler that ill have in the car fir a month and mentally clock it long before i know who the band are. Eventually the songs become lodged in the " must check out further" folder of the old cerebral hard drive. This is how i discover lots of bands and artists no more so than this fella. The only problem, if it is problem, is that it opens up yet another seam of music to mine through. This guy has a large back catalogue to explore starting with a band called the Red Houses painters who I'd never even heard of till recently.
From what i have read the time i began to notice him coincides with a softening of his music giving it more accessibility. That remains to be seen though as ill certainly be checking it out. Any of you know about him? Maybe Butts if he notices this. Any of his earlier stuff that stands out. I think he has done a ton of covers radically altering them including a load of AC/DC stuff.
Last year he did two absolutely brilliant albums. One as part of a band called Desertshore and one with Jimmy LaValle. Before that there are two Sun Kill Moon albums which is his own band that i love. Admiral Fell Promises and Among the Leaves.
Seems an intense sort of bloke as well. His songs, like Bill Callahan's are very personal and direct and sometimes quite funny. I remember an interview with him were he said England sucks his soul and depresses him although i think that was due to the train ride into London from Heathrow. He does a song called UK blues that captures that.
Any way. Ill put a selection of stuff on here for you to listen to sometime if it takes your fancy, see what you think.
First off something off the Desertshore album
* Taps foot appreciatively. *
The Benji album by Sun Kill Moon was reviewed in the latest Mojo. It's on my list. That is all.
I'm not fully sold on him but he's a fascinating and very talented character. His lyrics can be quite shocking - about catching the clap off groupies or failing to perform in erm...threesomes - all of which is usually set to a bucolic and semi-classical arrangement.
His songs are very personal and he fits an awful lot of words into them. Live, he can be quite fractious - saw him at the Union Chapel in 2012 and although I was in awe of his talent I didn't much like him as an individual. That said, the songs on Benji about his mum and his dad are very tender - and funny. The song Dogs is a jaw dropper.
He's at End Of The Road this year, and assuming he'll have a post watershed slot as he ain't family friendly. Aside from his LPs this year and last my favourite of his would be Admiral Fell Promises (as Sun Kil Moon).
Check out the lyrics to this, from the new album
Definite album of the year for me with Benji and also one of if not the most memorable gig with his set at Green Man. Not just that but the interview with him in this month's Uncut is the best I've read for years. Fecking gutted I'm missing his Brudenell set. Can't believe I've let that slip through.
If you don't like this there is seriously something wrong with you. From Green Man this year, cant embed
Marks' got himself in trouble again. Rude inappropriate sad misogyny from a middle age man in crisis or misunderstood artist just pissing about depending on who you believe. Matters little to me for the time being anyhow. I love his music and have been looking forward to this gig for a few months now.
The gig was moved from the original Brudenell venue after he cancelled at the last minute earlier this year. Still an all seat arrangement and the crowd of around 400 were hushed, almost lukewarm in their applause as he and the band took to the stage. Two other guitarists, one seated and a drummer accompanied Marks vocal and own electric guitar with occasional percussion.
His banter with the crowd is well known. Surveying the front he explains that it's his first time in Leeds and asks how long has it been a retirement home for the over 55s.
Its good natured stuff, even the self effacing flirting with young Rachel from the audience who did a sonny and Cher i got you duet with him on stage was quite charming.. I wonder if this canvass of bonhomie and blokish normality he sets is deliberately done to make the questions about his darker side appear ridiculous. He obviously has a manipulative side. Someone who can throw up such powerful lyrical landscapes of pathos and melancholy must have if they want to get laid now and then. But like so many performers i suspect too much too easily has compromised his ethical framework.
But it is his music i came for. First time at the back in the lounge area for me at the Irish center. The all seating arrangement dictated so. Wasn't too happy about that actually with the huge extended letter box partition dividing the lounge and the stage area creating a kind of framed panorama view of the band. The sound was fine and at least the whole stage was visible from our raised area.
They opened with Mariette from the Desert Shore album and then a little jibe from Mark about the popularity of the Benji album ushered in Micheline. A song that if you haven't already shed a tear to on this thread then get the fuck out of it. See its easy for weary middle age humour to the misunderstood.
His vocal got a bit rough and roary on the accentuated lines as it did on a few of the songs. It gave them a forlorn earthier quality but wouldn't work on record.
Earlier audience reticence soon evaporated to be replaced by a warm reverence as Marks' engaging manner off set the sombre themes of his songs. Hey you bastards I'm still here, about his dad resonated with many of the crowd I'm sure. Richard Ramiraz died of natural causes positively thundered whilst a few songs mid set knitted together as a long medley. Interesting selection as well omitting many album favourites Ali/Spinks representing his love of boxing and an ace version of He Always Felt Like Dancing from the jimmy Lavelle album
I Watched The Film The Song Remains The Same is seminal. Stupidly empathetic and confessional. I will take this melancholy to the grave is the seminal line from it. The tragic epicentre of a poetical storm.
I can't understand some people's distaste for sad music. Its life. If you don't like sad music you can't like life if you ask me, i know you won't. Sadness is all around, unavoidable but the way you deal with it goes a long way in defining you. Some ignore it, some are crushed by it but ironically sad songs celebrate it and overcome it. Usually......
It's probably this incessant concentrated sadness element of his music. Writing and delivering with conviction day in day out all year that opens up these avenues of mischief he gets into occasionally. The criticism he gets certainly makes an impact as a couple of times he ironically explains what a bad man he is.
There's a lull in the chatter as mark and the band immerse themselves in the music and reach the finale. They come back for a two song encore that sees mark almost incumbent front stage singing the lyrics to I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love and Caroline. A few nice words of appreciation to the crowd and crew and he was away with the crowd much warmer than upon his arrival. I guess he won us over.