Sun Kil Moon is a band started by Mark Kozelek in 2003, named for Korean boxer Sung-Kil Moon. Kozelek had been the leader of one of the most unappreciated bands of the 1990s, The Red House Painters until the band dissolved in 1998 over a dispute with their record company. He then pursued a solo career until forming Sun Kil Moon.
I first heard The Red House Painters around 1995 and was knocked over by their sound and the raw intensity and honesty of Kozelek’s lyrics. I ended up owning all of their releases. I then caught up with Kozelek again in 2001 when he released an album of AC/DC covers, titled “What’s Next to the Moon.” I could never stand the sound and the bombast of AC/DC, and had no idea how good some of their music could sound, until I heard Kozelek’s versions. They were reworked as gentle, acoustic folk ballads, and this album has remained one of my all-time favorites ever since.
This week I received an advance copy of Sun Kil Moon’s new CD, “Among the Leaves,” to be released on May 29. It’s their fifth studio album, and I think it may well be their best. Sparse and quiet, it still has an edge right below the surface that is hard to define. The lyrics are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always brutally honest in their autobiographical nature. Just the kind of thing for which Kozelek is known. It’s definitely in the running for my favorite album of the year.
Here is one of the songs from “Among the Leaves,” entitled “That Bird Has a Broken Wing.”