Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters


Here are a few of
my favorite songs:

Priest Alley Song
Sundays and Holidays
Revelation Big Sur
I Feel the Rain Fall
Have You Forgotten
Song for a Blue Guitar
All Mixed Up
Grace Cathedral Park
San Geronimo
Summer Dress
Shock Me


My Review

I have been on a big-time RHP kick lately. Well, lately as in since 1999. It's just so rare to find music that touches me like theirs does....where I just center my head between the speakers, close my eyes, and take it all in. They use a lot of acoustic guitar (and I LOVE acoustic guitar), and often they'll surprise you and come in with lots of other instruments half way through a song (Priest Alley Song, for example). The lyrics are just amazing. Most songs are very poetic and full of vivid imagery, yet some are also down-to-earth and also more realistic than most:

your praise little gifts you spent your money
and starved me with
didn't amount to anything
the attention i need is much more serious
a kind of weight you couldn't lift
even if your cheap career
depended on i

When I first heard Mark Kozelek sing, I liked his voice but didn't really think anything else of it... The more I listen to him, the more I realize how truly beautiful it is. His voice seems to come straight from deep down inside him, like he's singing you a bedtime lullaby. It's effortlessly beautiful with a subtle folk-like indieness. So if you like melancholy, beautiful, sad, happy, wistful and well played songs, then RHP is for you. I definitely recommend their album called "Songs for a Blue Guitar," but all of them are excellent. Some of my favorite songs are listed nearby.


Some Other Folks' Reviews

The Official Band Bio
from Supreme Recordings

Throughout their career, San Francisco's Red House Painters have always appreciated the importance of experimentaion. 'Songs for a Blue Guitar', their fifth album, continues this tradition. Unlike the previous three albums where songs were constantly reworked in the studio, 'Songs' began life as singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek's solo project. "'Ocean Beach' had been recorded, and we decided to take some time off from the band until the album's release," explains Kozelek. "I had some half-written songs. I had been producing a record for a local artist and met some musicians and decided to see what would happen if we booked some time in this remote studio out in the woods and went there to record without rehearsals."

The album was recorded quickly and sporadically over the first part of the year. "I was tired of being so analytical about the recording process, tired of endless pre-production and using tedious recording techniques with the previous albums. Being so anal, I feel I may have stifled the songs' natural energy. 'Songs for a Blue Guitar' is a more colorful, more dynamic record. It's a bit more playful towards the end, experimenting with cover songs and turning my guitar up. I enjoyed the whole process for a change," says Kozelek.

Unfortunately what so strongly inspired the musicians didn't take as well with Kozelek's label 4AD. "4AD in many ways has specific artistic boundaries and we're now outside of those boundaries," explains Kozelek. Songs such as "Have You Forgotten," "I Feel the Rain Fall" and "Another Song for a Blue Guitar" were recorded within 24 hours of having been written. "Song for a Blue Guitar" features the first Red House Painters male-female vocal duet. Also, the album is additionally colored by pedal- steel and piano.

After several reports described the album as being more full-out rocking in a Crazy Horse sort of way, the end result is far less an all-out assault than many might expect. "Songs takes a peek at how we're just beginning to get comfortable with the idea of playing loud and the next record will probably have a lot more of it," says Kozelek. The songs, "Make Like Paper," Yes' "Long Distance Runaround" and Paul McCartney & Wings' "Silly Love Songs" may graft the ragged feel of Neil Young onto Red House Painters' delicate textures, but at the music's core remains the strong emotional tie that listeners have come to expect from Red House Painters.

Formed in San Francisco in 1989 Red House Painters signed to 4AD Records three years later on the strength of their demo tapes, which were remixed and released as 'Down Colorful Hill' to strong critical praise. In 1993, the band recorded 23 songs which were released as two seperate albums, both self-titled. The "Shock Me" EP (cover of Ace Frehley's Kiss classic) showed the band didn't take themselves as seriously as all the articles being written about the retiring Kozelek, who does prefer quiet nights at home to the usual rabble-rousing of the rock set. 1995 saw 'Ocean Beach' open up brand new terrain for the band. Spare and acoustic, most of 'Ocean Beach' forsakes the hall-of-reverb for a more naturalistic sound.

'Songs for a Blue Guitar' comes as the long-awaited follow-up, though it was never intended to be long-awaited. In fact, Kozelek feels uncomfortable according such a spontaneous album so much weight. "It mostly was just an opportunity to go about things a little differently, to relax and experiment. The delays caused by switching labels may make it seem more significant than it really is. It's just a collection of songs I'm pleased with."


Red House Painters "Songs for a Blue Guitar"
Supreme Recordings/Island Records

The latest Red House Painters release "Songs for a Blue Guitar" (soon to be released) is a very excellent recording. What has always been good about previous Red House Painters releases are that the melancholy lyrics have always rose above boring journal-type poetry read at coffee houses. It has been so fashionable of late to be so sad, and in muzik and in poetry the saddness has turned so cliche. "my boyfriend / girlfriend left me... society has it out for me... i should be taking heroin..." Red House Painters frontman and lyricist Mark Kozolek has never sunk into cliche and if he has it's probably to make fun of it.

The muzik on the latest R.H.P. release is more varied than in their previous releases. In past releases like Down Colorfull Hill, Red House Painters (rollercoaster), Red House Painters (bridge), Shock Me E.P., and Ocean Beach the muzik has been pretty much in the same vein as the others and easily recognizable as a R.H.P. song. "Feel the Rain Fall" is a little more peppier than most of Kozolek's R.H.P.'s songs. "Feel the Rain Fall" could fit on Ocean Beach. The songs in general are a little more positive on this new release and if they are down they are not so introspective, but extrospective. The best song on the record is the opening track. "Have You Forgotten." The lyrics are beautiful. "I can't let you be because your beauty won't allow me. Wrapped in white sheets like an angel from a bed-time story. Shut out what they say cause your friends are fucked up anyway. And when they come around, some how they feel up and you feel down. When we were kids we hated things our parents did. We listened low to Casey Kasem's radio show. That's when friends were nice to think of them makes you feel nice. The smell of grass in spring and October leaves cover everything. Have you forgotten how to love yourself?" The song is just accompanied with a guitar and it's classic Red House Painters. The title track is a beautiful duet. I can't make out the female vocal. Twangy guitars, and that summer feeling floats over you. My grandfather asked me if I was playing country western muzik. "Make Like Paper" is a twelve minute rocker. Electric guitar, drums, Kozolek's usual vocals weighing the song down. Guitar solos and everything. This might be the song that 4AD owner Ivo Watts-Russell didn't like. Rumors have it that Ivo Watts-Russell dropped Mark Kozolek because of an eight minute guitar solo on this record. Well there are no eight minute guitar solos, but there are indeed solos. The solos are pretty kool. They are even kooler coming from Mark Kozolek because for the fans who have listen to the minimal sounds and the dejected Kozolek, it seems nice for Mark to have some fun. Make Like Paper could have fitted nicely on the "Shock Me E.P." "Priest Alley Song" is another beautiful song. "Kids down colorfull hill, recess, fire drill. She likes the side without the heat where the sun doesn't beat." Another nice summer tune and it ends rocking with acoustic guitar and violins and drums and it's not cluttered but nice. "Trailways" is the second best song on the record. This song is another in the fine tradition of Red House Painters. Slow acoustic pluckings, slow low vocals about a girl named Caroline, and a long instrumental fill.

Oh man rock and roll attack on "All Mixed Up." Heavy guitar riffs and huge drums fill this cover of the Cars. The introduction part of the song sounds absolutely nothing like a Red House Painters song until everything just stops and a piano and guitar lightly play into a beautiful song. The song builds up to a fuzzy shoegazer type song. This song is the hardest to review. Trust me that the track is good and it will be a suprise and hopefully you'll understand. The rest of the songs are beautiful and are all Red House Painters, but maybe a bit more twangy at times and maybe a bit more rockin at times and maybe an interesting blend that turns out to be an interesting release by the Red House Painters. 16 june vein


Red House Painters Lyrics

Back to more stuff at Kristen's Haven of Bliss

Copyright KCI Designs, 2002. All rights reserved.