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Sun Kil Moon – Benji

sunkilmoonMy first introduction to the music of Mark Kozelek dates back to the year 2000 with the release of his solo debut the EP Rock ‘N Roll Singer. Especially the outstanding hushed AC/DC covers impressed me enough to look into Kozeleks past discography. This, of course, brought me on the trail of the beautiful oeuvre of Red House Painters. The San Francisco band released five brilliant records between 1992 and 1996 (Down Colorful Hill Red House Painters I, Red House Painters II, Ocean Beach and Songs For A Blue Guitar) and returned once in 2001 with the stunning album Old Ramon. In that same year Mark Kozelek released a solo album titled What’s Next To The Moon that even exceeded most of his work with Red House Painters. Since then he’s released a host of solo albums as himself, most of which are live registrations and none of which sparked my interest enough to write about. The same goes for the five albums that Kozelek released under his Sun Kil Moon moniker since 2003. Beautiful albums each and everyone, but adding little to Red House Painters formula, if you ask me.

Kozelek is not exactly exploring new ground on his sixth Sun Kil Moon album. The sparse arrangements, often limited to some unobtrusive strumming on the acoustic guitar to sketch the background for his tormented singing, is pretty much what we’ve come to expect from Kozelek and yet, this time around he succeeds in captivating me, as he did at the start of the millennium. The dejection oozing from Benji seems more direct and personal than before. Kozelek takes us back to his childhood in Ohio, with some ups and mostly downs. A coming of age to which sex, music and death apparently were the central themes. The way he expresses all this small and great suffering is still admirably calm and seems more soul-penetrating than on previous albums. Especially when Kozelek retrieves the sadder memories of his childhood Benji mercilessly grabs you by the throat. And just when you think that’s enough pain and suffering, he chucks in some serial killers as an encore.

Looking back it seems as if Mark Kozelek has been practicing ropemanship for over a decade, regularly falling off into a hopeless slump and just as often falling of to the other side into open-ended nimbleness. Finally, practice has paid out in the form of an album that is admirably balanced and spot-on. Benji is Mark Kozelek’s overwhelming revenge over himself.

This review was adapted from a Dutch review on Krenten Uit de Pop

Last Enola Gay Crewman dies

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Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, the last living crewman of The Enola Gay, the plane that dropped first atomic bomb, died this Monday at 93. Coincidentally this Fuzz reviewer visited the impressive Pearl Harbor memorial on O'ahu, Hawaii two days earlier. … [Continue reading]

Polock – Rising Up

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When in Spain I like to honor two traditions. The first one involves eating large quantities of jamon Serrano, the second is going down to FNAC to buy the latest Jarabe de Palo album. When I was there in 2010 and the great man had no new album out, I … [Continue reading]

Popstrangers – Fortuna

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We start our biennial catching up with great releases we missed or unjustly ignored in the last six months of the year with Fortuna by Auckland's Popstrangers. Listening to this album, that was released May 27th, will give Bloggers past a certain age … [Continue reading]

Eli-Mac – Dubstop

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The concept of a summer hit doesn't make much sense in a climate consisting of sunshine and 25+ temperatures all year round. Still, for us haoles it does and we nominate Eli-Mac's Dubstop without any hesitation. The song forms a perfect soundtrack … [Continue reading]

Cibo Matto – Hotel Valentine

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Picked up from Spin's must-hear-albums of the 1st half of 2014, the reunion album of this New York City-based Shibuya-kei outfit was released in February of this year. Until a few days ago I had never heard of the band formed in 1994 by two Japanese … [Continue reading]

Bruddah Iz

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I was just finishing my review on the excellent sophomore album by New Zealand's Popstrangers when I realized that it's kind of weird to be writing about music made 11.000 kilometers away, when so far I've paid no attention whatsoever to the music … [Continue reading]

BAR – Welcome To BAR

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Sometimes I suspect journalists of Holland's leading music magazine OOR of drafting the reviews of some of the less anticipated releases by creative cutting and pasting from the press notes, without actually listening to the album. OOR's review of … [Continue reading]

White Lung – Deep Fantasy

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Even when we started the Fuzz, some five years ago, we did not have the illusion that we would differentiate ourselves by spotting undiscovered indie talent. Very occasionally, however, we almost literately stumble over great music before the leading … [Continue reading]

Morrissey – World Peace Is None Of Your Business

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Physically Morrissey wasn't in the best of shapes the last couple of years. On more than one occasion the former frontman of The Smiths had to cancel shows due to his ailments and studio work seemed out of the question. Not that a new album was … [Continue reading]