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Old 06-20-2015, 11:56 AM   #151
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This album is a lot more interesting instrumentally than Benji. There's lots of variety. I love the riff in With A Sort of Grace and those dreamy parts with distant vocals make Little Rascals one of my favorite songs on here. The lyrics are definitely less inspriring though and that does drag it down a bit. Finishing a song that lasted 10 minutes and had a lot of lyrics and not knowing what the point was, is frustrating. Bit I guess that's what he was going for. I still like it a lot though.

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Old 06-20-2015, 01:56 PM   #152
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Mabe this is me sucking on Kozelek's teet, but I think the universal themes of the album are pretty obvious. The Possum is about death and meaninglessness, With A Sort Of Grace...is about friends being sick and the associated fear, This Is My First Day is about the fear of failure and the joy of success in mundane and surreal situations, Garden of Lavender is about nostalgia in the smallest moments in life, etc etc. I think all of these themes are relatable, it's just that Kozelek goes about writing about them in a very particular, obscure and inaccessible manner.
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Old 06-20-2015, 06:20 PM   #153
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I get that it's slap-dash, but Universal Themes is a way more interesting and creative album than Benji. It just came out post-asshole Koz, so everyone bags on it. Whatever. In 20 years, nobody will give a fuck and come crawling back, unless Mark kills somebody.
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:40 AM   #154
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After a few more spins... yeah, I don't really like this album. I also don't buy this idea that's a lot more interesting or creative than Benji. It's different musically, sure, but it hardly reinvents the wheel. With a Grace is quite heavy, Ali/Spinks 2 has a good, different groove and several of the tracks have interesting instrumental detours, but with an average running time of 794 minutes per track nearly every song outstays its welcome. (And I think you're (pl.) underselling Benji; that has a lot of underlaid guitar parts, beautifully double-tracked vocals, on-point drumming, cheesy, shitty Casio chords that make Mark himself cry, super-intricate, Nick Drake-esque acoustic guitar playing, even horns. And even when the music is simplistic it still fits every song so well.) The Possum is salvageable, and Ali/Spinks 2 I quite like despite hating it at first, and there are good parts in most of the songs, but yeah, won't be high on my end-of-year list. The lyrics are extremely tedious and something I didn't mention in my last post is that for a lot of the album he's singing in a higher register and he doesn't really pull it off so that grates quite a bit. I'm happy y'all motherfuckers like it but I don't really.

But that's okay because I still have Benji and Ghosts of the Great Highway and plenty more from him to check out
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Old 07-05-2015, 09:27 AM   #155
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It's cool. Take it or leave it, it's all good. I think Ali/Spinks 2 was the perfect track to release first because it immediately let you know what you were getting into. I heard that electric guitar that sounded straight out of the first two records and got chills. It just went on from there. I love the frankness and humor of the lyrics, I love the rambling song lengths with 2-3 songs tucked into each track, I love the variety of the instrumentation. It's an album that he needed to make because Benji carried forward a rather static musical development from the previous two records. April was the last Sun Kil Moon to really surprise me on a musical front, until Universal Themes.

Which isn't to say that Benji isn't wonderful. It's his second best record behind Ghosts of the Great Highway. The storytelling is dazzling and the melodies are sturdy. It was a new peak for him as a lyricist. I felt as if I was hearing someone reach the other side of a psychological breakthrough. But if Koz is one day remembered for being that grumpy guy that mumbles over quiet acoustic guitars, it will be for albums like Benji and Admiral Fell Promises, not Universal Themes. Benji is a meat and potatoes folk record that refuses to let the musical details cloud the big picture and that's a major strength. But honestly, if the lyrics hadn't been so enthralling, I probably would have forgotten about it already. Meanwhile, Universal Themes could be an engaging instrumental record for its arrangements alone. The lyrics are a step back because they often lack a profound emotional center, but thankfully there's still plenty to like.

Ultimately, this is all hypothetical. I love Benji as it is. I really like Universal Themes. I wish Koz would shut up sometimes.
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Old 07-05-2015, 10:54 AM   #156
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ok i agreed with this shit so now i have to change my opinion

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Old 07-05-2015, 06:29 PM   #157
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I like Universal Themes more than Benji, at least right now.

That's...uh. Kind of astonishing.
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Old 07-07-2015, 10:21 PM   #158
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Mark Kozelek to Release Spoken Word Album, Collaborating With Slowdive's Rachel Goswell | News | Pitchfork
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Old 07-09-2015, 12:38 AM   #159
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Here's a conversation about music and boxing between Mark Kozelek and Anar Badalov.
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Old 08-23-2015, 10:08 AM   #160
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New EP in October! Caldo Verde Records
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Old 09-27-2015, 07:31 AM   #161
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Here we go, again.
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Old 09-29-2015, 09:47 AM   #162
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He's getting ridiculous now.
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Old 09-29-2015, 11:12 AM   #163
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Except he doesn't have a successful album to ride on the coattails of this time around. I think this one sounds pretty funny reading the article (no Nando's Chicken, of course, but what is?) but he's slipping pretty quickly into irrelevancy.

If nothing else though I learned that Dream Police is by Cheap Trick and now I'm angry at iYup for all his slights against them over the years. Dream Police is a great song!
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Old 09-29-2015, 08:46 PM   #164
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Hahaha I do hate Cheap Trick. On my Rushmore for worst bands ever.
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Old 09-29-2015, 09:06 PM   #165
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A good song does not make a horrible band good.

(I do like He's A Whore.)
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