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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sun Kil Moon - A Spanish flavoured acoustic gem to treasure and love, July 13, 2010
This review is from: Admiral Fell Promises (Audio CD)
Do not trust the following since for this reviewer Mark Kozelek a.k.a. Sun Kil Moon could sing the contents of the menu from the local Burger Den and five stars would follow. Ever since his days in the Red House Painters a growing number of people have been in "on the secret" that the spellbinding voice and songs of Kozelek rank up there with the best in modern music and that "Ghosts of the Great Highway" and "April" have been two of the greatest albums from the past decade. "Carry me Ohio" off "Ghosts" remains one of my all time favourite songs and as such for this reviewer this is one of the most anticipated albums of 2010. It has streamed on Kozelek's Myspace page for well over a week and is now super glued in the CD player.

Kozelek makes music that is haunting, deep, melancholy and often very intense. On "Admiral Fell Promises" his latest album under the Sun Kill Moon moniker he locates in his music much more in the territory of previous songs like "Heron Blue" rather than the Neil Young orientated rock of "Salvador Sanchez". This is fully an acoustic set performed entirely by Kozelek on nylon-stringed guitar with a Spanish ambience pervading throughout its course.

"Admiral Fell Promises" in terms of seasonal cycles is a very autumnal album. It reeks of an atmosphere of falling leaves, cold grey days and a certain nostalgia linked to the imminent arrival of winter. It starts off in splendid style with "Alesund" opening with a long guitar introduction and drifting into a brilliant melody slightly reminiscence of Bob Mould's "Sunspots". Kozelek's guitar playing throughout is immense and his vocals are clear, a fault on some of his songs in the past. The exquisite "Half Moon Bay" gently rolls and speaks of "leaving the world behind" a quality which this music constantly induces. "Sam Wong Hotel" is so fragile it could break with a superb acoustic guitar section about 3 minutes in. It is followed by the near eight minute "Third and Seneca" which is probably the nearest equivalent to being this albums "Lost verses". Listen to the "Leaning Tree" one of the true highlights of AFP and you discover three songs within a song one a yearning love song the other from about 2.00 minutes on a much harsher dream like composition full of bubbling flamenco style guitar and then after five minutes a saunter to the finish line.

Both "Australian Winter" and the title track have been well trailed around the web for weeks. The brilliant former song could have equally been named "Andalusian winter" bearing in mind its authentic Spanish quality and its dramatic flourish. It is destined to be a staple of Kozelek's live set as is the title track which is probably the most accessible song on the album. Weaknesses are few but "Church of Pines" with its weird echo vocal is not a great success.

"Admiral Fell Promises" is nearly sixty minutes containing all kinds of shades, shadows and light. I am not sure it would be the best starting point for anyone new to Kozelek to access his work since it may be seen to be too monotone or lacking upbeat interludes. Yet the comment in Jon Brown's excellent Amazon review of "April" is pertinent at his point where he argues that Kozelek's music is like "a fading Polaroid in reverse - the more you expose yourself to it, the more it comes into focus". Thus for those who have grown to treasure his previous work you sense that in "Admiral Fell Promises" he has made an album which is more personal to him and more uniquely about his vision of music. It represents the obvious end of one journey and probably the start of another. It is a spare and beautiful record which could not be further away from the bright sunshine outside. Kozelek is a songwriter with intense gifts and most of all someone who fully understands the maxim of the great British writer Aldous Huxley who once stated that "after silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music".
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "No wonder she left you...", August 7, 2010
This review is from: Admiral Fell Promises (Audio CD)
A friend of mine lent me his copy of 'Down Coulourful Hill' in 1992 when I was going through a particularly tough break-up and Kozelek has been with me ever since. I've had a drink with him, serendipitously, at the Crocodile Cafe when he shared a booth with my friends and I before a SKM show and the guy is all class. Hands down, one of the best singer/songwriters/voices ever. Never heard a song I didn't like from any RHP, SKM, or solo works and his live banter with crowds is reason enough to see him perform--funny as hell. He was interviewed in the early 1990s in either NME or Melody Maker--can't recall--during his solo tour of Europe sans the RHP band and there was a great quote by someone attending one of his shows who had shouted during one of his sets, "No wonder she left you", and that quote has stayed with me all this time and cracks me up everytime I think about it within the relativity of his lyrics...Admiral Fell Promises is simply another fantastic release from one of this generation's greatest muscial artists. I lived in Andalucia (Sevilla) quite some time ago so I naturally love Mark's new satorical search within Spain/Spanish music. Not enough positive things I can say about this guy. From his REO Speedwagon to AC/DC to Modest Mouse covers to eveything he's done, I hope the ride goes on and on and on...
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps monochromatic at first, then depth to the shades of gray, and eventually sparkles of light..., July 28, 2010
This review is from: Admiral Fell Promises (Audio CD)
In fact, I took a couple of weeks off from the album before revisiting it. As another commenter said, it is about finding the space of this music. It's not a room one walks into most days; it's even deeper in the heart--the things haunting the corners of sleep, or moments of dogged hope felt alone as rain brings day to evening, or a gray sunrise barely tendrilled by streaks of rose. At any rate, as I come back to the album, the songs do vary, sometimes greatly, in music and in mood, which I could not pick up on in my first listens. I fall into the album now, recognize its rainy windowpanes and small, ornate bedstands, feel it as a small European town hotel room I stay in while traveling alone. For those whose souls are rent by MK's vision, AFP is well worth the investment, although the cd is less readily accessible than April or Ghosts of the Great Highway. Give it its space, then sit by the window and listen.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monochromatic Beauty, July 13, 2010
This review is from: Admiral Fell Promises (Audio CD)
Following just two years--a fairly prolific pace for him lately--after the SKM breakthrough album April, Mark Kozelek returns with yet another sprawling album of autumnal serenades. On first listen, it is fairly obvious that this album does not have what previous Kozelek albums generally benefit from: even a hint of variety. In the past they were tempered by boisterous, Crazy Horse-inspired electric numbers to provide the listener with some sense of texture beyond the languorous, exquisitely sad atmospheric acoustic songs which are his bread and butter. In fact, the only instrumentation here is Kozelek's Spanish nylon-string guitars and his ever-deepening voice. The effect is his simplest, most seemingly stripped down, but emotionally complex work, though it took a while for this listener to get into the same space as the music, as it absolutely makes no concession to your idea of what his music should sound like. After a while, the most impressive songs ("Half Moon Bay," "Third and Seneca" and "The Leaning Tree," all classic Kozelek travelogues in song, though more and more, his songs are less about physical travel, than about taking listeners on a more interior journey through memories and frozen images.) The best songs eventually shine through the gauzy mood of the record as a whole, though the album fails to scale the impressive heights of his previous works. It is interesting to see and hear that he is finding new inspiration through his interest in Flamenco-style guitar--and this album, arguably, represents the finest technical playing of his long career--although his sonorous voice and heartbreaking songs should never fail to find appreciative ears. Not an easy listen, but ultimately very rewarding.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of these days..., July 16, 2010
By 
Eric B. Meyer (Cherryfield, Maine) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Admiral Fell Promises (Audio CD)
Like many, I've been listening to Mr. Kozelek's music for some time now. Never tiring of the moments he recounts, the bits and pieces he shares... sharing so much. As he continues to hone his vision, with each new release holding the promise of his finest work yet, AFP is much like my first hearing of Sundays and Holidays. Every time he inexorably turns the corner from "third and seneca" to his view on 32nd street, I feel a flood of emotions so hard to hold back, like some inner dam bursting. Not sure why but that's how his music works for me. There's much to reflect upon. Seemingly driven and hardworking. Please keep up the perfect and honestly good work. Oh, and thanks for sharing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoy Kozelek's classical guitar, September 15, 2011
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This review is from: Admiral Fell Promises (Audio CD)
I bought this album for my girlfriend (and understandably, kind of for myself as well), and we have greatly enjoyed Kozelek's musing vocals and skilled classical guitar.

This album is certainly not of the genre that will provide a catchy tune to mumble along with mindlessly while driving and texting, or doing something else stupid. Rather, it's a great album to immerse oneself in and appreciate great musicianship (I really do think his classical guitar skills are superb). That's not to say that I think you shouldn't memorize and sing his lyrics, because it's wonderful when my girlfriend sings these songs while we're together. In sum, this is music to be taken and digested thoughtfully and intentionally, and certainly, it's enjoyable music to experience.

Thanks,
Tucker
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4.0 out of 5 stars Kozelek Gets Mellow(er), January 13, 2011
This review is from: Admiral Fell Promises (Audio CD)
Okay, I'll admit it: it was a subpar 2005 film called Shopgirl that first hipped my to Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon. I'd heard a few songs and maybe one full album from Kozelek's first band, Red House Painters, but never made a purchase. When SKM's "Carry Me Ohio" played in Shopgirl, I melted. I melted to a cheesy love scene between a 60-year-old Steve Martin and Angela Chase from "My So-Called Life." True story; the music was that moving. Kozelek (who also appears as the Stillwater bassist in Almost Famous) plays a handsome musician in Shopgirl, performing his song "Lily and Parrots" in the film. I was sold on the guy that night ... then went out drinking and forgot about Sun Kil Moon until their debut, Ghosts of the Great Highway, was reissued in early 2007. A classic record that melts me to this day.

So, Shopgirl in mind, I'd like to attempt to use one word to define Sun Kil Moon: melt. And soul. And maybe independent, too. And by independent, I mean that Kozelek does what Kozelek wants - these days, at least. In the past few years, since Ghosts has become a steadily selling classic and the Red House back catalog has found new ears, Kozelek has found ways to become as independent as any major indie artist on the market. He records and releases his records on his own, whenever he wants, however frequently he wants. He has no one telling him to be more accessible or to re-record songs or go on endless tours.

And so we have Admiral Fell Promises, the third proper SKM studio album of originals (in addition to his deep Red House catalog, Kozelek has also issued a huge number of live albums, cover albums and EPs). Ghosts and April, Sun Kil Moon's 2008 record, while hardly pop records, sound downright accessible when compared to Admiral. Where Kozelek used to create lush, organic compositions that appeal to fans of anything from Jackson Browne and Elliott Smith to Neil Young and American Music Club, he's here making sparse, low-key recordings that take some getting to know. Nylon string guitar. Voice. Microphone. That's it. That's Admiral Fell Promises. The record makes Bonnie "Prince" Billy's great (and notoriously sparse) Master and Everyone sound like Pet Sounds, that's how bare the elements are.

This very personal and very subtle sounding record will certainly click for longtime enthusiasts of Kozelek, but don't expect it to swell the man's fan base. Don't even expect most Ghosts and April fans to love it immediately. They might like it, but, let's face it, this is a record Kozelek wanted to put out for himself, not for his fans. The songs, once you get to know them, are pretty great. They're incredibly well written and played, and seem to set out to be background music for lovers, as opposed to Kozelek's usual soundtracks for Youths-In-Epic-Love. So, yeah, I suppose it'd be safe to call Admiral a solid score for the nesting period of a relationship. Put on record, do chores, drink wine, cuddle, fall deeper in love. Or something like that.

Mainly, I'm telling you that this is music for very specific moments - more so for your long, slow bike ride than a night drinking with friends. This is slow, delicate, soulful music, similar to, say, Nick Drake's records, but even less accessible. This is the record you make when you can make a record for yourself. The vibe is wounded and nostalgic, a man dealing with his lingering memories while he plucks out long, incredibly constructed and sweet backdrops. He's alone in a room here; we're lucky that a microphone was turned on. Kozelek's voice, so sweet and vulnerable, just might convince you to fall even deeper in love with the man. His ability to do exactly what he wants on Admiral, and melt so well, further cements his unique legacy. Not the most exciting or even listenable Sun Kil Moon release, but yes, the most impressive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Geary In The Fog, December 4, 2010
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This review is from: Admiral Fell Promises (Audio CD)
When I lived in SanFran, I got on the Geary bus one night in December so that I could go to Land's End and watch the fog roll in and listen to the waves crashing in the darkness. The bus rolled down Geary through that lovely misty rain, the dark windows of all the little closed up stores with their electric signs shining and soft focus glowing in the mist. Somewhere out in the avenues, I looked out through the rain streaked window and saw a young woman standing in a bus shelter. She wore a long brown jacket and had long brown hair. She was leaning against the plexiglass wall near the pay phone. Her head was bowed, one arm folded across her chest, and her right hand covering here eyes with her fingers resting on her forehead, like she was trying to contain an immense sadness. She was there long enough to catch my eye and then she disapeared as the bus rolled on into the fog and darkness. It was the kind of beauty that was so sharp and intense that it hurt.
That feeling permeates Admiral Fell Promises. I don't believe that I've ever heard anything-with the possible exception of Tony Bennett's I Left My Heart In San Franicisco-that captures the mystery of the city so well. I'm sending a copy of it to a friend who still lives there and loves the city. I suspect he'll fall in love with Admiral Fell Promises too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is such a beautiful, haunting and lovely cd, January 1, 2015
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This review is from: Admiral Fell Promises (Audio CD)
This is such a beautiful, haunting and lovely cd....what I feel may be a distillation of all that is lovely and tender in Mark Kozelek's strange heart. I love each song...a spell of peace is cast upon me when I listen to it...his soft guitar melodies, sometimes flamenco is style, melt around his gorgeous voice as the sun through the trees. I came upon Admiral Fell Promises in a dark time and the music was and is like a tonic. Once, I found an old glass bottle at an antique store...one of the "snake oil" tonic bottles that read "Kills Pain": This is how I feel about Admiral Fell Promises.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Winter, November 19, 2010
By 
This review is from: Admiral Fell Promises (Audio CD)
I went into this album with rather low expectations, and I sure was surprised how much I loved it. Repeated listening is not required, it grabs you with subtle intensity from the beginning and won't let go. The track sequencing is flawless here, something of a lost art these days. This is meant to be listend to in it's entirety.

I love the comment placed by an earlier review about this being monochromatic in feel and sound, it's perfect! This album is will be played quite extensively throughout the winter months here in Minnesota. Great job Mark!
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Admiral Fell Promises
Admiral Fell Promises by Sun Kil Moon (Audio CD - 2010)
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