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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really unique
I like Mark Kozelek aka. Sun Kil Moon but he puts out so much new music that I do miss a release from time to time. I read a few really positive reviews of "Benji" and decided to purchase. That was about 16 hours ago and I've since listened to the album 3 times in its entirety.

I can't say I've ever heard anything quite like it. The lyrics are...
Published 11 months ago by M. Rybacki

versus
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Whoa
I have it all, I'm a huge fan, and I have to agree with those who've expressed some hesitation, here. I really liked much of "Among the Leaves," how loose and conversational and informal it was, but often, on "Benji," this is taken to an extreme where it seems as if Kozelek is just strumming and talking about the mundane things that have gone on in his...
Published 10 months ago by Listener in Portland


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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really unique, February 12, 2014
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This review is from: Benji (MP3 Music)
I like Mark Kozelek aka. Sun Kil Moon but he puts out so much new music that I do miss a release from time to time. I read a few really positive reviews of "Benji" and decided to purchase. That was about 16 hours ago and I've since listened to the album 3 times in its entirety.

I can't say I've ever heard anything quite like it. The lyrics are hyper-specific and uber-personal. At first, I didn't like it. After three songs (including 2 that referenced deaths by aerosol can explosion) I was starting to feel fatigued, but somewhere in the middle of the album I started to "get it" and by the end I nearly spiked my iPad on the ground in celebration.

An absolutely incredible album. Very unique. The album doesn't exactly radiate positivity and I wouldn't call it upbeat by any stretch of the imagination, but it is strangely cathartic. I haven't listened to it in like an hour so I better go play it again.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's about the journey, February 25, 2014
By 
M. Mihalek "2headedmullet" (Polk City, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Benji (Audio CD)
For starters, I guess it would be appropriate to compare Mark Kozelek’s CD Benji with his previous work. On one hand, it possesses the raw, heart-on-your-sleeve style of Red House Painters, yet it’s all acoustic. On the other, you’ll find the beautiful, hypnotic melodies from previous Sun Kil Moon releases; although it’s not something you’re likely to queue up in the background while doing something else. It’s a bit of both, and neither, and perhaps could be best described as an example of a maturing artist who’s discovered that often less is more.
As usual, Kozelek does yeoman’s work here as he graces us with his superb acoustic guitar work and delicate production values. Lyrically, the songs are brutally honest, autobiographical, and introspective; almost confessional in nature. While some will make you smile and some will make you weep, all are perfectly embellished melodically. Listening to them is like leafing through someone’s personal diary.
Perhaps the best way to sum this release up is to say it’s much like going on a road trip with an old friend. You catch up, you reminisce, and, after running through a gamut of emotions, you find yourself renewed; comforted by the fact that you’re not on this trip alone.
I’m fond of the concept that music has the power to go straight to the heart. I’ve also discovered that writing can be cathartic. This CD reminds me that listening can be as well. As such, I’m anxiously looking forward to our next trip together.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sun Kil Moon - Bittersweet Odes to Heartache, February 11, 2014
This review is from: Benji (Audio CD)
The word "prolific" does not come anywhere close to doing justice to the musical output of Mark Kozelek. The great man put out two fabulous collaborative albums in 2013. Firstly the sublime electronica of "Perils from the Sea" with Jimmy LaValle from Album Leaf and the more rocking album with Desertshore including its wry musical attacks on Wilco's Nels Cline. Quite what the difference is nowadays between a Kozelek solo album and a Sun Kil Moon release is contestable, But who cares? Kozelek makes the music that touches your soul, makes you deeply reflect on your nearest and dearest, tells you that the human journey totters on disappointment and near collapse but that in the end its contact with family, friends, colleagues and comrades that makes it a road worth travelling.

"Benji" is by a country mile Kozelek's most personal album. Like a male version of Joni Mitchell he has no terrors in laying bare his deepest emotions and fears. In particular it is an album infused with death or at least the fear of it. Any one whose parents provide the anchor of stability in life will be drawn to two great Kozelek songs present "I can't live without my mothers love" and "I love my Dad". The first song is a touching paean to his dear mum who he admits "She is the closest friend I have in my life" but he fears that when she departs the earth that `I won't have the courage to sort through her things; I cannot bear all the pain it will bring'". How wonderful to see a male songwriter confront his feelings of love for his dearest relative. "I love my dad" is more of a traditional rock n roll song but is filled with similar sentiments around what was clearly a more difficult relationship (and another Nels Cline dig). Travel through others parts of the album and there is the 10 minute plus ode to Led Zeppelin "I watched the film Song Remains the Same" one of the greatest fan letters ever set to music where he admits that "what spoke to him most was Rain Song and Bron y Aur". Yet like all Kozelek songs it spirals into other areas weaving imagery about lost friends not least Chris Waller who died in a motorcycle accident at the age of 13. There are classic Kozelek songs here to spare with his note to Death Cab for Cutie main man Ben Gibbard "Ben is my friend' being an affectionate jazzy affair. Opener "Carissa" echoes the reflective Spanish guitar mood of "Admiral Fell Promises", while the tragic victims of the Sandy Hook shooting are the focus of the melancholy of the sad "Pray for Newtown". One song "Dogs" alludes to Kozelek's fumbling teenage love life but most poignant of all is the song about his grandmother "Micheline" and the effects of her death.

None of this sounds like a barrel of laughs and accepting Kozelek's many idiosyncrasies' may be only way to enjoy this record. If you can you will fnd this brilliant confessional music with the 47 year old Kozelek unafraid to stray into territory that usually is the bare bones preserve of intimate family or personal history. The presence of Will Oldham on backing vocals adds to this mood. Kozelek has been hinting at this approach in previous albums but no Sun Kil Moon album gets any where as near as "Benji" to such deeply intimate backdrops in describing the impact of the randomness of fate on our daily beings. This is a vulnerable, heart wrenching, mature and wise album from one of the greatest American songwriters breathing oxygen.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, Intense Music, February 18, 2014
This review is from: Benji (Audio CD)
This is an album about the beauty and terror of looking at one's life in middle age.Death occurs with more frequently, sometimes anticipated, sometimes a surprise. Trying to make sense of a life filled with people and memories that will be taken from us sooner then we think. There are no soaring metaphors, but instead narrative reflections that are immediate, usually filled with melancholy, but occasionally humor, wonder and gratitude. The first essential album of 2014.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable, and remarkably thoughtful, meditation on life and death and family and much else., July 3, 2014
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This review is from: Benji (Audio CD)
Haunting, deeply thoughtful and heartfelt cycle of songs that really are another level up for the man behind Sun Kil Moon. His songs talk about family and friends (and strangers) who've died, about relationships, and creating, and much, much else, all tied together in unexpected, sidelong mostly acoustic songs that are DEEPLY affecting, particularly for anyone with more than a few years of life experience. Truly a remarkable piece of work. I had enjoyed some of his previous work a lot, but hadn't immediately bought this. Then I read a remarkable essay about the album from the editor in chief of Pitchfork Review, who had much the same emotional response, for many of the same reasons, that I did to this album by a Midwestern creative mind who moved to the West Coast to make a life, but still has deep roots in the place he left behind. I can't recommend this album highly enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotizing, December 26, 2014
By 
Smoking Ace (Nashville,TN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Benji (Audio CD)
I don't think I've ever heard anyone write a song quite like Mark Kozelek. His lyrics on first listen seem like absolute laziness, but on further attention feel remarkably effective in their emotional power. There are a lot of lyrics on here that many will find excessive or pointless, with Koselek stream-of-consciously sing-talking about blue-crab cakes, his friend's dad being a deer hunter, and of course "sports bar s--t". But others, like me, will fall in love them instantly, finding them rich with insight and detail ("playing scrabble at the chimes of the grandfather clock" "The snoring sun rolled out of bed"). The first track "Carissa"--a tribute to Kozelek's dead second cousin that's nothing short of beautiful in how earnest it feels-- might be one of the most moving songs I've heard in years. I've listened to this song at least a dozen times, and I still get the greatest chills from it.

Other stand-outs here include "Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes," "Dogs", "Pray for Newtown", "I can't live without my Mother's love" and "Jim Wise" But really this isn't an album of pick and choosing. For one there's not a bad song here, nor a mediocre one (though some like "Micheline" might underwhelm a little bit). And second: Benji feels not so much like an album, but like a fleeting landscape, or a dream-- full of sadness and grief but also beauty and tenderness. Benji's ultimately a ballad to the fragility of life and the coming to terms with death. And This I know hardly sounds like light listening, and yes alot of the subject matter here is dreary, but rarily is it anything short of moving. I know that it moved me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Groundbreaking Album of Incredible Emotional Impact, April 2, 2014
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This review is from: Benji (Audio CD)
Sun Kil Moon has taken a big and somewhat unpredictable step forward with this release. Some fans may have been alienated by this. But as a newer fan, I'm blown away by this album's incredible song craft, intimacy, emotional depth and fresh approach. When I go back and listen to his older albums, and listen objectively, I can't help but believe that this is his greatest effort to date. Unlike his other releases, this is a personal journey that goes beyond the genre. I can't stop listening and pondering the depth of his message. The elegant, minimalistic arrangements are musically sophisticated and support the lyrics sublimely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Start Here for Mark, September 16, 2014
This review is from: Benji (Audio CD)
The 9.2 Pitchfork Review will attract the hipsters, but this record is not for everyone.
Though its stream of consciousness confessional lyricism is pure Mark, the sparse, simple instrumentation and coarse vocal delivery are new qualities that do not showcase the full spectrum of Kozelek's talent.
A great record no doubt. But I would start with "April" by Sun Kil Moon if you are interested.
Then I would grab Old Ramon, Ghosts of the Great Highway, and Rock N Roll Singer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe my favorite album this year?, August 23, 2014
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This review is from: Benji (MP3 Music)
Went from hearing my first Sun Kil Moon song on XMU about a week ago to listening to this album once or twice a day right now. It's beautiful. Makes me want to explore more of their music, but also kinda scares me that I know none of their albums are likely to be better than this (or at least impact me in the same way).

Check out Ben's My Friend. If you like that, you'll like the rest of the album, although that's definitely the lightest song on Benji.

As of late August, edging out Have You Ever Done Something Evil for my favorite album this year.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Benji, February 21, 2014
This review is from: Benji (MP3 Music)
Dreamlike memories and well written lyrics. Sun Kil Moon's "Benji" follows the good formula of what folk rock could be. The track "I Watched the Film the Song Remains the Same" reminds me of Van Morisson when he's throwing all the lyrics without a clear chorus. The album is very personal and wounded. I applaud Kozelek for having the balls to release an album that sounds like Nick Drake in a generation full of festering pop music.
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Benji
Benji by Sun Kil Moon (Audio CD - 2014)
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