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Tiny Cities


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Audio CD, November 1, 2005
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Product Description

Mark Kozelek has released six studio albums as frontman for Red House Painters along with three solo records; however, it is with Mark's new band Sun Kil Moon that he has received some of his greatest commercial and critical success. With Sun Kil Moon, Pitchfork says, Mark is ''putting to use a variety of wondrous subtle sonic touches that mark unbelievable artistic growth, unraveling unexplored harmonic territory while staying faithful to his trademark brand of languid folk-rock introspection.'' Two years ago, Mark saw Modest Mouse and sensed something original and explosive. The unorthodox songwriting of singer Isaac Brock intrigued him with its fractured, intuitive lyric style and cathartic, rapid-fire vocal delivery. Sun Kil Moon added songs like 'Dramamine' to their set list and began work on what would become Tiny Cities, a full-length album of Modest Mouse covers released on Mark's label Caldo Verde. As with his past covers of AC/DC, KISS, Simon and Garfunkel and John Denver, Mark's aim was to bring attention to the words and sentiments - to reinterpret freely but to respect the spirit. On Tiny Cities, Mark slows down Issac Brock's words to let them breathe without sacrificing their idiosyncratic power. The results bear the singular, hypnotic style that could only come from Mark Kozelek. Digipak.

Amazon.com

Isaac Brock--the singer, guitarist and leader behind the enormously popular alt-pop act Modest Mouse--would be few people's first choice for a covers album. But that is part of the genius behind this surprisingly excellent album. Sun Kil Moon leader Mark Kozelek's own recorded cover choices in the past--Kiss, Simon and Garfunkel, AC/DC, and most successfully John Denver--hew far closer to the traditional indie approach to covers: a semi-ironic, studied transformation of a tune into something it wasn't before. With Sun Kil Moon's breezy take on Brock's compositions, there is no irony, just a true love for the weird pop genius that Modest Mouse has in spades. Songs are slowed down a lot and stretched out, and frequently you don't recognize the tune until the chorus kicks in, but it totally works even if you've never heard the originals. Labors of love are rarely as enjoyable for all involved. Huzzah. --Mike McGonigal

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Exit Does Not Exist 1:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes 3:13$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Neverending Math Equation 2:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Space Travel Is Boring 3:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Dramamine 2:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Jesus Christ Was An Only Child 1:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Four Fingered Fisherman 2:41$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Grey Ice Water 2:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Convenient Parking 1:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Trucker's Atlas 2:49$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Ocean Breathes Salty 4:36$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 1, 2005)
  • Original Release Date: 2005
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Caldo Verde
  • ASIN: B000BI0WQ8
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,019 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By somethingexcellent VINE VOICE on December 4, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I've been a long-time fan of Mark Kozelek in just about every single musical project that he's undertaken. His early music in Red House Painters helped me through some rather rough periods of my life and his work since then has all been at the very least quite good. If nothing else, the self-titled (rollercoaster) release made me feel I wasn't alone in my depression, while Songs For A Blue Guitar still ranks as one of my top 10 favorite releases ever. When I heard that Kozelek was going to be doing an entire album of Modest Mouse covers, I was hopeful, but somewhat cautious.

It's true that he's done cover albums before and they've turned out fine. What's Next To The Moon seemed to wring emotions out of the music of AC/DC that I never thought possible, and over the years he's done amazing covers of both Simon And Garfunkel's "I Am A Rock" and even a weird version of the Star Spangled Banner. Unfortunately, Tiny Cities seems to be one of the first major stumbles for Kozelek, and there are several reasons for it.

The first is that instead of adding some sort of urgency or pulling out some unique quality from the songs themselves, most of his reworkings of Modest Mouse tracks completely sterilize the originals into rather mush-mouthed coffee-house covers. Kozelek picks songs from every single album from the group, and while I applaud his choices, his actual performances are pretty narrow in scope (usually limited to repeated guitar phrases and some sort of slight melody and timing change with the vocals). In fact, other than a couple tracks, it doesn't even sound like a Sun Kil Moon release, as only a few tracks feature much more than acoustic guitar and vocals.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Silberman on November 1, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Mark Kozelek performs another act of musical alchemy with "Tiny Cities," which reimagines the pop tunes of Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock as deeply inward, poignant evocations of love and grief, along with a kind of soulful endurance. This isn't the first time Kozelek has found a gold thread worth saving and woven a whole coat out of it -- his solo album "What's Next to the Moon" performed a similar act of poetic transubstantiation on the songs of AC/DC. Frankly, after listening to Kozelek's haunted version of the title track, hearing Modest Mouse's rendition is nearly painful. (Sorry, MM fans.)

Kozelek deserves credit for hearing the authentic poetry in Brock's associative lyrics, but the musical atmosphere on this record is wholly his own. Using a spare palette of acoustic and electric guitars with occasional -- and exquisitely tasteful -- strings (a la Beck's "Sea Change," which comes close to the mood of this album), Kozelek creates a unified statement that stands with his very best work, including the previous Sun Kil Moon album "Ghosts of the Great Highway," his solo project "Rock and Roll Singer," and great Red House Painters albums like "Ocean Beach" and "Songs for a Blue Guitar." This album also hangs together better than "Ghosts," which was so bursting with new ideas that tracks like "Duk Koo Kim" and "Gentle Moon" almost seemed to belong on different albums. "Tiny Cities," on the other hand, is sequenced so effectively that from the first moments of "Exit Does Not Exist" -- with its glittering harmonics -- the reader is drawn on a journey to an underworld in which every song seems to deepen the mood and intensity of the last.

There's world-weariness and melancholy in Kozelek's voice, but sadness this distilled and many-layered attains a kind of ecstasy of its own.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dustbowl Circus on October 9, 2006
Format: Audio CD
... But honestly, I think this album is brilliant.

I know nothing of Sun Kil Moon/Red House Painters/insert other name-dropping incident here], but I AM familiar with being a *huge* Modest Mouse fan.

That being said, I also have eclectic (admittedly bizarrely so) taste, and when this version of "Neverending Math Equation" was put on a mix CD for me, I didn't even realize what it was (I didn't have the track listing handy). I just thought, "Wow, this is a nice song... I wonder who is this?" Then it started sounding eerily familiar and as it dawned on me what the song actually was, I couldn't stop giggling. Bought the entire album, and now it pretty much lives on repeat.

If you're a "Modest Mouse Purist," so to speak, you may not like this album... AT ALL. And from what I've read, if you're a die-hard fan of *this* artist, you probably won't like it either. But if you're either a) addicted to cover songs, and/or b) readily open to and fascinated by the idea of reinterpreting different musical styles, then I recommend not only getting this album, but also getting the Modest Mouse originals and enjoy the Dichotomy Circus that ensues...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Scott Hamilton on February 24, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Yes, I am a long-standing Red House Painters/Mark K fan--from the first album (and some early SF appearances) on. And yes, I am particularly fond of Mark's covers. But this album is unreal.

I do not care for Modest Mouse, nor had I heard any of these songs prior to this album. And frankly, I'm glad. Because even though I enjoy Mark's covers for what they are, these songs work for me on an entirely different level, since they were new to me, and they harken back to the early (and best) RHP material. And having recently dug up the MM originals--none of which did much for me--I'm even more amazed by this man's ability to interpret the work of others.

Melancholy as Mark can be, I find much of this album quite uplifting. Now if Mark only got the commercial attention of which he is so deserving, all would be right with the world...
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