Sun Kil Moon: Benji (Caldo Verde) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Sun Kil Moon


Caldo Verde

Feb 03, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Mark Kozelek’s career has been filled with twists and turns. As a member (and primary songwriter) of Red House Painters, his work fit semi-comfortably under a broad “alt-country” umbrella, but even then, there were hints that Kozelek’s interests were a little different than the average songwriter of the early ‘90s. There was the Red House Painters’ EP centered around a KISS cover, the solo release containing primarily AC/DC covers, and then suddenly a new band with a debut about a bunch of boxers (Sun Kil Moon‘s Ghosts of the Great Highway).

Since then, Kozelek has primarily recorded as Sun Kil Moon (aside from some solo live albums), which has slowly evolved into a mostly acoustic, deeply introspective project highlighting Kozelek’s lilting guitar work and prose-indebted lyrics. Benji, the newest album from Sun Kil Moon, distills these qualities into their most specific form yet, and offer some hints of where Kozelek might go next.

Opener “Carissa” beautifully explores Kozelek’s return home for a relative’s funeral, with hyper-specific lyrics that manage to cut deep. “I’m flyin’ out there tomorrow, because I need to give and get some hugs,” he sings, and who of us hasn’t gone home hoping for the very same thing? “Micheline” stands as one of the prettiest songs Kozelek has ever penned, a deeply affecting song filled with poignant imagery. The final track, “Ben’s My Friend,” offers an intriguing glimpse at what could be Kozelek’s future interestwhat begins as a straightforward rock song takes a soft rock turn, complete with a saxophone solo and classical guitar breakdown. And it’s very, very good.

Other songs don’t fare as well with all the confessionalism. The plodding “Dogs” has some pretty cringe-worthy sexual lyrics (“when I touched her down there she was blossoming and soft”). Similarly, “Prayer for Newton,” despite its admirable efforts, manages to be so heavy-handed its message is lost. And “I Love My Dad” is a nice sentiment, but probably should have been just sent to Kozelek’s dad as a Father’s Day gift.

Overall, your enjoyment of this album will depend on your patience and appreciation for Kozelek’s idiosyncrasies. Sometimes he pulls it off wonderfully, and other times listeners might wish he’d left a little more to the imagination. (

Author rating: 5.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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February 3rd 2014

I found this page by searching for a stream of “I Love My Dad” to share, it is so wonderful. The whole album, so beautiful. That is all I have to say to this review.

February 4th 2014

This is one of the most beautifully messy and vulnerable albums I have ever heard. Happy to see a longtime under the radar (wink) artist get a heaping a praise.

February 8th 2014

Great review. Album isn’t that good. This coming fro a fan since the much-superior Red House Painters days.

March 14th 2014

This review is why I don’t rate certain books on goodreads: there are just things you don’t assign a number rating to.