Not that “Red House,” though I will understand if you click on that, listen, and decide you don’t need to listen to anything else for the rest of the night. I know I couldn’t give you anything better. I mean, damn. (This, by the way, is why I hate people from the 60s: how come y’all got to be around to see that, and I didn’t? It’s not fair!)
No, I mean this Red House… Painters:
If you’re not familiar with RHP, that’s because you didn’t spend the 90s pining over lost lovers while listening to music designed to cause dysthymia:
Can’t go with my heart when I
Can’t feel what’s in it I;
Thought you’d come over
But for some reason you didn’t.
Glass on the pavement under my shoe
Without you is all my life amounts to.
Not exactly the best lyrics ever written, but man, it feels good (because it feels bad) when you’ve just gone through a breakup, or someone you so desperately want to love the way no one else could ever love them (why can’t they just see that? why?!) doesn’t really even know you exist, much less how wonderful you are.This is why one of the labels applied to their music was “sadcore.”
RHP were the creation of Mark Kozelek and some guys he played with. In fact, given that when they had record company difficulties in the late 90s he tried to release some of the stuff they’d recorded under the guise of RHP as a Mark Kozelek solo project, I think it’s safe to say that RHP was Mark Kozelek. Their oeuvre is comprised entirely of depression, gritty electric guitar solos that last for days, Kozelek’s often filtered and semi-haunting voice, and covers of songs that Kozelek really liked from the 60s and 70s (after RHP, he recorded a solo album made up entirely of sad versions of Bon Scott AC/DC songs). Think Neil Young on Seconal. Or think the shoegaze that Glyph spent last month celebrating, only played by guys who forgot to get their Prozac prescriptions filled. And I have to say, I find it strangely compelling.
Like I said, they covered a lot of 60s and 70s artists. At the top of the post, they’re covering The Cars. Here they are covering Yes:
And Paul McCartney with Wings:
Of course they did record some original songs. This may be my favorite of their own creations:
A few years after RHP broke up (due largely to the aforementioned record company problems), Kozelek got the band back together and they renamed themselves Sun Kil Moon. Still pretty sad. Slightly less Neil Young.
Well, now I’m going to spend the weekend lamenting lost loves from my teens and twenties. I hope these songs represent the only sadness in your weekend, though.
Oh, I almost forgot, the most Pitchforky Pitchfork review ever is Ryan Kearney on RHP’s last album as RHP, Old Ramon. In case reading Pitchfork reviews is against your religion, I’m going to quote the first three paragraphs in full. After you read them, you’ll understand why:
I hadn’t been home more than a minute when a bird flew into the bay window of my kitchen and fell to the wooden deck, where it lay crippled on the brown-stained boards in the midday sun. Since these moments seem to wait for me, holding fast until I’m around to witness them, I didn’t panic. Instead, I did what I always do: assess the situation and appraise the severity of damage. Unable to get a decent angle on the bird from the window, I stepped out onto the deck in bare feet and abruptly leapt back inside, feeling as though I’d just stepped on hot coals.
Its head was all wrong, turned around at an unnatural angle, and its legs were buckled beneath its stout, rust-colored breast. For some reason, I thought of hockey– specifically of when, as occasionally happens, a defenseman lines up an unsuspecting player skating across mid-ice with his head down. These situations often end with a bloody face to the burning-cold ice, the rest of the body limp. Every movement is slow and brief and seemingly involuntary. This bird moved its neck in much the same way. But you pity the bird over the hockey player because of its lack of understanding. It never knew it was in danger.
The bird–a sparrow, thrush, warbler?– offered little resistance as I scooped it up. Its legs kicked, a wing flapped, but that was all. By the time I laid it down beneath a nearby tree, it had righted its head, although it showed few signs of being able to walk, let alone fly. And still, despite all this, I would soon forget about the bird, remembering it only after it disappeared. But as it lay there among the fresh mulch and old tree roots, I couldn’t help but have a paradoxical American Beauty moment, transfixed by the sadness and beauty of this injured animal.
I have a similar experience every time I listen to the Red House Painters,…
Try to guess what score he gave the album.