Sun Kil Moon
Ghosts of the Great Highway

Very little of this album resembles anything done previously by Mark Kozelek and his former band, the Red House Painters. This time around, with Sun Kil Moon, Kozelek comes off as if trying to reinvent himself, trying to make us believe something was the matter with him the first time around, and now a change is in the cards. But I don’t buy it.

The first few songs on Ghosts of the Great Highway—like “Carry Me Ohio” and “The Last Tide”—are exaggerated and almost incoherent. Recently, I dug up the Red House Painters’ Songs for a Blue Guitar and I was overwhelmed with the isolated and frenzied, yet careful, majesty of Kozelek’s lyrics and musical antidote to the conflicted natures that poison the heart. That album made you feel like autumn, when the leaves fall from the trees and you seem to fall with them and nothing can hold you up because you’re on a mission to lay on the cold, damp ground until the sun shines on your face again.

But while Ghosts of the Great Highway has its inconsistencies, it also has its moments, like the 14-minute track “Duk Koo Kim” and the rambling instrumental guitar trickery of “Si, Paloma.” It’s right at the end, when Kozelek the magician is at his best, that the album finally comes alive. (Diego Bejarano)

A Crow Left of the Murder

It’s been said that the surge in popularity enjoyed by the alternative rock band Incubus over the last few years is due to the Adonian good looks and idyllic vocals of lead singer/songwriter Brandon Boyd. But however much of this assumption is true, it neglects to consider the concerted musical effort of the band’s latest album, A Crow Left of the Murder.

“Megalomaniac,” the kick-off track, opens with an Atari-gone-berserk intro that clears the air and gives way to Boyd’s relentless admonitions against the hypocritical and self-adulating moral preachers of the day: “Hey, Megalomaniac! You’re no Jesus! You’re no fucking Elvis! Wash your hands clean of yourself, baby, and step down! Step down! Step down!”

“Megalomaniac” sets the tone for the barrage of socially demanding songs and instrumentals that follow, like the Orwellian ode “Talk Shows on Mute.” To the group’s benefit, producer Brendan O’Brien has previously worked with the likes of Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine. Overall, A Crow Left of the Murder has what it takes to propel the band’s arc of popularity even further. The album could become Incubus’ initiation, so to speak, into the rock preeminence once enjoyed by bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. (Diego Bejarano)

All Night Radio
Stereo Spirit Frequency
Sub Pop

Anyone who takes the time to listen to the latest release from the two-member All Night Radio is in for a sweet little treat. Talk about ear candy. It’s hard to think of a more deliciously soulful, Beach Boy-drenched psychedelic album, poised to make the pupils dilate and the mouth run dry. It’s musique concrète to the max. Let’s be honest here: This is the kind of album suited for a dark room, flashy lights, black-lit posters, lava lamps and a fatty all rolled up waiting to happen. I can just see it. Well, forget the lava lamps.

If the album cover isn’t enough to start you tripping, then forgodsakes insert the disc into the CD player and wait as “Daylight Til Dawn,” with its charmingly groovy, illusory ’60s soundscape and involuntary head-bopping effect—transports you to some other crazy-ass world. It seems there’s a bit of everything in this album, from joyous bells to waves crashing in the background to what sound like floating voices and ghostly echoes coming from some mechanical ethereal consciousness. The back of the CD cover has the band describing their music as “pretty songs of bioluminescent sea creatures.” Need I say more? If someone ever makes a movie about bioluminescent sea creatures and palpitating horny robots, this would be its soundtrack. (Diego Bejarano)

Story Hills

A lot of folk singers will tell you their music has a sense of humor, but sometimes that just means that they have a satirical song or two in their repertoire along the lines of Tom Lehrer, capable of wringing a few gallows chuckles out of the most humorless audience. Then again, there are folk musicians, even in this town, who don’t have a single humorous song in their songbook.

Folk music isn’t exactly famous for its adherents’ eagerness to send themselves up, either. That’s why it’s really funny to see a record cover like the one on Storyhill’s Dovetail album, which shows the duo looking very Simon and Garfunkel in period winter clothing on an LP fished from a 10-cent bin at a garage sale, cheesy ’70s font and everything. What’s funnier is that the music isn’t funny or pandering to its target audience’s politically correct humor sensibilities in the slightest. Dovetail is sweet, mellow easy-listening folk-pop with beautiful harmonies, arranged for a full band. Very pleasant stuff, ’nuff said. “Dan Fogelberg seriously interests us,” the cover seems to say, “but at least we can laugh about it.” (Andy Smetanka)

Storyhill performs Thursday, March 4, at the Roxy Theater. 8 PM. Tickets cost $10 in advance, $12 day of show.

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