Before Ben Gibbard set plaintive, lovesick lyrics - the kind that read like bad poetry on paper, but fit into fine balladry in song - to simple melodies, there was Mark Kozelek.
Currently recording under the moniker Sun Kil Moon and formerly seated upper-left foreground in the famous "Tiny Dancer" scene from Almost Famous (he's the one wearing the shades...), Kozelek was previously an unsung hero for many college boys and girls still fighting back the final stages of acne and aching for a first date.
Hidden on the second side of the Red House Painters 1995 album Ocean Beach, "Brockwell Park" is a bit more adult. It's perhaps the first time a socially-late bloomer gets lucky in love, and the first time he can feel the break-up sting moving in.
"If the days weren't so precious/and no worlds, where shorted wires had kept us/things would be better than this/there's an angel by the ocean i miss"The song begins with a pair of acoustic guitars warming up like an orchestra, or, the quartet in R.E.M.'s "Nightswimming". The dissonant plucking eases into harmony then latches onto the reverb-y vocals as they come in. This comparison may sound silly, but Kozelek's playing in "Brockwell Park" reminds me of Erik Satie in the way he fashions sophisticated melodies out of seemingly basic elements.
I intended to post a video clip or MP3 of Red House Painters performing "Brockwell Park"... but no luck finding one. However, I did find this clip of a father performing it for his daughter and son-in-law at their wedding reception (from the sound of the accents in the clip, they may actually live near Brockwell Park):