Songs of the Week: The Howls of Mark Kozelek and Other Angry Men

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Sun Kil Moon, “Cry Me a River Williamsburg Sleeve Tattoo Blues”

The new Sun Kil Moon LP is called Universal Themes, but it’s really only universal for embittered white men in their forties who are on the cusp of male menopause. I say that as a fan who is utterly confounded by Mark Kozelek’s latest acts of boorishness. This behavior sadly aligns with his latest batch of songs. After triumphing in 2014 with Benji, the closest that he’s come to mainstream-ish acceptance, Kozelek has followed up his Harvest with his dark, discursive, and willfully perverse Time Fades Awaystyle move. The shambling, disaffected arrangements; the meandering (even for Kozelek) narratives; the general sourness — Universal Themes screams, “GTFO!” Is something horrible happening in Kozelek’s personal life, or is he just a jerk? When you listen to “Cry Me a River Williamsburg Sleeve Tattoo Blues,” his thinly veiled rant against a Stereogum writer, the distinction is sort of irrelevant.

White Reaper, “I Don’t Think She Cares”

My go-to surf-punk beach jam of the year, from a band that has plenty more to burn.

Tom Petty, “Somewhere Under Heaven”

This beautiful outtake from 1994’s Wildflowers plays over the closing credits of Entourage, like a shot of Pappy Van Winkle after two hours of Schlitz.

Whitey Morgan & the 78’s, “Ain’t Gonna Take It Anymore”

A strong year for outsider country records got even better last month with the release of Sonic Ranch, the latest from this kickass Michigan honky-tonk outfit. Come for the Waylon Jennings hero worship; stay for the ace musicianship and morning-after stories.

Sam Outlaw, “Love Her for a While”

Country music monikers don’t get more blatant than Sam Outlaw, but this L.A.-based singer-songwriter isn’t cut from the Whitey Morgan cloth. His pleasing new LP, Angeleno, is more reminiscent of ’70s Sunset Strip country rock, around the time that Gram Parsons gave way to J.D. Souther.

Black Tower, “Death March”

Your mid-column heavy metal smoke break, courtesy of Black Tower’s new album, The Secret Fire.

The Darkness, “Open Fire”

I’m cursed to care about and subsequently purchase every Darkness album until I am the only person on earth doing it. Speaking of which: This song is pretty good! It’s like the missing link between the Cult’s Love and Electric LPs in the mid-’80s. What was that? 2004 called and it wants its buzz band back? Fine, be that way.

Royal Headache, “High”

Every current band from Australia is great, including this one. Recommended if you like shouty pub rock that compels you to hug strangers.

Teenage Time Killers, “Hung Out to Dry”

Recommended if you’d rather punch strangers in the face.

Nap Eyes, “Dark Creedence”

“Dark Creedence” would be my favorite kind of music if it were a genre. I’m into chooglin’, but mostly in an evil way. (This song is good, by the way.)

Filed Under: Music, Songs of the Week, mark kozelek, Tom Petty, Black Tower, The Darkness, Sam Outlaw, White Reaper, Royal Headache

Steven Hyden is a staff writer for Grantland. His first book, Your Favorite Band is Killing Me, will be released in May.

Archive @ Steven_Hyden