Friday, August 29, 2008

Tiny Cities Made of Ashes.

A recent perusal through a couple of Sun Kil Moon albums — I always meant to get Ghosts of the Great Highway when it was released and I should have — has afforded me plenty to listen to and ample food for thought. What struck me the most was Mark Kozelek’s (the man behind Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters) cover of Modest Mouse’s “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes,” from the Sun Kil Moon album of Modest Mouse covers, Tiny Cities. The original from Modest Mouse’s 2000 album, The Moon & Antartica, is a punchy, caustic indie rocker with funk and post-punk overtones. The vocals sound sarcastic as do the lyrics, which seem to detail the pressures of modern life, consumerism, bad food and pollution.

In the hands of Kolzelek the song becomes a world-weary elegy to the way the planet is being wasted and to those lost souls who find themselves in the middle of the ruins. Gone are the pneumatic bassline and the distorted vocal segments of the original and in their place Kozelek places a folk tinged lament, with the lyrics sung in beautifully delivered diction. This is a song for when the machines have failed, the electronic instruments no longer work and we’re left in the dust with strings and skins and things. This is the pastoral music of the future when the pastures have all been covered and wasted. This cover version is timeless, melancholy and inspiring, and the original makes you want to dance and recycle!


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