Sun Kil Moon's 'Benji' The Year's First Masterpiece

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I have known about Mark Kozelek and his band's Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon for over a decade.

I had heard the name brought up at hip, downtown record stores and written about in taste-making, super-expensive European music rags.

I have probably recommended Red House Painters to other fans of sad-core and slow-core music in the past.

However, I must confess to the readers of Empty Lighthouse. I first listened to the music of Mark Kozelek all the way back in... well, February 2014.

But now I feel like the guy who tries his first piece of fried chicken on his 80th birthday. This is really, really great stuff.

Tormented, dark and unforgivingly honest, Sun Kil Moon's new album 'Benji' is the year's first undisputed masterpiece.

Most of the tracks are built around Mark's dreamy baritone and stark acoustic guitar but the focus of these songs is the lyrical stew of loss and pain.

Death of family members are detailed cinematically, and yet a gallows humor keeps 'Benji' from being anything close to a downer.

In fact, by raking through the turmoil of his past, Mark realized he should take time to take inventory of all the beauty in his life at this very moment. Songs like "I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love" and "I Love My Dad" are so relatable, you may want to call home and talk to your parents.

Mark is such a genius wordsmith he can change the listener's mood with a simple turn of phrase.

Sun Kil Moon's new album Benji is the year's first undisputed masterpiece

Then he really hits it out of the park with the album closer "Ben's My Friend," which take you through five verses that all tell a different Dylan-esque story.

One verse he is depressed, eating blue crab cakes with his girlfriend and looking at the wall of restaurant, which is covered in "sports bar shit." One verse he describes his friendship with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie and how he goes to see Ben play live, which he can't really enjoy because of a million distractions taking away from the experience.

Sure Mark Kozelek probably has a lot of mental issues and little personality ticks, but what great artist doesn't? If you want to step inside the psyche of a brilliant poet, all set to a gorgeous folky backdrop, do yourself a favor and check out Sun Kil Moon's new album 'Benji.'

For more info on Mark Kozelek and Sun Kil Moon: