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What's Next To The Moon

Mark Kozelek
What's Next To The Moon
(Badman Recording Company)

I'll have to admit that the first time I read about the conception of this album, I had a lot of doubts about it. Not only had Kozelek just released a 7-song EP last year (Rock N Rock Singer), but this newest 10 song offering was all covers of AC/DC songs. Not only had he covered three of their songs on the aforementioned EP from last year (all of which appear on this album as well, albeit all but one in different forms), but coming only months before the long-awaited Old Ramon release from his group Red House Painters and it seemed like sort of a sly trick almost.

The crazy thing is that it works pretty damn well, and I personally even like it a little better than Rock N Rock Singer. While it's true that there are no real 'new' songs on the recording, it stands as a super interesting document of music for the stylistic choices alone. Kozelek has taken 10 songs by a group who are known for their strutting bombast and turned them into stripped-down acoustic tracks that contain ten times more feeling at about one-fourth the volume. One of the other great things about the disc is that instead of covering newer tracks by the group, he's picked old tracks by the group that haven't fallen into the batch of tracks played as warmup songs on stadium PA's and blasting out of mullethead automobiles everywhere.

Despite running 10 songs, the album itself runs only 30 minutes exactly, mostly because each track has been tightened up to only an acoustic guitar and Kozelek's voice (although on some tracks one or the other or both have been multitracked). The album opens up with "Up To My Neck In You" and like most of the songs on the release, you probably wouldn't even be able to tell that it was an AC/DC song if you didn't know from the liner notes. He turns "Love Hungry Man" into a very quiet, subtle track and layers some very pretty plucked guitar on "Bad Boy Boogie."

Fortunately, there is a nice break about halfway through with the more upbeat title track "What's Next To The Moon." While it's interesting hearing him turn AC/DC tracks into something soothing, it's also welcome hearing him strum the strings so hard they reverberate and a croon that crawls more onto the deviious side of things. The same goes for the eighth track "If You Want Blood" in which the pace is quickened ever so slightly and the lyrics aren't sung quite so wistfully. The album closes out with a different arrangement of "Rock N Roll Singer" and it closes things out in a totally interesting way. On one hand, Kozelek has slowly made his way into the spotlight, making the lyrics of the song more meaningful, and in one way it's a bit funny that he's singing about being rock n roll in a totally acoustic song. In the end, it's those sorts of juxtapositions that make the album intriguing, but the execution by Kozelek that make it a really great listen.

Rating: 7.25