Red House Painters | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Red House Painters


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With the fifth Red House Painters release, Songs for a Blue Guitar, bandleader Mark Kozelek still conjures the wannabe poet in the local cafe scribbling down weak metaphors for his personal travails. "Have You Forgotten," a sweetly sung meditation on nostalgia and loss, actually contains the couplet "That's when friends were nice / To think of them just makes you feel nice." The album is dotted with such poetic missteps, but the band's rolling, languid settings balance Kozelek's grade-school testimonials. A switch in labels--from 4AD to Supreme, a new imprint run by teen-pandering filmmaker John Hughes--seems also to have yielded a slight stylistic shift. While previous RHP recordings rippled with a majestic grace and faultless restraint, the new album finds the band loosening up; lengthy workouts like "Make Like Paper" and a nearly unrecognizable cover of Wings' hokum hit "Silly Love Songs" evoke the casual rambling of Neil Young's guitar. When the band kicks into overdrive it creates a pleasing tension with the soothing warble of Kozelek, who sounds like no one so much as Bread-era David Gates. Kozelek's last Chicago performance was a solo gig in which his stage fright reportedly resulted in an array of excuses and apologies but very little music. Hopefully, emboldened by the presence of bandmates, he'll get the job done this time. Friday, 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 525-2508.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of one Painter playing guitar by William Howard.

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