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Mark Kozelek

Little Drummer Boy - Live

Caldo Verde

Released nearly in conjunction with the double-disc re-issuing of Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon debut, Little Drummer Boy - Live feels like an all-encompassing retrospective for an outstanding musician who still doesn't quite get the recognition he deserves.

The material on these two discs are culled from roughly half-a-year's worth of performances in the U.S. and Europe when Kozelek's touring show consisted of only of himself and Phil Carney on second guitar. With such a simple treatment, it says something about Kozelek's strength as a writer and arranger that there's not even a hint of dead weight on the 20 tracks that make up this release. The stellar performances on comparatively recent numbers "Salvador Sanchez," AC/DC's "Rock 'n' Roll Singer" and the trio of Modest Mouse covers are practically assured, as Kozelek's spent his career streamlining his sound. The real revelations are on the new treatments served up on Red House Painters classics like "Bubble" and the cover of The Cars' "All Mixed Up." Originally, these songs were florid and incendiary, respectively, but in this setting, severely amped-down, their intimacy reaches a more personal level of communication beyond their previous internal monologues of regret.

One more step in the honing of his craft, Little Drummer Boy is worthwhile listening for anyone even peripherally interested in contemporary folk music and essential for all Mark Kozelek fans.

Caldo Verde: www.caldoverderecords.com