One of the quickest ways to break into the biz or revitalize a stagnant career is to modernize someone else's hit song a decade or so after its release with a clever cover version. It worked wonders for Marilyn Manson and Alien Ant Farm -- even Johnny Cash cashed in on the tactic. San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek's motivations for borrowing another's tunes, however, don't exactly coincide with that get-rich-quick scheme. The erstwhile Red House Painters frontman doesn't copycat songs; he tends to translate them into an unfamiliar musical language that speaks volumes about the original's starkly sentimental intentions. What's Next to the Moon, released in 2001, consisted of Kozelek's folk-song interpretations of AC/DC classics, and in 2005, Kozelek and his band Sun Kil Moon issued Tiny Cities, the critically polarizing album of reinvented Modest Mouse songs. It's possible that Kozelek, whose own work delves into instrumentally sparse and moody sad-core, does these mini-tributes not to shy away from his own talents as a writer, but to reveal more of himself as a musician.
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