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Red House Painters are a Slowcore band from the 90's consisting of singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek, drummer Anthony Koutsos, guitarist Jerry Vessel, and bassists Gorden Mack (1989-1995)and Phil Carney (1995-2001).
They started out in 1989 constantly recording demos. These demos are now sought-out collector's items by fans of the band. Nonetheless, in 1992, they signed to 4AD Records and scrapped most of the older material in exchange for a thicker, slower version of that material. They released their first album, Down Colorful Hill to nearly universal critical acclaim.
After the release of the first album, they became the new shining beacons of the 4AD label along with the American Music Club. The next year would be spent in exhausting touring and recording for the band, resulting in two Self Titled Albums (and yes, they WERE in fact trying to mess with their fanbase). These albums would later be renamed to Rollercoaster and Bridge based off of their art work. Both of these albums are considered to be the epitome of the sadcore movement.
Then, after being pressured into creating a "pop album", the band recorded their 1995 album Ocean Beach. Once again given critical acclaim, but faced with commercial failure. The more folk-oriented sound did not set well with some fans.
After Ocean Beach, 4AD notoriously dropped the band after a waning relationship. The band would later join Island Records and promptly go on hiatus while Kozelek started recording a solo album. Songs for a Blue Guitar was released in 1996 to rave reviews. Though the album was a Kozelek solo album, it was given the RHP moniker in hopes of having it sell better.
After the success of Songs For A Blue Guitar the band got back together to record what would be their last album, Old Ramon. Just as they were looking forward to having it released in 1997, Island dropped them and then proceeded to refuse to release the album. It would take Kozelek another 4 years to finally raise enough money to buy the rights back from Island and release the album in 2001. By this time the band had already moved onto new horizons and RHP was no more. Kozelek went on to create Sun Kil Moon, while other members went onto solo projects.
Known for their string of critically acclaimed albums and Kozelek's brilliant yet depressing lyrics, Red House Painters are one of the quintessential bands of the 1990s.
Red House Painters incorporate the following tropes:
- Concept Album- Songs For A Blue Guitar seems like a pretty strong example. The songs are mostly about the pains of growing up and then watching yourself age.
- Cover Version- On "Silly Love Songs" by Paul McCartney, "Long Distance Runaround" by Yes "All Mixed Up" by The Cars, "I Am A Rock" by Simon and Garfunkel and an entire Mark Kozelek album dedicated to AC/DC covers.
- Cover Album- Mark's AC/DC album.
- Creator Breakdown- Mark always seems to be in one.
- Crazy Cat Lady- Mark owns a lot of cats and often writes songs about them..
- Epic Rocking- Most of their music in general has songs the stretch beyond 7 minutes. At least one song per album is over 10 minutes long.
- I Am the Band- Mark Kozelek on Songs For Blue Guitar
- In Name Only- Once again, Songs For A Blue Guitar. It was supposed to be Kozelek's solo debut.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes- Want to hear the original version of the Red House Painters cover of the classic Yes hit "Long Distance Runaround"? It's on the long out of print double vinyl of Ocean Beach. Though the song would later appear on Songs For Blue Guitar, many people who have heard the original claim it to be one of the best songs by the band. The later re-recording of it? Many consider it to not be one of Kozelek's best covers. The vinyl can be obtained, but it is extremely difficult, and extremely expensive, usually going for 350 to 700 dollars.
- The music video for "Summer Dress" was also seldom seen before the days of YouTube, to the point where many doubted to it even existing. The version you can now see on YouTube, however, has subpar audio quality.
- Their early pre-4AD demos are also pretty rare now. Not only are most of the songs not present on any "official" RHP recording, but they would never be rerecorded. Some of the tapes go for pretty cheap if their sellers aren't aware of their value, while others will go for as much as 70 to 100 dollars a pop.
- Leave the Camera Running- On the track "Over My Head" on Ocean Beach there's a few seconds of the band just talking in the recording studio before the songs starts and after the song ends.
- Lighter and Softer- Ocean Beach is considerably more upbeat than the rest of the band's catalog.
- Missing Episode- Old Ramon had become one of the most famous "lost albums" of all time before it was finally released. The hype built up so much that it's said that the band's fanbase nearly doubled just because of the circulating rumors of the album.
- New Sound Album- Ocean Beach
- Perishing Alt Rock Voice- Probably the absolute, most perished example in the history of music.
- Self-Titled Album- One of the rare bands to have TWO released in the same year.
- Spiritual Successor- Sun Kil Moon to the point where comparisons have become nigh impossible.
- Studio Chatter- "Over My Head"
- Textless Album Cover - Ocean Beach and Old Ramon
- Trope Codifier- For sadcore.
- Troubled Production- Songs For A Blue Guitar and Old Ramon suffered this. Read their sections on the trope page for more info