For Christmas, my brother gave me an Itunes gift certificate. This is really a great gift for someone who used to list 10+ CDs on his Christmas list every year. While my current "wanted" list is still quite extensive, I had a pretty quick time making up my mind about what to purchase with my $15 on Itunes.
First, I chose April by Sun Kil Moon. Sun Kil Moon is essentially a side project by Mark Kozelek, who is most well-known for his other band, Red House Painters (and also stars as the rock star in the terrible movie Shop Girl). To be honest, I haven't really listened to Red House Painters, and actually wasn't familiar with Kozelek until he released his first Sun Kil Moon CD, Ghosts of the Great Highway, back in 2003. I'm not sure where I originally heard the CD, but I was fortunate enough to receive it for my birthday the following year from my friend, Heatherly. Frankly, Ghosts of the Great Highway is in my top five albums that I own. I never get tired of listening to it. I can also listen to it year-round, since I seem to base my listening choices around the current season and weather.
Anyways, since it was cold and gloomy outside back in December, and since Kozelek's musical style generally does seem to fit with a quieter time of the year, I decided to purchase April. I have been listening to it for the past months and have to say that I have really been enjoying it. The first songs, "Lost Verses" and "The Light," are probably my favorite, but I haven't given it nearly as much play time as Ghosts, so this preference may change at some point. I was really struck by how much of a Nick Drake sound the song "Blue Heron" has; interesting. Anyways, whether this album will prove to be as amazing and have the longevity of Ghosts remains to be seen, but I would recommend it.
As a bit of a side note, before I made my purchase, I was trying to decide between April, which is technically Kozelek's follow-up to Ghosts, and Tiny Cities, which, while technically the second release under the name Sun Kil Moon, is actually a collection of covers of Modest Mouse songs. Not being that big of a Modest Mouse fan, this did have limited appeal to me, though the songs I have heard from it don't sound too bad. Anyways, in reading reviews for the albums on Cokemachineglow, I came across this hilarious Venn diagram that they had comparing Kozelek and Isaac Brock, lead singer of Modest Mouse. I thought it was worth sharing.
The second album I purchased was the self-titled album by Fleet Foxes. I came across this band by some referral on Amazon.com and really enjoyed the song "White Winter Hymnal." Since the rest of the album also has a fairly acoustic/folky sound to it, I thought that it might also be a good winter purchase. Like April, I have really been enjoying it so far. It features some great vocal harmonies, and if you like the singing style of Jim James from My Morning Jacket, you will probably like Fleet Foxes. Plus, with the cover art on the album is pretty sweet.