Red House Painters
Ocean Beach



by dreambrother18 USER (5 Reviews)
October 5th, 2006 | 13 replies

Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The fourth album from sadcore pioneers Red House Painters, is a wonderful collection of songs that represents perhaps their most upbeat record.

"Music is one of the ways by which you can know everything which is going on in the world....anything human can be felt through music, which means there is no limit to the creating that can be done. Its infinite, like God" - Nina Simone

Maybe Mark Kozelek read this when he was a kid.

If you believe that music is a vehicle for traversing the road to the understanding of the human condition, then that vehicle comes in many forms and guises. Leonard Cohen fans will tell you they listen to him not for the singing, or arrangements, or guitar playing – but for his words. Jeff Buckley fans will tell you his music was the vehicle for him to showcase his voice. Mark Kozelek fans will tell you that no one else leaves himself or herself as vulnerable on record as he does. His music is intensely personal, vulnerable, tragic, but also very human.

Released in 1995, Ocean Beach is the fourth Red House Painters album, and up to that point their most upbeat and polished. Sonically, this is not a great departure from their previous 3 albums and the standard RHP formula is once again evident. The body of his work thus far shows that he, as a person, feels a need to re-trace, detail and understand the things that have happened in the past. His fascination of loss, love and memory is still all there, but what makes Ocean Beach somewhat different from other RHP albums lies in its sonic textures. A more acoustic folk feel is coupled with Kozelek dropping some of the reverb on previous albums results in a record that, whilst introspective, has an undercurrent of hope and beauty not always so evident in his work.

‘Ocean Beach’ serves as an apt title for the album. The catchy, upbeat instrumental ‘Cabezon’ opens the album, with its jangly guitar line makes you feel like you were lying in a hammock on the lazy Sunday afternoon staring into the ocean. This is followed by the similarly beautiful and hopeful summer dress, which is perhaps one of the prettiest songs ever penned by Kozelek in which the subject ‘takes herself to the sand ‘ to ‘say a prayer and she’s kissed by ocean mist’. He lets you know right away, he’s in fine form.

The band changes gear for ‘San Geronimo’, a rocky, sleepy number that has Kozelek digging up memories of his childhood in San Francisco before retrieving back to quieter territory. Kozelek pulls out the punches on the latter half of the album with two mammoth compositions in the form of ‘Drop’ and ‘Moments’. Both feature extended jamming sessions by the band, but not before Kozelek leaves you floored with some killer song-writing.

‘Brockwell Park’ deserves special mention as the best song here. Stark, bleak and emotionally draining, it is only compounded by a first rate vocal performance. By the end, when he sings ‘if the days weren’t so precious/and no worlds where shorted wires kept us/things would be better than this’ you feel his world caving in.

But even with lyrics that bleak, Ocean Beach still feels lighter and more hopeful than either RHP I or II. That’s a compliment to Kozelek’s for the unique humanness that embodies this record. For those starting out, I would suggest Down Colorful Hill or RHP I. But as it stands, Ocean Beach is a wonderful addition to the RHP catalogue.

Wonderful indeed.

user ratings (172)

Comments:Add a Comment 
October 5th 2006


Very good for a first review, well done sir.

Dimes Make Dollars
October 5th 2006


I was going to review this but I couldn't really put the mood of the album in words. It's sad and nostalgic but still peaceful, like you know your best days are behind you but it doesn't really bother you.

Good review by the way, this album is amazing.

June 18th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, you know exactly what makes this album so special. I like it more and more each time I listen. Two unforgettable moments on this CD for me are that cathartic solo on "Moments", no pun intended btw!, and near the end of "Shadows" when the other instruments kind of fade from the mix leaving that beautiful piano. Great album, I need to hear more RHP

July 8th 2012


mark fuckin kozelek

July 8th 2012


good shit

August 3rd 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

especially moments

September 7th 2012


i cant deny that im weak sometimes, even in my strongest moments.

Digging: Mum - Finally We Are No One

March 26th 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

shadows - oooooo baby

Digging: Rolo Tomassi - Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It

May 9th 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

It's one of the first days that feel like summer here, and this is the perfect soundtrack. While this pretty melancholic, it's not near as crushing as most of Red House Painters' work, and it just has this perfect hazy summery vibe, at least to me.

Ocean of Noise
May 9th 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

Yea agreed

Digging: Circa Survive - Juturna

May 9th 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

I'd completely forgotten about Over My Head, tight song.

Ocean of Noise
May 9th 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

Yesss I love that one

May 9th 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

Everything on this one is solid, just didn't remember that one. Summer Dress may be my favorite though, just gorgeous.

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