Sun Kil Moon

The 'Great' Beyond

SunEven though he got a hand from Red House Painters drummer Anthony Koustos and guitarist Jerry Vessel in the studio, group leader Mark Kozelek opted to christen his latest project Sun Kil Moon. The new outfit's debut album, "Ghosts of the Great Highway," arrives this week via Jetset. Aside from the recent single "Duk Koo Kim," which appears on the album in an alternate form, "Ghosts" constitutes the release of Kozelek's first new music in nearly two years.

"I just wanted a new beginning to things and didn't really want my name on the cover," Kozelek says. "I came up with a title and we're trying something different." The 10-track set is highlighted by two of the most entrancing songs Kozelek has penned in years: the bittersweet "Carry Me Ohio," which ruminates on his childhood in the Buckeye state, and the gorgeous "Gentle Moon," a largely acoustic cut tinged with accompaniment from a string trio.

"I never know what's going to end up being for the band or what's going to end up being something I record on my own," Kozelek says. "Duk Koo Kim," named after the South Korean boxer who died after a 1982 fight with Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, turned out to be a little of both, as it dates back several years to the Painters' last tour.

At nearly 15 minutes, the track hearkens back to similarly long early Painters favorites such as "Katy Song" and "Down Colorful Hill." "When something feels right, it just keeps going," Kozelek says, when asked to discuss his predilection for penning such epic songs. "I think that song just seems right to me at that length."