Independent – 2001 – 78 minutes

Victims of the great major label cull of 1998, the Red House Painters' sixth album hung in limbo for years until the bean counters had the bright idea of selling it on to people who actually cared. Recorded in umpteen studios over a winter and spring, 'Old Ramon' finds the band capturing the moods of those seasons, the guitars and frontman Mark Kozelek tuned somewhere between ho-hum and bright.

Never an outfit to say in three minutes what they could say in ten, the 78-minute running time may scare even the most die hard RHP fan, but there's solace in the slow burn as Kozelek relives the diversions and crashes on his lonely highway. Only on 'Between Days' and 'Michigan' do the arrangements go above 15-miles per hour, but the intensity on the likes of 'River' and aptly-named album centerpiece 'Cruiser' mean that you'll lose track of time, every time. If 'Old Ramon' had been granted its original release date it would have been a surefire contender for album of the year. Three years on nothing's changed.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Wop-A-Din-Din – Byrd Joel – Void – Between Days – Cruiser – Michigan – River – Smokey – Golden – Kavita