Old Ramon - Red House Painters

Universal acclaim - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Kozelek's unique arrangements and breathtaking melodies set him far above his contemporaries. [#154, p.93]
  2. 90
    Although they were written as early as 1996 and recorded in 1997-98, the songs on Old Ramon (like most Red House Painters material) have a timeless, dreamy quality to them that prevent them from sounding stale. An album this beautiful can never come too late.
  3. 90
    With the release of Old Ramon, Kozelek shows he's capable of sustained inspiration.... It's Kozelek's most successful LP: consistent, heartbreakingly sad and filled with gems that will linger in his fans' psyches. [#49, p.85]
  4. Taken as a whole, Old Ramon is a brilliant mopey stroll through San Francisco's slate gray streets.
  5. 90
    Old Ramon is sinuous and unhurried, a beautiful downer of a folk rock record that has the lithe and shadowy promise of the ocean.
  6. Much of the Painters’ power stems from Kozelek’s arresting voice, which meets its deep, moody match in the band’s exquisite renderings of rootsy gothic grace.
  7. Across Old Ramon's sprawling 70-minute set, Kozelek is still a master of his sly charade, disguising sprawling webs of complex guitar chords and considered narratives as humble, simple acoustic ditties.
  8. They're the sentiments and sounds of West Coast rock becalmed and quietened, stripped of fretwanking excess, and invested with a warmth that transcends cliché. A fortunate, if belated release, and a tragedy averted.
  9. Unlike past efforts, the songs don't overstay their welcome, evoking more smile-enducing moments than one would come to expect from RHP
  10. Many slower outfits-- Low, American Music Club, Codeine, et al.-- are sometimes pinned with the theory that if you've heard one of their albums, you've heard them all. Such is no longer the case with the Red House Painters.
  11. The album's long-delayed release only makes its joyous sound that much more refreshing; its inviting mix of gentle and fuzzy guitars and Kozelek's empathetic vocals make it the Painters' most hopeful, accessible work.
  12. Wade through a couple of outtake-sounding openers that consist mainly of mechanical strumming on an acoustic 12-string and Kozelek's duo-toned vocals and you'll be rewarded with some of the his most fully realized songs to date.
  13. While Kozelek consistently sustains beauty that's equal parts stately and awkward, Old Ramon's songs don't quite live up to the career highlights that dominate the warmer Ocean Beach or the more emotionally gripping Red House Painters (the one with the roller-coaster, not the bridge, on its cover). Still, after such a long involuntary hiatus, it's worth the several listens it takes to fully digest Old Ramon.
  14. It would have been a shame if this album went unheard, as it is the most fully realized Painters album to date and finds the band, as well as Kozelek's songwriting, in peak form.
  15. 70
    Emotionally generous to the point of near biography, the Red House Painters win over listeners with their ability to dress even the most depressing song in lyrical warmth...
  16. But as wonderful as parts of Old Ramon are, the spaces between the high points are at times, less than impressive.
  17. Kozelek's less-than-euphoric vocals become wearying after a few tracks, though the band shuffle basic resources with some brio. Worth the wait, but only just.
  18. 'Old Ramon' is a slight affair cut from similar cloth to '...Blue Guitar', fuzzy with distortion, hampered by less than inspirational songwriting.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. DR
    Feb 15, 2009
    I love this band. They have such an effortless talent, they make the 8-9 minute songs just drift by blissfully. One of their best, sad but more reassured than Roller-coaster. Among their best. Full Review »
  2. paulk
    Nov 4, 2006
    While one great song does not a great album make, the purchase price is covered by the poignant and beautiful SMOKEY. We also get a MBV wokout with Between Days, Americana can can with Michigan and an ode to a Feline Furball in Wop a din din. Some others might overstay their welcome (River, Void, Cruiser) but as with all RHP releases even those not quite hitting the water-mark still can float most peoples boat! Full Review »
  3. TJS
    Jan 12, 2006
    Listening to cruiser, you could feel yourself flying away, as LA sparkles on the ground. Classic, perfect, true.