Classic or Dud: Smog

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Well, I looked over the "Classic or Dud" section, and saw no thread on Mr. Callahan. I shall state my position immediately: CLASSIC. Love the depressive-yet-humorous schtick, the progression from supah-lo-fi to intricately arranged and produced, the flat, low, nasal voice, and the succinct imagery of the lyrics.

We know where Tom stands on Mr. O'Rourke; how about his pal Bill?

BrianR, Thursday, 3 May 2001 00:00 (twenty-three years ago) link

The two O'Rourke produced albs are classic - esp. 'Knock Knock' , if only for the children's choir and the line "I was raised on cake" in 'Hit the Ground Running' - but then I tried the more recent 'Dongs of Sevotion' produced by John McEntire and chums and found it almost totally without interest. Also saw him live at around the same time w/McEntire, Jeff Parker and Rick Rizzo and again I was bored shitless (the 'atmos' of the Royal Festival Hall didn't exactly help, nor the feeble 'avant' set that J. Cocker had delivered beforehand.) All this leads me to suspect that his collaborators make a big difference...

Andrew, Thursday, 3 May 2001 00:00 (twenty-three years ago) link

Oooh, search till you find "Knock Knock". Gorgeous record. Also search for the Ex-Con EP. Some of his early records are pretty good as well, such as Tired Tape Machine.
Destroy only "Dongs of Sevotion" and Cynthia Dall.

Stevie Nixed, Thursday, 3 May 2001 00:00 (twenty-three years ago) link

Hey Andrew, you were at that Royal Festival Hall show too, then! I was about to say, my girlfriend and I left five songs in. It was mildly pleasant...to a fault.

Smog have done some fine songs and albums. But I don't know. I think someone like the Walkabouts taps a vaguely similar vein and does it with more skill overall.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 3 May 2001 00:00 (twenty-three years ago) link

Didn't you just recently say that about a completely different band and the Walkabouts, Ned? :)

Josh, Thursday, 3 May 2001 00:00 (twenty-three years ago) link

Sure did. AND MY COMPARISON AGAIN APPLIES. ;-)

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 3 May 2001 00:00 (twenty-three years ago) link

dud, i gave up after julius caesar. i know he changed after that, or soon after that but i have heard a few songs from his latest record and they are just as dreadful and perhaps even more dull.

keith, Thursday, 3 May 2001 00:00 (twenty-three years ago) link

Classic. Everything from Wild Love and beyond is great. In particular Wild Love is a landmark album in itself, for Bathysphere alone. Red Apple Falls is similarly great, though more of an "album" and less expansive. Dongs of Sevotion is in some ways the most fully developed, the most subtle, the best songcraft, and a few real winners.

Sterling Clover, Thursday, 3 May 2001 00:00 (twenty-three years ago) link

Wild Love is a classic. It'll make my 100 for sure. Although, I like Cat Power's cover of Bathysphere better than the original (which is good). Oh, but that Prince song on Wild Love...ugh.... it never ends.

bnw, Thursday, 3 May 2001 00:00 (twenty-three years ago) link

Bill Callahan's lyrics really hit you where it hurts and the tunes are often deceptively catchy, (see Dress Sexy At My Funeral, Cold Blooded Old Times, etc) and he's FUNNY with it, which makes for CLASSIC listening.

achilles_last_stand, Saturday, 12 May 2001 00:00 (twenty-three years ago) link

six months pass...
I like him, but it's all suspicious, like he's avoiding making errors of taste, consciously, a lot

maryann, Tuesday, 27 November 2001 01:00 (twenty-two years ago) link

Is it just me, or did Smog, Lambchop, Catpower, and Sparklehorse all pop out of the woodwork around the same time?

Mickey Black Eyes, Tuesday, 27 November 2001 01:00 (twenty-two years ago) link

three weeks pass...
Smog spells "turn-off" to a woman faster than Billy Ray Cyrus' mullet. Ever notice how Callahan's biggest fans are dew-eyed male college DJ types?

Laura N.

Laura N., Monday, 24 December 2001 01:00 (twenty-two years ago) link

Smog spells "turn-off" to a woman faster than Billy Ray Cyrus' mullet.

duly noted. laura, could you point out some other musical/dating faux pas for those of us who want to retroformat our collections to make us more appealing to the opposite sex?

jess, Monday, 24 December 2001 01:00 (twenty-two years ago) link

If this means that I have to get rid of my audiobook copy of "Will Oldham's Dating Tips for the Lonely and Dewy-Eyed", I'm gonna mope.

Mitch Lastnamewithheld, Monday, 24 December 2001 01:00 (twenty-two years ago) link

My ocular hydrological condition is congenital and I'll thank you to not mock it.

Josh, Monday, 24 December 2001 01:00 (twenty-two years ago) link

one year passes...
Modest Proposal Concerning Smog:

I am stranded (after a fashion) in France with only two Smog records, and for numerous reasons have a desperate hankering to soak in the entire lot of them. Seeing as Smog records cost about 20 euro apiece here and my budget for new records is nil, I have come up with a proposal, as follows: Someone on this board makes copies for me of all the Smog albums (or most of them, besides "Knock Knock" and "Red Apple Falls" which I have here) and sends them to me, and in exchange I send them a CD or DVD from France or anything else in that price range that you might want from France.

Interested parties may email me off-board.

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 16:45 (twenty years ago) link

Aside from "Lize," I think Smog is a borecore super-dud.

Matthew Perpetua (Matthew Perpetua), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 16:52 (twenty years ago) link

thank you for your input

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 16:57 (twenty years ago) link

I like them plenty, but Burning Kingdom is the only one that I love without qualification, especially the first song, 'My Shell'. They seem to let really let themselves blaze on that in a way I wish they'd do much more often.

NickB (NickB), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:02 (twenty years ago) link

"they"?

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:05 (twenty years ago) link

'knock knock' is v good but i haven't tried anything else.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:08 (twenty years ago) link

you should try "red apple falls" and then "wild love"

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:09 (twenty years ago) link

ditto to that, doctor came at dawn is fantastic also

cinniblount (James Blount), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:12 (twenty years ago) link

why the fuck do amg reviews begin with pointlessly corny shit like

""I wanna tell you about a man/You won't find him on your MTV," Smog's singer/songwriter Bill Callahan sings on his first album, 1990's Sewn to the Sky. Though he's actually referring to Jesus, those lyrics apply to Callahan "

????

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:14 (twenty years ago) link

also why is every album critiqued in terms of some supposed career arc that's described so many ways as to become completely nebulous i.e. "this album is both a continuation and a return to form but also a slight slide"

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:14 (twenty years ago) link

no wait it gets better

"on Sewn to the Sky, you can hear every needle used to put him there. "


does that even mean anything?

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:15 (twenty years ago) link

its amazing that as rich a body of work as this hasn't seemed to have found a single review worth the ink

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:16 (twenty years ago) link

esp. as i know he really appeals to writer types.

cinniblount (James Blount), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:18 (twenty years ago) link

amateurist, maybe we could work out some kind of Smog/furniture trade. I don't have everything, but I have Julius Caeser, Wild Love, Doctor Came at Dawn, Accumulation: None, Dongs of Sevotion, Rain on Lens, and (somewhere, I kind of lost it, but maybe I can find it) Supper.

NA (Nick A.), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:18 (twenty years ago) link

i cant promise furniture though since i dont know exactly when im returning, where exactly ill be settling and what ill need. but if you want to send me smog cds with only the vague but sincere promise to TRY to get you some furniture at a later date, i'm game.

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:20 (twenty years ago) link

I think the last two albums were pretty lousy. Enough to make me not really care what he does from now on. I liked the more amibitious sound that was there on parts of Dongs but since then he's seemed to retreat back into half-assed indiedom.

I hate that place sometimes.

may pang (maypang), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:22 (twenty years ago) link

Email me to tell me which ones you want and where you want them. I'm not promising anything, but I'll try. I'm kind of busy with moving, but copying cds ain't that much work.
I wish I could find Supper, it's really good, probably one of my favorites. Rain on Lens was a little disappointing but still has a few stunners on it. I am a fan of nu-Smog, I guess.

NA (Nick A.), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:24 (twenty years ago) link

i will send you some smog CDs if you get me the new colette comp!

gygax! (gygax!), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:28 (twenty years ago) link

what is the new colette comp? is it french?

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:29 (twenty years ago) link

Dammit. I just remembered that Sarah packed some of my cds while I was out of town and I don't know which Smog cds are packed and which aren't. But still, email me which ones you want and I'll see if they're somewhere I can get to them.

NA (Nick A.), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:38 (twenty years ago) link

http://www.colette.fr

gygax! (gygax!), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:44 (twenty years ago) link

It comes out friday (at colette), and it is called "the chill of colette"

gygax! (gygax!), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:49 (twenty years ago) link

colette is an uber trendy store near the pompidou centre which puts out uber trendy quarterly mix cds. i'll swap you some smog for some cheese!

btw -


Aside from "Lize," I think Smog is a borecore super-dud.

mr. perpetua - so off the money that it's hilraious.

stirmonster, Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:49 (twenty years ago) link

yes, those of us accustomed to mr. perpetua's ways have already learned to filter such assessments as ripe for 180 degree reversals at any moment.

gygax! (gygax!), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:54 (twenty years ago) link

Am!st i will copy everything for you as mp3's on a cd just cos i love to spread the smog and the (smog) love. mail me here

jed (jed_e_3), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 17:58 (twenty years ago) link

right - that didnt work

here

c_ohara (at) btinternet.com

not at my sign on e mail which is fake.

jed (jed_e_3), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 18:00 (twenty years ago) link

sorry i didnt realise you had a previous offer from stir - i didnt mean to steal his thunder! (but i reckon that smog may be the only artist under the sun i have more stuff by :-))

jed (jed_e_3), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 18:05 (twenty years ago) link

colin- I'd like to hear some more smog. what would you like in exchange?

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 18:08 (twenty years ago) link

that is if you're ok with exchanging stuff with me.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 18:08 (twenty years ago) link

excellent, of course - what was that the Feldman thing you mentioned before (i think because of something i mentioned in a thread to do with extremely unlikely things to find on peer2peer) -can you remember?

jed (jed_e_3), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 18:12 (twenty years ago) link

I have several things by him now: would you like to hear 'for bunita marcus' (I have a version which is not available).

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 18:14 (twenty years ago) link

also: 'for christian wolff' (that's 3 cds).

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 18:15 (twenty years ago) link

go for it jed. anyway, i don't think posting cheese from france is a particularly good idea, especially as the cheese i want is as whiffy as you can imagine.

stirmonster, Tuesday, 9 December 2003 18:15 (twenty years ago) link

hmmmmmmm, some delicious Mont d'Or right in time for the Xmas season...

Baaderist (Fabfunk), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 18:16 (twenty years ago) link

The Faith/Void split on Dischord Records... maybe? Insanely classic DC hardcore

bear, bear, bear, Thursday, 11 June 2009 09:28 (fifteen years ago) link

Ah.

Sickamous Mouthall (Scik Mouthy), Thursday, 11 June 2009 09:36 (fifteen years ago) link

Ow, was pretty drunk there but yeah the classic The Faith and Void split on Dischord Records was what I was referring to.

"It's time to put God away." It's gotta be one of my favorites from this new one. I can understand folks not digging on it too much, sucker's almost 10 minutes long and not exactly dynamic, but that resigned mantra is fucking chilling. "This is the end of faith, no more must I strive/To find my peace, to find my peace in the light". The song's kind of rooted itself in my brain and it's a little scary.

circa1916, Thursday, 11 June 2009 18:38 (fifteen years ago) link

getting slowly obsessed w/ callahan. 'eid ma clack shaw' worked its way into my itunes most played list pretty quickly.

iatee, Thursday, 11 June 2009 19:12 (fifteen years ago) link

is it only me who feels as if callahan's music always sound a bit like a parody on the subject,than the real thing?
(same goes with Oldham as a matter of fact)
i'm not saying this as a negative thing btw.i like his music.

Zeno, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 07:19 (fifteen years ago) link

Not sure I'm following you. Parody of what exactly? And how? I've heard Oldham criticized as being "ironic", but I don't really think that's totally fair. I guess a bearded Kentuckian covering Mariah Carey is "ironic", but he never does that sort of stuff in a condescending, winking sort of way. Weird idiosyncratic things like recording the old ragged Palace standards with slick Nashville session musicians seem to stem less from "lol" and more "hey, i like this kind of music too, it would be cool to reinterpret my old songs this way."

I'm rambling about the wrong dude, what's this about Callahan making parodies?

doom shit (circa1916), Wednesday, 24 June 2009 08:07 (fifteen years ago) link

maybe irony is a better word to describe it,yes.
what i mean is,that he is obv. influenced by the classic singer/songwriters
but i feel he never sound as serious, or emotionally involved on the music as they were, more like a little wink,a precise and serious gesture to their music,but a gesture still.

Zeno, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 08:25 (fifteen years ago) link

I think callahan just approaches songwriting from a very sober, removed sort of place. It's self-aware, yes, and often ironic in that sense ("I am singing a song") but it's in no way unserious.

narly dude lol (Clay), Wednesday, 24 June 2009 08:54 (fifteen years ago) link

six months pass...

What was the odd spiky guitar he used up until Dongs (he's playing it on the cover)?

PaulTMA, Sunday, 10 January 2010 19:18 (fourteen years ago) link

three months pass...

I Feel like the Mother of the World

^^^^^^^^^best song ever, right?

tart w/ a heart (a hoy hoy), Monday, 19 April 2010 17:29 (fourteen years ago) link

past week or so i've gone from feeling like this body of work is 'okayish songwriter dude' to feeling like it is 'essential American genius'

thomp, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 21:21 (fourteen years ago) link

like it's only just now that i've paid attention enough to notice that he, like, never uses three chords where two will do - i'm not sure if it's real amateurism or entirely a decision - and i was wondering if that changed, when he went from being 'smog' to being 'bill'

thomp, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 21:26 (fourteen years ago) link

past week or so i've gone from feeling like this body of work is 'okayish songwriter dude' to feeling like it is 'essential American genius'

Past two years or so I've gone from feeling like Bill's body of work is "essential American genius" to "okayish songwriter dude" -- exactly the opposite progression.

I just wish he hadn't adopted the "ilxor" moniker (ilxor), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 22:08 (fourteen years ago) link

thotmp

iatee, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 22:10 (fourteen years ago) link

"somewhere in the night" will always be a jam

kamerad, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 22:51 (fourteen years ago) link

"I Feel like the Mother of the World" is easily my least favourite song on that album.

jed_, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 23:55 (fourteen years ago) link

Past two years or so I've gone from feeling like Bill's body of work is "essential American genius" to "okayish songwriter dude" -- exactly the opposite progression.

― I just wish he hadn't adopted the "ilxor" moniker (ilxor), Tuesday, 20 April 2010 23:08 (Yesterday) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

this seems so weird to me. like, the more i get into this dude, the more i love his stuff. in other words, thomp otm

just sayin, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 07:51 (fourteen years ago) link

yeah - my estimation of how good he is rises each year. there are few artists whose work every time I revisit it seems better than it did before, but he's one of them for sure. there isn't one release of his, save maybe "whaleheart," that doesn't always yield new treasures when I come back to it.

aerosmith live at the mohegan sun (underrated aerosmith albums I have loved), Wednesday, 21 April 2010 08:28 (fourteen years ago) link

as long as you've previously discovered the hagerty-fried treasure of honeymoon child & day then that's an okay statement

and also yes. his oeuvre is more satisfying than most i think; there are these seemingly arbitrary aesthetic choices he makes for each record which leave listeners with lps neatly suited to different smog moods.

Earning your Masters in Library and Information Science is beautiful (schlump), Wednesday, 21 April 2010 10:17 (fourteen years ago) link

always always always classic. listening to him is like being hugged.

peacocks, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 18:10 (fourteen years ago) link

O_o

_▂▅▇█▓▒░◕‿‿◕░▒▓█▇▅▂_ (Steve Shasta), Wednesday, 21 April 2010 18:13 (fourteen years ago) link

Like being hugged by a really big mouth.

Brad Nelson (BradNelson), Wednesday, 21 April 2010 18:15 (fourteen years ago) link

that's ok with me.

peacocks, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 18:17 (fourteen years ago) link

like being hugged, awkwardly, by an autistic stockbroker.

by another name (amateurist), Wednesday, 21 April 2010 19:04 (fourteen years ago) link

I don't think I would mind that too much either. give me more.

peacocks, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 19:24 (fourteen years ago) link

two months pass...

this version of ex-con is stunning. its all velvet undergroundy and great. makes me want to hear him do his back catalog in this style.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrYwWNuR5nw

cajunsunday, Tuesday, 13 July 2010 17:48 (fourteen years ago) link

A+

ilxor has truly been got at and become an ILXor (ilxor), Tuesday, 13 July 2010 18:06 (fourteen years ago) link

really great

be told and get high on coconut (gbx), Tuesday, 13 July 2010 18:18 (fourteen years ago) link

I remember playing the album version of "Ex-Con" for someone at some point and being asked if it was a Lou Reed song they'd never heard. Now it kind of makes sense.

rope (lloydwabbitt), Wednesday, 14 July 2010 20:38 (fourteen years ago) link

when is this from?

iago g., Wednesday, 14 July 2010 20:52 (fourteen years ago) link

sorry, got it. 2001.

iago g., Wednesday, 14 July 2010 21:00 (fourteen years ago) link

That is great, and I'd forgotten the lyrics immediately before VU fuzzy meltdown section, so that little 1-2 is killing me right now

atoms breaking heart (a passing spacecadet), Wednesday, 14 July 2010 21:08 (fourteen years ago) link

this was a b-side of a single iirc.

_▂▅▇█▓▒░◕‿‿◕░▒▓█▇▅▂_ (Steve Shasta), Wednesday, 14 July 2010 21:39 (fourteen years ago) link

Shasta, Jean jacket and tie - such a lie or good look?

jed_, Wednesday, 14 July 2010 22:11 (fourteen years ago) link

bolo tie ftw

_▂▅▇█▓▒░◕‿‿◕░▒▓█▇▅▂_ (Steve Shasta), Wednesday, 14 July 2010 22:30 (fourteen years ago) link

love this song so much

just sayin, Thursday, 15 July 2010 07:41 (fourteen years ago) link

Aside from "Lize," I think Smog is a borecore super-dud.
― Matthew Perpetua (Matthew Perpetua), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 16:52 (6 years ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

wtf, how wrong can you be

just sayin, Thursday, 15 July 2010 07:42 (fourteen years ago) link

I've only got Doctor Came at Dawn and the Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle one he put out last year. So, what's the best one to get next bearing in mind I prefer the latter LP?

Dwight Yorke, Thursday, 15 July 2010 08:32 (fourteen years ago) link

Get his other solo record under his own name.

ilxor has truly been got at and become an ILXor (ilxor), Thursday, 15 July 2010 11:52 (fourteen years ago) link

woke on a whaleheart? thats prob my least fav of his stuff

just sayin, Thursday, 15 July 2010 12:00 (fourteen years ago) link

Me too, but it's probably the closest in tone to his latest album.

ilxor has truly been got at and become an ILXor (ilxor), Thursday, 15 July 2010 12:04 (fourteen years ago) link

Aside from "Lize," I think Smog is a borecore super-dud.
― Matthew Perpetua (Matthew Perpetua), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 16:52 (6 years ago)

A single giggle is produced when I come across tripe like this, reminiscing that all y'all once paid temporary attention to the used-tissue musical opinion of this kook.

_▂▅▇█▓▒░◕‿‿◕░▒▓█▇▅▂_ (Steve Shasta), Thursday, 15 July 2010 17:39 (fourteen years ago) link

thing is Lize is such a bizarre track to single out. i mean the tune is good but it's a fairly undistinguished mid period track.

jed_, Thursday, 15 July 2010 17:51 (fourteen years ago) link

one year passes...

This sad news of this totally passed me by:

http://pitchfork.com/news/46064-rip-cynthia-dall/

mod night at the oasis (NickB), Friday, 13 July 2012 11:47 (twelve years ago) link

damn, that is very sad. RIP.

jed_, Friday, 13 July 2012 12:31 (twelve years ago) link

one year passes...

i got sick of no smog/callahan on spotify so i burned a cd of all his albums that i have on itunes (i seem to have lost a few in various hard drive crashes) and it's crazy having it on shuffle and just hearing the expanse of what he's done and how it's all really different but all him and each album has some mindblowing songs on it

congratulations (n/a), Wednesday, 7 August 2013 19:56 (ten years ago) link

the in-most-other-musical-circumstances-i-can-think-of-dangerous arbitrary stylistic variations between records - additions of instruments, p dramatic differences in approaches to drumming, use of harmony vox, &c&c - are reliably successful, also

szarkasm (schlump), Wednesday, 7 August 2013 20:38 (ten years ago) link

i dunno, there's a coherent long-term evolution in his stylistic approach

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Wednesday, 7 August 2013 20:40 (ten years ago) link

three years pass...

I like him, but it's all suspicious, like he's avoiding making errors of taste, consciously, a lot

tryina maaake gooooood

j., Wednesday, 15 February 2017 23:01 (seven years ago) link

one year passes...

nice to have everything on Spotify now, have been exploring some of my less-explored corners of the back catalog. Currently really enjoying Kicking a Couple Around

Fedora Dostoyevsky (man alive), Monday, 3 September 2018 18:00 (five years ago) link


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