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Smog

An under-recognized pioneer of the lo-fi revolution, Smog was essentially the alias of one Bill Callahan, an enigmatic singer/songwriter whose odd, fractured music neatly epitomized the tenets and excesses of the home-recording boom. Melancholy, poignant, and self-obsessed, Callahan's four-track output offered a peepshow view into an insular world of alienation and inner turmoil, his painfully intimate songs ping-ponging wildly through a scrapbook of childhood recollections, failed relationships, bizarre fetishes, and dashed hopes.

Smog debuted in 1988 with the spare, primitive Macrame Gunplay, a cassette-only release issued on Callahan's own Disaster label. Cow followed in 1989, while three more tapes -- A Table Setting, Tired Tape Machine, and Sewn to the Sky -- were issued a year later. With 1991's Floating EP, Smog signed to the Chicago-based indie label Drag City, and with the move began an advancement toward more traditional songcraft. The subsequent full-length, Forgotten Foundation, was his most well-rounded effort yet, employing a stronger sense of melody while remaining true to the trademark bare-bones atmosphere.

Released in 1993, the superb Julius Caesar raised the stakes considerably. Recorded with collaborators Cynthia Dall and Jim O'Rourke, the album expanded the Smog palette to include touches of cello, violin, and even banjo. At the same time, Callahan's songs were his best yet; highlighted by the touching "Chosen One" and the menacing "Your Wedding," Julius Caesar also featured "I Am Star Wars!," a hilarious rant built around a tape loop of the intro to the Stones' "Honky Tonk Women." The six-track Burning Kingdom EP appeared the following year.

Issued in 1995, Wild Love continued Smog's approach toward relative sonic grandeur. Led off by the remarkable "Bathysphere" (its title a fitting metaphor for Callahan's self-absorption) and climaxed by the epic "Prince Alone in the Studio" (a virtual theme song for a solitary creative existence), the LP reflected his bitter obsessions with stunning clarity, emerging as a triumph of abject failure. After 1996's Kicking a Couple Around EP, Smog resurfaced later in the year with The Doctor Came at Dawn; Red Apple Falls followed in 1997.

The peripatetic Callahan relocated to Chicago prior to the release of 1999's Knock Knock, resurfacing in the spring of 2000 with Dongs of Sevotion and the Strayed EP. 'Neath the Puke Tree followed that fall, an EP that reinvented several tracks and included a few new ones. By the next year, Callahan changed his project's name to the more intimate (Smog), drawing attention away from the "idea" of Smog and putting more emphasis on the music. The next album, Rain on Lens, followed on this path by unveiling several more reflective and sensitive tracks. A year later, the Accumulation: None singles collection arrived with five new songs and the continued use of parentheses. Classically voluble, Callahan returned with Supper in 2003. The literary, laid-back A River Ain't Too Much to Love -- which reflected Callahan's move to Austin, Texas and featured performances by Drag City labelmate Joanna Newsom -- arrived in 2005. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Bill Callahan is one of my lyrical heroes!
Dont read this because it actually works. You will get kissed on the possible Friday by the love of your life . Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 day . Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary out this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes when done press f6 and your lover's name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works!
What the heck!? I thought this was Nick Drake, and then looked up. Hmm
sometimes I feel, like the mother of the world
mbowley75
The old stuff is still untouchable for me as far as Smog goes. After Wild Love, Bill Callahan never quite got back there in my estimation.
--Smug--
smog is the best, bill callahan is the best. his new solo albums are great too.
bathysphere makes me want to be a kid so i can die before i grow old and bitter.
Rain on Lens is amazing
the silver jews are a hundred times better then smog, i will debate that to my death bed.
they sound like the silver jews
I have to agree mmilliman. Sounds alot like Lou.
mmilliman
How is Lou Reed not considered a similar artist? Callahan's vocals would fit right in between any two songs on most of Lou's albums.
You know....I really like this cat. Our Anniversary. Who hasnt been there?
changzilla
I saw him live and it's incredible!
Never heard it before, but now I'm glad I have.
beautifully said bishops babes
I agree with brit
Callahan has perfected the pause, like a great painter using spots of blank canvas to greater efect than any amount of paint ( i beleve the term is "negetive space";))
viva lo-fi

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