Smog Rain on Lens Review

BBC Review

Bill Callahan (aka Smog) has been releasing his own kind of unique homespun rock for a...

Olli Siebelt 2002

A long time veteran of the 4-Track home studio, Bill Callahan (aka Smog) has been releasing his own kind of unique homespun rock for a little more than ten years now. While this in itself is nothing new, hes amassed an incredible amount of both support and material for his music. Callahans songs have never been the kind that you would ever play at a party, unless you wanted to drive everyone to drink rather quicker than usual, of course. But still despite being a pretty melancholy and self-obsessed kind of character, the guy writes some absolutely amazing songs. Just released on Domino here in the UK, Rain On Lens sees Callahan teaming up with other scene stalwarts Rick Rizzo (Eleventh Dream Day) and Pat Samson (US Maple) to create another wonderfully gloomy acoustic indie rock meets alt-country type album. Recorded at Electrical Audio and Acme Studios in Chicago, the birthplace of Smog, the tracks are heavy and thick, plodding along like an overweight jogger on an incredibly hot day.

Bettina Richards from Thrill Jockey records once described one of her favourite bands as back-porch minimalism and that term would be pretty appropriate here. Ive heard this sort of thing before on other Drag City releases, but theres just something about Smog that makes them sit above the rest. His songs touch on the raw nerve of melancholy - a soundscape that paints a picture of deserted warehouses, darkened skies and rural Americana as seen through the rainy windscreen of a rather large automobile.

Fans of Will Oldham or Jim O Rourke will be in familiar territory here, while for the rest of you - we suggest picking up a copy of this and just letting it sink into you. Like those tobacco stains on your nice button down shirt you wore to the pub last night. Its the kind of release thats been there all along, its just that you dont notice it straight away. Quality, if not melancholy stuff. Recommended.

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