An underrecognized 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 -- 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 towards 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
1993's 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. 1995's Wild Love continued
Smog's approach towards 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 relective and sensitive
tracks. A year later, the Accumulation: None singles collection
arrived with five new songs and the continued use of paranthesis.
Classically voluble, Callahan returned with Supper in 2003.
Sorry About Dresden"
Chapel Hill, NC indie rock combo Sorry About Dresden
was formed in mid-1997 by vocalist Matt Oberst, guitarist
Eric Roehrig, bassist Matt Tomich and drummer James Hepler.
Debuting early the following year with the single "Crusades,"
the group also appeared on the compilations Pet Sounds Volume
One and The Bridges of Dissonant County before issuing the
full-length The Mayor Will Abdicate in late 1999.
EXTRA TRACK: JIMMY SOUL"Happy
for the rest of your life"
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