Rock Bottom Riser: Bill Callahan

Posted by Miss Ess, October 11, 2007 03:46pm | Post a Comment
red apple falls smog album cover
's Red Apple Falls is so simple and so beautiful.  I put it on today after not having heard it in years. The songs have abill callahan smog transportative effect on me.  There's something about the combination of Bill Callahan's deep voice and the pared down-ness of the music behind it that makes me perk up and listen so intensely that I can get totally lost in all of it.  I love that.  It's almost like a blanket, since I have been listening to Smog for so long.  Red Apple Falls has songs that are fable-like and also songs that are so real I cringe when I listen to some of the lyrics.  Callahan has a certain bold power; he is able to admit things that others would be too afraid of, and he sings about it all without even slightly cringing.  When I imagine him in my mind, singing these intimate songs with a straight face and a voice devoid of much emotion, he's a staid soldier at attention with his gloved hand tucked into the breast of his brass buttoned uniform.  It's lovely and brave.
bill callahan live smog
I saw Bill Callahan play this Sunday night.  His voice has grown so much deeper even than before.  It's more confident and he seems even more comfortable with himself and his songs, which would make sense since, after all, he's an artist and artists develop and grow with time.  Callahan's first album came out in 1990!  He's been at this a very long time, and only gets better.  He mostly played tracks from his newest album Woke On A Whaleheart, but for me the showstopper (as it has been for the last couple of years since he's been playing it) was "Rock Bottom Riser", from his 2004 album A River Ain't Too Much To Love.  It's another almost painfully real song, exceptionally and austerely delivered.  It was a great show.
smog knock knock bill callahan album cover
My favorite Smog record is Knock Knock from 1999.  Whenever I hear the song called "Let's Move To the Country", I just wanna drop everything, grab a blanket and run outside so I can lay in the sun and contemplate leaving everything behind and making a fresh start somewhere far from everything else.  Again, the tune is really transporting for me.  Callahan's songs bring up images and stories and ideas that are timeless but he writes about them in ways that seem different than how anyone else has ever done it before, and sometimes they are even a bit shocking, like in the song "Dress Sexy At My Funeral" from Dongs of Sevotion, another of my favorites.   Here is a performance of that song:

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Here is what we have on...4/24

Posted by Brad Schelden, April 23, 2007 10:05pm | Post a Comment
Some really great albums come out today. One of my favorites gets reissued today. "Quique"  by Seefeel gets reissued today in a delux "redux" edition by Too Pure. This album was originally released in 1993 by that same label. It has been out of print for years and very hard to find. Since I sold my own copy years ago, I am very happy to see it coming back into print. I managed to resist those high prices on Ebay and hoped that it would some day be reissued.  And with a whole extra disc of bonus tracks. The reissue includes the original tracks:

Climactic Phase 3, Polyfusion, Industrious, Imperial, Plainsong, Charlotte's Mouth, Through You, Filter Dub and Signals.

and the tracks on the bonus disc are:

Clique, Is it Now?, Filter Dub (Low Pass Remix) [or Filter Dub (1-01 Mix), Come Alive (Climactic Phase #1), Time To Find Me (Alternate Desk Mix),  Charlotte's Mouth (Avant Garde Mix), My Super 20, Climactic Phase #3 (Overnight Mix) and Silent Pool.

This album came out at a pivotal time for techno and ambient music. Seefeel provided the perfect bridge for me to get into techno. I had been listening to lots of shoegaze music like Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, and My Bloody Valentine. This album had the feeling of those albums but also with a brand new exciting feel to it. The guitars were not as loud and the music had a soothing ambient feel to it. The vocals were not the focus and many songs were simply instrumental. The amazing "Polyfusia," a compilation of earlier eps was released the next year in 1994. Seefeel formed in 1992 in London. The band is made of of Mark Clifford, Sarah Peacock, Justin Fletcher, and Daren Seymour. After the band signed to Warp in 1994, their sound became even more electronic as the guitars disappeared.

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