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Smog - Rain On Lens

  by Andrew Carver

published: 17 / 12 / 2001



Smog - Rain On Lens
Label: Drag City
Format: CD

intro

Yes, you read right — Bill Callahan and his unmerry men are no longer Smog, but (Smog) — what next, Smiley King Smoggy? Fortunately, having thrown this nomenclative curve ball at his loyal listener


Yes, you read right — Bill Callahan and his unmerry men are no longer Smog, but (Smog) — what next, Smiley King Smoggy? Fortunately, having thrown this nomenclative curve ball at his loyal listenership, Callahan and Co. dig in their collective heels and return to the Smog of old — sort of. The kiddie chorus of 'Knock, Knock' is gone. There are no choral shout outs a la 'Dongs of Sevotion.' Callahan’s menacing baritone and vague lyrical threats are there, but the lo-fi pioneer is no more (not that there was much left after his previous two full-lengthers), and nothing here sounds like a first take. Vocally, Callahan is in as fine a form as he’s ever been. Technically, he and his backing musicians are sharper and more rocking than ever — I particularly like the Beefheartian guitar lick of the second song, 'Song', and the heavy, Sabbath-like buzz juxtaposed with keening violin of 'Dirty Pants'. The bleating horns of 'Revanchism' are fun as well. The whole album motors along, aided, for example, by the galloping muted guitar, clicking away just behind the other instruments on 'Keep Some Steady Friends', or the surging drums of 'Lazy Rain', the standout track. Callahan hasn’t lost any lyrical skill either: “It’s 6 AM and I’m walking home/While the city twitches/ In a sleep of dog dreams” from 'Lazy Rain' is just one of several winners. He might be a touch more playful this time around — I laughed when I read “I would not let you pee/ on a single bumblebee” on the lyric sheet ... even if 'Short Drive' does appear to be about a cross-country kidnapping. Speaking of rain, this album reminds me somewhat of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 'No More Shall We Part' — the references to rain, and the shadow of a relationship looms over several tracks. Parenthesised or not, this is another fine Smog album. While 'Julius Caesar' is still the best of his early work, I’d point anyone wanting an introduction to the later — by no means inferior — efforts of one of the finest performers around to 'Rain On Lens.'



Track Listing:-
1 Rain On Lens 1
2 Song
3 Natural Decline
4 Keep Some Steady Friends Around
5 Dirty Pants
6 Lazy Rain
7 Short Drive
8 Live As If Someone Is Always Watching You
9 Rain On Lens 2
10 Revanchism


Label Links:-
http://www.dragcity.com/
https://twitter.com/dragcityrecords
https://www.facebook.com/dragcityrecords



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