7 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

As Smog and as himself, Bill Callahan writes and records subtle, flat-toned tunes that are dryly hilarious. Lyrics come first for Callahan and listening straight through a handful of his songs, it’s apparent that he has a thirst for words and concepts. Apocalypse plays to his strengths. “Drover” begins as a faux-Western. The chords build dramatically. A fiddle saws until the music falls away and it weeps. “America!” plays as word-association, with Callahan sounding like he’s messing around on the guitar absent-mindedly while the rhythm section takes an occasional break that leads to an over-caffeinated ending with everyone celebrating so hard they trip over themselves. “Universal Applicant” throws a flute into the mix. Recorded and mixed in Texas, Apocalypse prominently reflects the great sprawling real estate of that state with pauses and leisurely paces in nearly every tune. “Free’s” clocks in at a punchy 3:13, but the others are all over five minutes. There’s nothing indulgent here. Every moment deserves to be heard. The album ends with “One Fine Morning,” a beautifully expansive piece that is reminiscent of the great works of Van Morrison.

EDITORS’ NOTES

As Smog and as himself, Bill Callahan writes and records subtle, flat-toned tunes that are dryly hilarious. Lyrics come first for Callahan and listening straight through a handful of his songs, it’s apparent that he has a thirst for words and concepts. Apocalypse plays to his strengths. “Drover” begins as a faux-Western. The chords build dramatically. A fiddle saws until the music falls away and it weeps. “America!” plays as word-association, with Callahan sounding like he’s messing around on the guitar absent-mindedly while the rhythm section takes an occasional break that leads to an over-caffeinated ending with everyone celebrating so hard they trip over themselves. “Universal Applicant” throws a flute into the mix. Recorded and mixed in Texas, Apocalypse prominently reflects the great sprawling real estate of that state with pauses and leisurely paces in nearly every tune. “Free’s” clocks in at a punchy 3:13, but the others are all over five minutes. There’s nothing indulgent here. Every moment deserves to be heard. The album ends with “One Fine Morning,” a beautifully expansive piece that is reminiscent of the great works of Van Morrison.

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