Smog - Rock Bottom Riser EP
After the mixed reviews of Bill Callaghan's previous Smog album, "A River Ain't Too Much", this is a bit of an odd release. This EP collects two songs from that album, a couple of new songs and some multimedia content of two videos.
The truth is that Callaghan’s music always divides opinion. His peculiar take on Americana has been described as dull, ponderous and boring but, in my opinion, it's his spin on this genre that makes him interesting. The arrangements are very sparse; his deep growl of a voice given a chance to breathe and resonate in a way that frees lyrics so you can actually concentrate on the stories he's telling.
With Rock Bottom Riser we have a good example of all sides of the Smog argument. A simple acoustic strum and gentle brush drumming with gentle piano accompaniment is second to his vocals. The lyrics recount the age old tale of the black sheep of the family who can do no right, no matter how hard they try. As a choice for a single it's a little odd and it's actually the other songs on here that are worth getting the EP for.
I Feel Like The Mother Of The World is one of the highlights from the album, it's a beautiful and soulful song full of emotion and is surprisingly haunting. Bowery is a more straightforward tale of families but there's more going on than other tracks here; acoustic and electric guitars are flowing through it whilst Callaghan's voice sounds like something from "The Grapes of Wrath" until modern life judders in as your realise that the father of the tale has died of a methadone overdose. The final track Fools Lament is a country ditty which positively bounces around by Callaghan's standards and would act as a perfect soundtrack to these warm summer evenings.
So, rather than being an essential purchase then, this is a release that would act as good starting place for Smog's weird Americana that always strikes me as place worthy of a visit.
View the rather odd and yet strangely beautiful animated video for 'Rock Bottom Riser':
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