Bill Callahan can be rather sombre at times, so you’d be forgiven for expecting an LP of his entitled ‘Apocalypse’ to be full of doomy folk musings. However, this 2011 collection is in fact a relatively upbeat set from The Artist Formerly Known As Smog. I mean, it's not the Beach Boys or anything, but there is an air of quiet contentedness, even playfulness, to the gentle rock roll of tracks like ‘America!’.
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Bill Callahan very rarely disappoints and 'Apocalypse' is not likely to dissuade me from the belief that he's one of America's finest singer/songwriters. You'll be pleased and not particularly surprised to hear that this is another solid collection of songs from Mr. Smogman. It's a livelier collection than last years rather somber yet completely ingenious 'Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle' but 'Apocalypse' makes up for it by taking chances both musically and in it's delivery to tape. Opener 'Drover' is littered with odd percussive sounds and smatterings of instruments not often heard on Callahan/Smog recordings. This makes for a refreshing change of tone whilst fulfilling Callahan's obligation to write consistently excellent music. The fact that these tracks have been committed-to-tape with an ensemble band explains why 'Apocalypse' appears so textured and inventive in it's excecution and, with Callahan at the helm (also credited as producer here) it's unlikely anything's going to go wrong. Perfect voice, great music and enough surprises to impress on first listen - what more could you ask for? No wonder so many artists are still trying to get in on his vibe. Can't wait to get this one out of the workplace and into a more appropriate setting for enjoying.
10/10 Laura Fraser 29th April 2014
The music in this album is based on the most basic acoustic guitar strumming. With the steadiest baritone Bill tells me story after story, unhurried. I love to listen to his stories. I think I'm in love with him a little bit.
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