An under­-recognized pioneer of the lo­fi revolution, Smog was essentially the alias of one Bill Callahan, an enigmatic singer/songwriter whose odd, fractured music neatly epitomized the tenets and excesses of the home-recording boom. Melancholy, poignant, and self­obsessed, Callahan’s four­track output offered a peepshow view into an insular world of alienation and inner turmoil, his painfully intimate songs ping­ponging wildly through a scrapbook of childhood recollections, failed relationships, bizarre fetishes, and dashed hopes.

Smog debuted in 1988 with the spare, primitive Macrame Gunplay, a cassette­only release issued on Callahan’s own Disaster label. Cow followed in 1989, while three more tapes ­­ A Table Setting, Tired Tape Machine, and Sewn to the Sky ­­ were issued a year later. With 1991’s Floating EP, Smog signed to the Chicago­based indie label Drag City, and with the move began an advancement toward more traditional songcraft. The subsequent full­length, Forgotten Foundation, was his most well­rounded effort yet, employing a stronger sense of melody while remaining true to the trademark bare­bones atmosphere.

Released in 1993, the superb Julius Caesar raised the stakes considerably. Recorded with collaborators Cynthia Dall and Jim O’Rourke, the album expanded the Smog palette to include touches of cello, violin, and even banjo. At the same time, Callahan’s songs were his best yet; highlighted by the touching “Chosen One” and the menacing “Your Wedding,” Julius Caesar also featured “I Am Star Wars!,” a hilarious rant built around a tape loop of the intro to the Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women.” The six­track Burning Kingdom EP appeared the following year.

Issued in 1995, Wild Love continued Smog’s approach toward relative sonic grandeur. Led off by the remarkable “Bathysphere” (its title a fitting metaphor for Callahan’s self­absorption) and climaxed by the epic “Prince Alone in the Studio” (a virtual theme song for a solitary creative existence), the LP reflected his bitter obsessions with stunning clarity, emerging as a triumph of abject failure. After 1996’s Kicking a Couple Around EP, Smog resurfaced later in the year with The Doctor Came at Dawn; Red Apple Falls followed in 1997.

The peripatetic Callahan relocated to Chicago prior to the release of 1999’s Knock Knock, resurfacing in the spring of 2000 with Dongs of Sevotion and the Strayed EP. ‘Neath the Puke Tree followed that fall, an EP that reinvented several tracks and included a few new ones. By the next year, Callahan changed his project’s name to the more intimate (Smog), drawing attention away from the “idea” of Smog and putting more emphasis on the music. The next album, Rain on Lens, followed on this path by unveiling several more reflective and sensitive tracks. A year later, the Accumulation: None singles collection arrived with five new songs and the continued use of parentheses. Classically voluble, Callahan returned with Supper in 2003. The literary, laid­back A River Ain’t Too Much to Love ­­ which reflected Callahan’s move to Austin, Texas and featured performances by Drag City label-mate Joanna Newsom ­­ arrived in 2005.


Smog A River Ain’t Too Much to Love

Say Valley Maker
The Well
Rock Bottom Riser
I Feel Like the Mother of the World
In the Pines
Drinking at the Dam
Running the Loping
I'm New Here
Let Me see the Colts

Smog Supper

Feather By Feather
Butterflies Drowned In Wine
Vessel In Vain
Truth Serum
Our Anniversary
A Guiding Light

Smog Accumulation: None

A Hit
Spanish Moss
Chosen One
Real Live Dress
Came Blue
Little Girl Shoes
Cold Blooded Old Times
White Ribbon
I Break Horses
Hole in the Heart

Smog Rain On Lens

Rain on Lens 1
Natural Decline
Keep Some Steady Friends Around
Dirty Pants
Lazy Rain
Short Drive
Live As If Someone Is Always Watching You
Rain On Lens 2

Smog ‘Neath the Puke Tree

I Was a Stranger
Your Sweet Entrance
A Jar of Sand
Orion Obscured By Stars

Smog Dongs Of Sevotion

Justice Aversion
Dress Sexy At My Funeral
The Hard Road
Easily Led
Cold Discovery
Permanent Smile

Smog Knock Knock

Let's Move to the Country
River Guard
No Dancing
Teenage Spaceship
Cold Blooded Old Times
Sweet Treat
Hit the Ground Running
I Could Drive Forever
Left Only With Love

Smog Red Apple Falls

The Morning Paper
Blood Red Bird
Red Apples
I Was a Stranger
To Be of Use
Red Apple Falls
Finer Days

Smog The Doctor Came At Dawn

You Moved In
Somewhere In The Night
Spread Your Bloody Wings
Carmelite Light
Everything You Touch Becomes a Crutch
All Your Women Things
Whistling Teapot (Rag)
Four Hearts in a Can
Hangman Blues

Smog Kicking A Couple Around

Your New Friend
Back in School
I Break Horses
The Orange Glow of a Stranger's Living Room

Smog Sewn to the Sky

Souped Up II
Kings Tongue
Hollow Out Cakes
Confederate Bills and Pinball Slugs
Coconut Cataract
Fruit Bats
Peach Pit
Russian Winter
Polio Shimmy
Lost My Key
Fried Piper
Puritan Work Ethic
A Jar of Sand
I Want to Tell You About a Man
Olive Drab Spectre
The Weightlifter

Smog Wild Love

Wild Love
Sweet Smog Children
Bathroom Floor
The Emperor
Limited Capacity
It's Rough
Sleepy Joe
The Candle
Be Hit
Prince Alone in the Studio
Goldfish Bowl

Smog Burning Kingdom

My Shell (Electric Version)
Renée Died
My Family
Drunk On The Stairs
Not Lonely Anymore
The Desert

Smog Julius Caesar

Strawberry Rash
Your Wedding
37 Push Ups
Stalled On The Tracks
One Less Star
When You Walk
I Am Star Wars!
When The Power Goes Out
Chosen One
What Kind Of Angel
Stick In The Mud

Smog Forgotten Foundation

Burning Kingdom
High School Freak
Your Dress
Barometric Pressure
Guitar Innovator
Evil Tyrant
Head of Stone I
Head of Stone II
Long Gray Hair
Kiss Your Lips
Bad Ideas for Country Songs I
Bad Ideas for Country Songs II
Dead River
Bad Investment
Brown Bag
Let Me Have That Jar Back
This Insane Cop
97th Street
Do the Bed
I'm Smiling
With a Green Complexion