A horrible hack

Bill Callahan

Eid Ma Clack Shaw (Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle)

Year Released: 0000
Format: CD
Label: Drag City
 
Reviewed by Katie Kennedy on May 8, 2009
Bill Callahan played a pretty big part in my second year of living in Manchester. A River Aint Too Much To Love was probably one of my most listened to albums throughout Ď05 and Ď06 and since then I havenít really given Smog much of a look in, except one notable seven hour overnight bus ride from Sevilla to Madrid a few years back. I wonít forget rolling into the capital while the sun was rising and hearing Callahanís croaky, yet lush voice wailing Rock Bottom Riser.

Iím presuming my lifeís been devoid of Callahan since his last effort in 2007, and Woke on a Whaleheart was entirely to blame. It wasnít under the guise of Smog and letís be frank, it really didnít warm my cockles. It was pretty uneventful and letís be honest, didnít withstand the Kenners test of longevity. I guess my tastes inadvertently moved away from Drag City-esque music without me noticing, and as a result when not listening to hip hop circa Ď93 - Ď95, motown, or sloppy garage punk bands, I started exploring the world of electronic music on a grander scale. Sometimes I think that these days Iíd much prefer to listen to music that sounds like plugs been put into sockets than more than folk/indie, for sure.

I stumbled across the news of his new LP only but a few days ago and decided to give it a gander as was intrigued to hear what he was up to. I guess a part of me didnít want to listen in fear of being disappointed again. Bring back the man who, when listening to Smog LPs, made me want to chain smoke rollies while drinking red wine. Not many acts make me feel that way, Nick Cave is another.

Listening to the record his voice still holds that imperishable bleak Callahan beauty. Tip of the hat to the use of strings used in this album, you really canít go wrong with cellos and violins. Some tracks follow suit to his earlier efforts in Smog; beautiful stories told at an unhurried pace. A lot more upbeat, for real, but you can definitely hear that sultry tone in his voice. Is it naive of me to suggest that track two opens with a blatant rip of Talking Heads? I had to skip onto the next straight away, soz. Negative.

As an introduction to his works you can go no wrong. Itís by no means his best effort, and am not even sure how long itíll stay on my turntable, but it definitely stands out a lot more than his last LP. Vorsprung. Iíd say almost the progression from Smog heís been looking for. I guess I can finally breath that sigh of relief that Callahanís back on track, sort of. Although it must be said that itís really the track All Thoughts Are Prey to Some Beasts that finally nails it for me. Maybe thatís what heís been trying to achieve for the last four years but not quite managed? Well yeah, he does, this song finally brings the music and his voice together. Yíknow, those finer examples of American indie rock slide guitars, subtle chugging and violins, alongside his pounding, wailing voice. Iíd even say there were elements and spouts of Marrís handywork circa The Smiths era, though very subtle that may be.

Alas, when I first saw that the final track was called Faith/Void, I had a chuckle to myself. I thought he was going to be dabbling in some homage to DCís early hardcore outfits. Itís not, in case you were wonderingÖ

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