Smog - Knock Knock LP
(Drag City, 1999)
Often considered the best album Bill Callahan ever released under his Smog moniker, 1999’s Knock Knock is at least the most fully formed Smog album. It is also the last of Callahan’s four collaborations with Chicago-born producer and multi-instrumentalist, Jim O’Rourke. With O’Rourke, Callahan began to edge away from some of his earlier indulgences in lo-fi and experimental recording, and found a new way to showcase his ever-deepening baritone and alternately (sometimes simultaneously) playful and heartbreaking lyricism.
Knock Knock is in some ways the beginning of the end for “Smog,” as it is the first time we got a somewhat clearer glimpse of the distinguished and reclusive songwriter that Bill Callahan would become. He’s one of the best there is, and if you’ve never heard him, Knock Knock is an excellent place to start.