The Wax Conspiracy

Smog - Burning Kingdom

you don't know any of them, they are total strangers

Smog is Bill Callahan - Bill Callahan is Smog.

Pretty much any time an "indie"/left-of-centre band plays in Australia and hosts rage, they play a song called "My Family" by Smog.
Now, it's not very often that I buy a CD because the big kids are listening to it, but in this particular instance I felt a strange obligation to do so - one that I didn't resist.
I will, however, say in my defence that, a) "My Family" is a pretty good song; and, b) one of those "big kids" was The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne.

Burning Kingdom is an EP that lasts about 20-minutes. This is a good thing because I'm not entirely sure that I could listen to and enjoy a whole Smog album.
The problem - near as I can tell - with Smog CDs isn't that there isn't much variation dynamics-wise - Burning Kingdom is musically varied enough to not sound boring or staid. The problem lies in the sense of isolation & sadness that permeates this and, I'm told, most any other Smog release.
Even the song, "Not Lonely Anymore," which, going by the title alone, you would assume to be a happy song, has an odd feeling of malice, the lyrics giving you the impression that he's no longer lonely because other people are as fucked up as he is. All this manages to belie the somewhat up-beat sound of the song.

Bill Callahan wrote these lyrics:
Drunk on the Stars
I wasn't made for this
You tell yourself
As you button up your coat
Head down to the harbour
And standing on the dock
You're drunk on the stars and the sea air
Tell yourself maybe I should throw it all away
And be a sailor
Cause after all
Your true home is the sea
So you walk down to the water
And a big wave crashes on your feet
I don't like this you say
So you turn around and head back home
To some apartment
On some main street of a pointless town
That you're trying to put on the map
And you sit right down and write a big fat check
To the gas company
You drape your wet socks over the radiator
And you laugh at all the sailors
And you laugh at all the sailors
Freezing on the sea

They should give you an idea as to the stuff that he thinks and writes about.

Also, apparently, Bill Callahan is now married to Chan Marshall, who you might know as Cat Power. That right there's a right cheery marriage.

This review will be as short as the EP. If I decide to add to it, I'll make a point of getting rid of this very disclaimer that I am still writing and you have just read.

don't trust them, they could be unpredictable

Belvedere Jehosophat

Reviewed on Sunday, 6 June 2004

The Wax Conspiracy



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