Getting The Spins: Smog – Knock Knock

(Drag City, 1999)

I’m a Bill Callahan fan–although, I have to say I’m not super familiar with his vast catalog. What I do know is that Knock Knock is a phenomenal record, worthy of any occasion. Like a lot of people, my first exposure to Smog came though 2000’s High Fidelity, which featured “Cold Blooded Old Times.” It’s an upbeat, chugging rock song with a black heart, as Callahan lobs a barrage of lyrical darts about an abusive relationship and the affects it has on a child. Of course, Callahan has the voice to make those words really sting. Musically Knock Knock is essentially a folk record with lots of layers–children’s choirs, horns, fuzz guitars–and essentially a lot of the creature comforts of ’90s indie rock. And just look at the cover for chrissakes. If I saw that sleeve, knowing absolutely nothing about the artist, I’d assume it was either the worst band in the world, or the greatest. Smog is neither. But when I put on this record, it’s definitely the greatest experience in the world.