🎵 How Good Are They Really 🎵 Bill Callahan

Well well well…

Fuck Buttons break the 4 mark:

Artist Rating
Aretha Franklin 4.64
Nina Simone 4.57
A Tribe Called Quest 4.56
Kraftwerk 4.50
Neil Young 4.48
Talk Talk 4.46
Miles Davis 4.42
Alice Coltrane 4.42
Talking Heads 4.39
R.E.M. 4.38
John Coltrane 4.37
Beastie Boys 4.36
Scott Walker 4.36
Otis Redding 4.34
The Velvet Underground 4.33
The Temptations 4.32
David Bowie 4.31
The Beatles 4.31
Leonard Cohen 4.30
Pixies 4.30
Boards Of Canada 4.28
The Cure 4.28
Björk 4.27
Mogwai 4.24
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 4.22
Fugazi 4.21
Marvin Gaye 4.21
Tom Waits 4.20
Johnny Cash 4.19
Aphex Twin 4.18
PJ Harvey 4.17
Stevie Wonder 4.17
Four Tet 4.17
Nirvana 4.15
Joy Division 4.15
Radiohead 4.13
The Supremes 4.13
Minutemen 4.12
The Four Tops 4.12
Pavement 4.12
Cocteau Twins 4.11
Prince 4.11
Wu-Tang Clan 4.11
Orbital 4.11
Dinosaur Jr. 4.11
Jason Molina 4.10
De La Soul 4.10
Nick Drake 4.10
The Stooges 4.10
Elliott Smith 4.09
Yo La Tengo 4.09
Pulp 4.08
Sleater-Kinney 4.08
Sonic Youth 4.08
Public Enemy 4.08
Slowdive 4.07
Kate Bush 4.07
OutKast 4.07
Burial 4.07
Autechre 4.06
Godspeed You! Black Emperor 4.03
Black Sabbath 4.03
Portishead 4.03
Super Furry Animals 4.03
Fuck Buttons 4.03
Joanna Newsom 4.02
Mclusky 4.02
Simon & Garfunkel 4.02
Sufjan Stevens 4.01
MF DOOM 4.01
My Bloody Valentine 4.01
The Knife 4.01
Run The Jewels 4.00
Sharon Van Etten 4.00
The Roots 4.00
New Order 3.99
Frightened Rabbit 3.97
Bob Dylan 3.97
Kendrick Lamar 3.97
Wilco 3.97
Robyn 3.96
Low 3.96
Grandaddy 3.96
Built To Spill 3.94
Sigur Rós 3.93
The Beach Boys 3.93
Jimi Hendrix 3.93
Depeche Mode 3.93
LCD Soundsystem 3.92
Arab Strap 3.91
Joni Mitchell 3.89
Janelle Monáe 3.89
Massive Attack 3.89
The Twilight Sad 3.88
Frank Ocean 3.86
Spiritualized 3.85
Bruce Springsteen 3.84
Future Of The Left 3.84
Deftones 3.84
Siouxsie & The Banshees 3.83
Lou Reed 3.83
Guided By Voices 3.82
Underworld 3.82
At The Drive-In 3.82
The Kinks 3.82
The Jesus And Mary Chain 3.82
Deerhunter 3.81
Fucked Up 3.80
Run-D.M.C. 3.78
Young Fathers 3.78
The Clash 3.77
Dolly Parton 3.77
Pet Shop Boys 3.76
Modest Mouse 3.76
Trail Of Dead 3.76
Hüsker Dü 3.74
Blondie 3.73
Bright Eyes 3.71
Rage Against The Machine 3.71
Nine Inch Nails 3.70
The Walkmen 3.70
The Avalanches 3.69
The National 3.68
Paul Simon 3.68
M.I.A. 3.68
The Ramones 3.67
Spacemen 3 3.67
ABBA 3.66
Fiona Apple 3.66
Neutral Milk Hotel 3.66
Soundgarden 3.66
Kanye West 3.65
Solange 3.65
Cat Power 3.65
Arcade Fire 3.64
Mercury Rev 3.63
Tricky 3.62
Blur 3.61
The Magnetic Fields 3.61
N.W.A. 3.61
Beck 3.59
Elvis Costello 3.59
Hope Of The States 3.58
The Smiths 3.57
Sea Power 3.56
65daysofstatic 3.56
WHY? 3.56
Sunn O))) 3.55
Beyoncé 3.54
Yeah Yeah Yeahs 3.54
Mew 3.54
Flying Lotus 3.54
Charli XCX 3.53
Eels 3.52
Half Man Half Biscuit 3.52
Carly Rae Jepsen 3.51
Roxy Music 3.51
Mastodon 3.51
Daft Punk 3.50
The Hold Steady 3.50
The Chemical Brothers 3.49
Jimmy Eat World 3.49
Explosions In The Sky 3.49
Bob Marley & The Wailers 3.48
Jeff Buckley 3.47
Teenage Fanclub 3.47
Wild Beasts 3.47
The Flaming Lips 3.46
The Cribs 3.46
Hot Chip 3.44
Bon Iver 3.43
Idlewild 3.42
The Fall 3.42
George Michael 3.41
Black Flag 3.41
Madonna 3.40
Manic Street Preachers 3.39
Fleetwood Mac 3.39
Queens Of The Stone Age 3.39
Big Thief 3.39
The Postal Service 3.38
The Notorious B.I.G. 3.37
TV On The Radio 3.37
The Cooper Temple Clause 3.37
The Go! Team 3.36
Toots & The Maytals 3.35
The White Stripes 3.34
George Harrison 3.34
Paul McCartney 3.33
Supergrass 3.32
Dr. Dre 3.32
Leftfield 3.32
Sepultura 3.32
Hole 3.31
Squarepusher 3.31
Iggy Pop 3.31
The Decemberists 3.31
The Smashing Pumpkins 3.30
Suede 3.30
Steely Dan 3.29
Misfits 3.29
Elton John 3.28
The Pogues 3.28
Kylie Minogue 3.27
The Specials 3.26
Vampire Weekend 3.26
Doves 3.26
Richard Hawley 3.25
Death Cab For Cutie 3.24
Laura Marling 3.24
James Brown 3.23
Sugababes 3.22
Thin Lizzy 3.22
Hall & Oates 3.21
Rihanna 3.19
The Prodigy 3.18
Led Zeppelin 3.16
Ash 3.16
The Streets 3.16
Pink Floyd 3.15
Pearl Jam 3.15
Motörhead 3.15
Taylor Swift 3.14
Jay-Z 3.14
Arctic Monkeys 3.14
Goldfrapp 3.14
Gorillaz 3.13
Snoop Dogg 3.13
Interpol 3.12
TLC 3.12
Lana Del Rey 3.11
Los Campesinos! 3.10
Nas 3.10
The Rolling Stones 3.09
St. Vincent 3.09
Animal Collective 3.07
T. Rex 3.07
Iron Maiden 3.06
Placebo 3.06
The Charlatans 3.06
Destiny’s Child 3.05
HAIM 3.05
Primal Scream 3.04
The Divine Comedy 3.04
Everything Everything 3.04
The Strokes 3.03
Elvis Presley 3.02
System Of A Down 3.02
Wolf Alice 3.01
AC/DC 3.00
Frank Zappa 3.00
Duran Duran 3.00
The Bee Gees 2.99
Art Brut 2.99
Weezer 2.97
Grimes 2.96
Garbage 2.96
Amy Winehouse 2.95
Girls Aloud 2.93
Frank Sinatra 2.92
2Pac 2.91
Elbow 2.91
The Stone Roses 2.90
The Doors 2.89
Franz Ferdinand 2.89
The Mars Volta 2.89
Ariana Grande 2.88
Tool 2.88
The Coral 2.88
Paramore 2.88
Lizzo 2.86
Happy Mondays 2.86
Feeder 2.86
Belle And Sebastian 2.85
Britney Spears 2.85
The Horrors 2.84
Metallica 2.81
Green Day 2.81
Madness 2.80
Slipknot 2.80
James 2.78
Foals 2.76
The Jam 2.75
Basement Jaxx 2.75
Alanis Morissette 2.75
Miley Cyrus 2.73
John Lennon 2.73
Oasis 2.71
Whitney Houston 2.69
The Verve 2.67
Fatboy Slim 2.67
Slayer 2.65
The Sex Pistols 2.63
Faithless 2.63
The Levellers 2.63
Lady Gaga 2.61
Queen 2.60
The Police 2.59
Billy Joel 2.57
Foo Fighters 2.57
U2 2.55
My Chemical Romance 2.54
Justin Timberlake 2.52
The Maccabees 2.52
Editors 2.51
Little Mix 2.49
Biffy Clyro 2.48
Dire Straits 2.43
The Beautiful South 2.43
Meat Loaf 2.43
Bloc Party 2.41
Linkin Park 2.41
Cher 2.40
Michael Jackson 2.39
Eminem 2.38
Mariah Carey 2.32
Jamie T 2.32
Coldplay 2.31
IDLES 2.29
The 1975 2.28
Rancid 2.26
Guns N’ Roses 2.26
Travis 2.25
The Killers 2.22
The Who 2.22
Blink-182 2.21
Muse 2.20
Robbie Williams 2.20
Katy Perry 2.18
Panic! At The Disco 2.16
Bon Jovi 2.11
No Doubt 2.10
Christina Aguilera 2.09
Paul Weller 2.09
The Offspring 2.08
Usher 2.08
Moby 2.06
Ringo Starr 2.06
Adele 2.05
Aerosmith 2.03
Korn 2.03
Drake 2.02
Kings Of Leon 2.01
Bryan Adams 2.00
The Libertines 1.99
Celine Dion 1.99
Fall Out Boy 1.96
Red Hot Chili Peppers 1.90
The Eagles 1.86
McFly 1.85
Limp Bizkit 1.82
The Spice Girls 1.81
Take That 1.76
Stereophonics 1.74
Busted 1.74
Razorlight 1.74
KISS 1.73
Morrissey 1.69
Kasabian 1.57
Ed Sheeran 1.29

Thread number 348 then;

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

0 voters

1 Like

Smog albums:

  • Sewn To The Sky
  • Forgotten Foundation
  • Julius Caesar
  • Wild Love
  • The Doctor Came At Dawn
  • Red Apple Falls
  • Knock Knock
  • Dongs Of Sevotion
  • Rain On Lens
  • Supper
  • A River Ain’t Too Much To Love

0 voters

Bill Callahan albums:

  • Woke On A Whaleheart
  • Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle
  • Apocalypse
  • Dream River
  • Have Fun With God
  • Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest
  • Gold Record

0 voters

Huge love for him even though I actually only know a fraction of his back catalogue. But what know I know really well from playing it to death.

Seen him live a couple of times and it was minimal and really enchanting.



Only know a little, like what I do. My band covered him once on my old place of residence years ago now


Exceptional up to, and definitely including, Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle. Knock Knock is one of my favourite albums of all time.

IMHO everything since has been insufferably dull. His show at the Royal Festival Hall on the Dream River tour is the only time I’ve fallen asleep at a gig.


Sums it up pretty perfectly. Listened to the two newest albums a lot in the month or so after release desperately trying to find a way in and then something else catches my attention and I’ve never gone back to them. They’ve felt like he’s lost his focus a bit, very rambly. You could probably cobble together a good album out of the best bits though.

But aye, so good before then. SIWWAE probably his career best for me.

1 Like

Not explored Smog too much beyond the big hitters. A River Ain’t Too Much Love is brilliant. His self titled stuff fell off a cliff after Apocalypse, but what I heard of the last lot of songs was decent enough. Remains the only gig I’ve ever fallen asleep in, snap @weeber (RFH 2014 I think). Was bad at Green Man that year as well. Insufferably boring.

A couple of favs

Could be the soundtrack to a Cormac McCarthy novel.


Massive fan from Wild Love to Supper and even went back to and enjoyed the very lo-fi first 3 albums. Took against A River because I really disliked one specific track. I got over it at some point and think the rest of the album is great but it sort of broke my interest in him so I’ve never bothered listening to his BC material. Happy just to have loved the Smog days and return to it occasionally, always ace when I do.

A couple of great E.P’s as well as others have highlighted.

5 for the Smog days.

Very easy 5. Similar to David Berman he just has that way of saying something that on the face of it can seem so simple but can leave you thinking about it for weeks. He can also back it up with some sublime songwriting.

There will be lots of great posts about the great stuff in his prime, so thought I would post a couple of tracks from later albums:


5/5 for sometimes I wish I were an eagle
2/5 for most of the rest of his crap

3/5 then

EDIT - Mother Of The World is good too

That’s a FIVE please funky.


Yeah scoring is tricky…

Someone with that number of absolutely genius songs should be a nailed on 5.

But the ratio of great songs to snoozers isn’t that impressive and looks like its heading in a negative direction so… 4?

Amazing having so many great great albums like Wild Love and Doctor Came at Dawn that don’t get a single vote cos they’re overshadowed by Knock Knock. They would be career highlights for so many other bands.

Smog is one of the many many bands i got into when i was doing my teacher training and the guy whose form i was attached to made me a c90. Held was the song that started side 2 and made me wish out and buy knock knock. What a song, what a record.


Also i made a little best of playlist recently if anyone wants a listen. Almost exclusively smog though



A 5, all day long. Bloody love Bill, even the less interesting later BC albums embrace me in a warmth I don’t get from many artists.

A River Ain’t Too Much To Love will ALWAYS hold a special place in my heart as I received my copy the day my first daughter was born, so it accompanied me on my journeys to and from the hospital. I’ll always associate it with a special time in my life.

I was also at that RFH gig, and yeah, it wasn’t the best. But I have seen him on several other occasions and it’s been a joy.


Agree on all of this, there’s so much stuff (like with will oldham) that i don’t care for at all BUT the stuff i love is so so so good that i can’t mark him down from a 5.


One of the best songwriters ever imo.
Easy 5.

Only seen him live once. It was on the Dongs Of Sevotion tour, he played the entire album then did a one song encore of River Guard. Thought it was really ballsy and cemented my respect for him.

Picked Knock Knock and Apocalyse as favourite albums, but that could change during the day.

Will post some favourite tracks later.


It’s impossible to know how I’d have coped with the pandemic if his music didn’t exist, but I can pretty confidently say it would have been much worse. Particularly during those days in the endless winter lockdown at the start of 2021, whenever I felt grim or particularly low the solution tended to be to put something by him on my headphones and just float into him.

Winter weather is not my soul,
but the biding for spriiiing

from this near enough turned into a mantra during those days for me

There’s similar moments in my life I can pinpoint in my life where he’s had a similar effect on me - breakups, disappointment, when the exit poll for the 2019 GE came in I just put my phone on airplane mode and listened to Smog for hours reading and drinking wine and had a surprisingly good night as a result. It’s still going (from the rolling thread a couple of weeks ago)

There’s something in the warmth of his voice, and the conversational style of his lyrics that just really does it for me. I think he’s a genius songwriter, especially lyrically - he’s one of those where he can write incredibly clever lyrics and kind of silly ones that still work, and the narrative arc that runs through some of them is brilliant.

I think he’s one of the few musicians I can think of who is genuinely funny in some of his songs - the “Also tell them how I gave to charity…but most of all don’t forget about the time on the beach” on Dress Sexy at My Funeral (probably my favourite song title of all time) is incredible.

Only had good experiences of seeing him live personally, although I can see why he might leave people a bit cold. His little run at Hoxton Hall a few years back was my intro to him and he was incredible, and was also great headlining the Garden Stage at End of the Road after a day of murderous rain.

Love pretty much everything he’s ever done, his last couple haven’t been quite as good but they’re still decent and when he’s been knocking out great albums for 30 years I’ll let him off. Hope he’s still going around for many a year to come, but if he never released anything again I’d still have a lot to thank him for.

Cheers Bill, 5.


These are my two favs which are obviously 5/5 songs but overall score is a 4 as there’s a lot which doesn’t click with me so much. When he’s good, he’s very good.


Funnily, prompted by the escalating cost of gigs thread, I’ve just found this ticket. Probably the best time I’ve seen Smog was in an old ballroom off Leicester Square, with short art house films shown between the acts. The late Sean Hughes introduced Bill C with something along the lines of “Fellow miserable bastards, please welcome our leader!”