» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
A River Ain't Too Much to Love
Drag City Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

July 1, 2005
If I were a petty person, I would be pissed at Drag City right now. The label, which has been one of my favorites for the past 5 years, advertised a job opening (which you've probably seen if you have been to their site in the last two months) which I totally went for. I didn't get it and I watched my indie snob dream job go down the drain.

With this bias, I picked up Smog's latest release vowing not to be won over, but A River Ain't Too Much To Love is too damn good.

Long-time Drag Citizen Smog (AKA Bill Callahan) has been producing consistently weird music at the steady pace of about an album a year for over a decade. Callahan's brand of off-key poetics and minimalist instrumentation is sometimes touching and sometimes pretentious. The 2003 release Supper came off as evidence of the latter due to its druggy guitar work and dense, funky ballads, the likes of which a Rhodes Scholar wouldn't be able to dissect.

Putting such silliness behind him though, Smog is reborn with A River Ain't Too Much To Love. Everything about this album is quieter and more subdued than previous outings, and Callahan's voice is eminently better served in this capacity. Not really singing and not really speaking, his voice gives a greater meaning to Jim White's shushed drums and the occasional guitar strum. Songs like "In the Pines" and "I'm New Here" don't have many notes to them, but Smog squeezes the juice out of every second of the album.

The theme of water that the title refers to is an additional grace; Callahan's songs about rivers, dams and wells are nothing short of elegant: "Bury me in wood and I will splinter/Bury me in stone and I will quake/Bury me in water and I will geyser/Bury me in fire and I'm gonna phoenix." Careful not to take himself too seriously, Callahan sings in "The Well," "I guess everybody has their own thing they yell into a well/I gave it a couple of hoots, a hello/and a 'fuck all y'all.'" Lyrics like these aren't meant for amateurs, and only a few people can pull off this borderline poetry without sounding pompous - namely the Drag City crew (i.e. Will Oldham, David Berman, Alasdair Roberts, Joanna Newsom, etc.).

No matter how good it is, fifty minutes of pseudo-spoken-word can also be a bummer. Thankfully the album's closer, "Let Me See the Colts," has a bit more meat to it: steady drumming and guitar crescendos that don't compromise the delicacy of Callahan's lyrics about sleeping horses.

A River Ain't Too Much To Love has more in common with great books than it does with great rock albums; it's intelligent, introspective, sensitive and best experienced in a very quiet place. Unless he accepts a Writer-In-Residence position at UVA, there's nothing, even bias, stopping Smog from making yet another heartbreaking work of staggering genius.

Reviewed by Andy Brown
A regular contributor to LAS, Andy Brown lives in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but doesn\'t think he has an accent.

See other reviews by Andy Brown



If you'd like to help spread the word about LAS, or simply want to outfit yourself with some adhesive coolness, our 4" circle LAS stickers are sure to hit the spot, and here is how to get them:

--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.


LAS has staff and freelance writers spread across North and South America, Europe, and a few in Southeast Asia as well. As such, we have no central mailing adress for unsolicited promotional material. If you are interested in having your project considered for coverage, please contact us before sending any promotional materials - save yourself time and postage!