Uncut - 12/02, p.1293 stars out of 5
- "...Future generations may come to rank Callahan as the unflinching, poetic equal of Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 12/02, p.132
"...Compelling....A mosaic of sinister greatness..."
Personnel: Bill Callahan (vocals); Andy Hopkins (guitar); Jim O'Rourke (piano); Rian Murphy (drums).
Besides Pavement, (Smog) is one of the indie rock acts most overdue for a B-sides collection -- it seems that Bill Callahan always saves at least one or two of his best songs for his singles and EPs, some of which are surprisingly hard to find even for die-hard fans. In theory, at least, the B-sides comp Accumulation: None should appease collectors and completists who missed out on some of (Smog)'s rarer tracks, particularly the ones that were only released on import 7"s. In reality, though, the collection is slightly disappointing, mostly because it includes only a dozen tracks. Granted, some of these tracks are among the hardest to find and most sought-after in Callahan's body of work, such as "Astronaut," which comes from the My Shell 7"; "Floating" and "Hole in the Heart" from the Floating EP; and "Real Live Dress," which is from the Australian tour-only Manta Rays of Time EP. However, collecting just 12 of these rarities just whets the appetite for more: "A Hit," which is one of (Smog)'s best and catchiest singles from the Wild Love era, is a welcome inclusion, but its B-side, the Callahan/Cynthia Dall duet "Wine-Stained Lips," is sorely missed. Likewise, several other tracks from Manta Rays of Time, like the cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back," would also be perfect on this collection. Likewise, the Peel sessions versions of "I Break Horses" and "Chosen One" are great but just leave the listener wanting more. And though it's understandable that tracks from Burning Kingdom, 'Neath the Puke Tree, and Kicking a Couple Around wouldn't be represented here since each of those EPs is still relatively easy to find, singles such as the excellent Look Now are nowhere to be found on Accumulation: None. Nitpicking aside, however, this collection does feature some of Callahan's best B-sides, including "Little Girl Shoes" from the Ex-Con EP, as well as "Spanish Moss" and "Came Blue" from the Hausmusik 7". The inclusion of a new track, the accomplished "White Ribbon," bodes well for (Smog)'s 2003 album and, as with the entire collection, leaves the listener wanting to hear more. Though a sense of longing is always expressed in Callahan's music, a collection of his work shouldn't leave his fans longing for more as much as Accumulation: None does. Considering Drag City's efforts to reissue (Smog)'s earliest recordings, such as the Cow tracks that were added to the Strayed EP, here's to hoping that they make more of his later but still obscure work easier for fans to enjoy. ~ Heather Phares