American singer-songwriter Bill Callahan, also known as ‘Smog’ has written one of the year’s best albums. ‘Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle’ is effortlessly brilliant, Callahan’s emotive, baritone voice and deep, personal lyrics hang on repetitive drum beats and flotsam melodies, at times warped (‘Invocation of Ratiocination’), always beautiful. Tracks such as ‘Faith-Void’ and ‘My Friend’ usher in a new era in late-evening listening. At once uplifting and introverted ‘Sometimes…’ is a display of an artist at the peak of his talents and is not to be missed.
Pop tarts the Pet Shop Boys are a Triassic period duo that just won’t give up the goat. They’ve had some memorable hits, cast your wilting mind back to the 1980s (yes you’re old now) and you may recollect the camp disco of ‘Always on my Mind’ and ‘It’s a Sin’ amongst other soft-tone ticklers played to the backdrop of VDOs of keyboards spinning through space and lots and lots of black gloves. Expect no grand departure here, but more simplistic pop from past masters in dark shades and oversized pants. Newcomers beware; this is definitely one for PSB’s hardcore fan-base.
Guillermo Scott Herren has certainly got the impulse to produce beats; he’s clocked up sixteen releases under the moniker of Prefuse 73 since 2001, each variable in quality and concept. On ‘…Ampexian’, Herren opts for one-minute wonder tracks and ties them together with consistent melodic inputs and scantily clad vocals, but the tracks don’t quite blend and sound more akin to rabid sneezes of a quarantined mongrel than the snappy spasms of a techno-baron. Disunity aside, the listener is in safe hands when it comes to energy and creativity and Prefuse makes these short tracks crack and sparkle, albeit within a vacuous whole.