For years, Bill Callahan performed under the “hazy alias” Smog, said Chris Martins in The Onion. Sparse, lo-fi recordings and dispassionate delivery made him the bard of indie dolor. But on 2007’s Woke on a Whaleheart, the Austin-based songwriter emerged a seemingly changed man, his mood oddly “upbeat,” his lyrics almost sentimental, and the music fuller and warmer to match. Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle, though, is a quiet “return to form.” Lovelorn and a little lost, Callahan has gone back to being bleak, said Brian Howe in Pitchforkmedia.com. His heart broken, he “takes a long hard look at who he is and what he believes at this moment.” What he sees isn’t rosy, but he paints a pretty-sounding picture through pastoral imagery and “the finest, most varied arrangements” of his career. Whether it’s the swell of strings in “Jim Cain” or the “sinuous strains” of “The Wind and the Dove,” the music tends to lighten his heavy load.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
- How 1,000-year lifespans could remake the economy
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why you should absolutely watch this confounding, wonderful World Series
- Rise of the machines
- 10 things you need to know today: October 20, 2014
Subscribe to the Week