Wed, Nov. 4, 9pm EST - 'Red Apple Falls' by Smog

The majority of this album is neither loud nor upbeat, from both a tempo and lyrical standpoint. It's primarily soft, slow and forlorn (perhaps that is why I love it so).  The instrumentation is minimal and any sort of guitar wizardry is completely absent. Does that mean it has little to offer? Of course not. Listen to the first track, "The Morning Paper", and you'll too be drawn into the fictional town of Red Apple Falls.  

Bill Callahan, who records under the moniker Smog, penned this concept album in first person. He presents deep and mournful stories of the empty and ultimately strained relationship between him and a widow. Revelations of his former deviant self, now in a new town unaware of his sketchy past, weave through the two upbeat (tempo-wise) songs on the album in "I Was A Stranger" and "Ex-Con". Encouragement to break free from bad situations and fantasies of being selfless do show signs of positivity ("Inspirational" and "To Be Of Use"), but overall the main character is presented throughout the album in a light more akin to the wounded bird crying in the woods outside his window "weeping into dead leaves, with wing torn and jutting bone" ("Blood Red Bird"). 

Despite the melancholy overtones of Red Apple Falls, the album does not come across as depressing. Instead it seems hopeful. And 18 years since its release it still feels fresh every time I listen to it. I look forward to spinning it once again during "Album Night" on Wed., Nov. 4th at 9pm EST. I hope you can join me!

34 comments

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    Here are a few reviews of the album if you want to do some background reading in anticipation of the event, or just want to check them out after the event: http://www.allmusic.com/album/red-apple-falls-mw0000029740 http://web.archive.org/web/20000817174136/http://www.nme.com/reviews/reviews/19980101000877reviews.html http://www.avclub.com/review/smog-emred-apple-fallsem-21416 And here's a video interview too if you're not familiar with Bill Callahan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP-dnrTErM8 See you all on Wednesday at 9!

    Here are a few reviews of the album if you want to do some background reading in anticipation of the event, or just want to check them out after the event:
    http://www.allmusic.com/album/red-apple-falls-mw0000029740
    http://web.archive.org/web/20000817174136/http://www.nme.com/reviews/reviews/19980101000877reviews.html
    http://www.avclub.com/review/smog-emred-apple-fallsem-21416

    And here's a video interview too if you're not familiar with Bill Callahan:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP-dnrTErM8

    See you all on Wednesday at 9!

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    And here is my usual, but important, reminder for the event: ***Please make sure to periodically refresh your browser during the event so you can see all the comments as they are posted. The site will not automatically update on its own.*** And with that I welcome you to "Album Night" and wish you all a great listening experience! We'll be kicking off promptly at 9pm

    And here is my usual, but important, reminder for the event:
    ***Please make sure to periodically refresh your browser during the event so you can see all the comments as they are posted. The site will not automatically update on its own.***

    And with that I welcome you to "Album Night" and wish you all a great listening experience! We'll be kicking off promptly at 9pm

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    "Album Night" officially starts now! Start track 1 (hit play or put the needle down on side A) of 'Red Apple Falls' by Smog. Share your thoughts right here as you listen!

    "Album Night" officially starts now! Start track 1 (hit play or put the needle down on side A) of 'Red Apple Falls' by Smog. Share your thoughts right here as you listen!

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    just made it. i have to stop cutting these so close!

    just made it. i have to stop cutting these so close!

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    no problem Sarah. Glad to have you as always!

    no problem Sarah. Glad to have you as always!

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    first time listening to smog. so far sounds good. a lot of buzzing on that guitar!

    first time listening to smog. so far sounds good. a lot of buzzing on that guitar!

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    haha. Yeah, definitely some buzzing there on the acoustic. Good catch!

    haha. Yeah, definitely some buzzing there on the acoustic. Good catch!

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    poor bird in this one! is the bird a metaphor for something?

    poor bird in this one! is the bird a metaphor for something?

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    not sure Sarah. I was pondering similar questions. I think maybe he's just using the bird story to setup the last verse of him and his woman

    not sure Sarah. I was pondering similar questions. I think maybe he's just using the bird story to setup the last verse of him and his woman

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    ok, I can buy that :)

    ok, I can buy that smile

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    Pretty sure we're in sync, but "Red Apples", track 3, starting now.

    Pretty sure we're in sync, but "Red Apples", track 3, starting now.

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    There's nothing particularly brilliant about any of the instruments on their own, but everything comes together nicely to put across the perfect feeling of the songs

    There's nothing particularly brilliant about any of the instruments on their own, but everything comes together nicely to put across the perfect feeling of the songs

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    yeah, i might have been able to play drums on this track! lol

    yeah, i might have been able to play drums on this track! lol

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    oh good. finally an up tempo one. i thought i might drift off to sleep!

    oh good. finally an up tempo one. i thought i might drift off to sleep!

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    I hear ya! Some nice steel guitar in here ("I Was A Stranger"). Great track too. I always wonder what he was in the last town. Rapist, murderer, etc. I guess we're supposed to wonder

    I hear ya! Some nice steel guitar in here ("I Was A Stranger"). Great track too. I always wonder what he was in the last town. Rapist, murderer, etc. I guess we're supposed to wonder

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    "To Be of Use", track 5, starting now. I hear an accidentally hit note on the guitar in the beginning of this one. Makes me feel better about my own imperfections in recording! :)

    "To Be of Use", track 5, starting now. I hear an accidentally hit note on the guitar in the beginning of this one. Makes me feel better about my own imperfections in recording! smile

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    yeah, you shouldn't worry too much. nice to know a human is playing!

    yeah, you shouldn't worry too much. nice to know a human is playing!

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    i love his voice. very soothing in a way

    i love his voice. very soothing in a way

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    yeah, it goes perfectly with these slow soft songs! Title track starting now

    yeah, it goes perfectly with these slow soft songs!

    Title track starting now

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    life doesn't seem too good between him and the widow. june was a rough month i guess!

    life doesn't seem too good between him and the widow. june was a rough month i guess!

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    yeah, they "can't get past this" :)

    yeah, they "can't get past this" smile

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    "Jean jacket and tie". That line is funny to me. Can't remember the last time I saw a jean jacket. Not sure they were even around in '97 when this was released. But this, "Ex-Con" is another great track on the album.

    "Jean jacket and tie". That line is funny to me. Can't remember the last time I saw a jean jacket. Not sure they were even around in '97 when this was released. But this, "Ex-Con" is another great track on the album.

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    yeah, I like this one too. guess this wouldn't be the ideal place to admit i still have a jean jacket. :)

    yeah, I like this one too. guess this wouldn't be the ideal place to admit i still have a jean jacket. smile

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    No, it's cool. They'll probably be back in style again soon and you'll have a vintage one :)

    No, it's cool. They'll probably be back in style again soon and you'll have a vintage one smile

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    wow, that was inspirational :)

    wow, that was inspirational smile

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    Good one! We've gotten a lot of song lines in here tonight. Can't believe we're on the last track already

    Good one! We've gotten a lot of song lines in here tonight. Can't believe we're on the last track already

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    yeah, these things always fly by. this one has seemed to move a bit slower though. perhaps because of the slow tempos of the songs

    yeah, these things always fly by. this one has seemed to move a bit slower though. perhaps because of the slow tempos of the songs

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    Fair point. He's not exactly blasting us out of here either

    Fair point. He's not exactly blasting us out of here either

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    And that's a wrap! Thanks again for coming Sarah. I hope you enjoyed your journey to Red Apple Falls

    And that's a wrap! Thanks again for coming Sarah. I hope you enjoyed your journey to Red Apple Falls

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    thanks john. i did enjoy it just as i do with most of the albums. what's cooking next?

    thanks john. i did enjoy it just as i do with most of the albums. what's cooking next?

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    Great question Sarah! "Album Night" will return on Wed, December 2 with 'A Divina Comédia Ou Ando Meio Desligado' by Os Mutantes. This is a really unique and brilliant album recorded in the late 60's by the Brazilian psychedelic band. I think you'll really like this one. It's probably unlike anything you've ever heard before. Well, unless you've listened to Os Mutantes already... :)

    Great question Sarah! "Album Night" will return on Wed, December 2 with 'A Divina Comédia Ou Ando Meio Desligado' by Os Mutantes. This is a really unique and brilliant album recorded in the late 60's by the Brazilian psychedelic band. I think you'll really like this one. It's probably unlike anything you've ever heard before. Well, unless you've listened to Os Mutantes already... smile

  • Sarah

    Sarah NY

    can't say i have. i look forward to it though. certainly sounds interesting! c ya next time!

    can't say i have. i look forward to it though. certainly sounds interesting! c ya next time!

  • John Banrock

    John Banrock

    See you then Sarah. Thanks again for joining "Album Night"!

    See you then Sarah. Thanks again for joining "Album Night"!

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