Smog songs and Bill Callahan songs are cut from the same monotonic, folksy cloth. Which makes sense, seeing as Smog is Bill Callahan. But like a Highlight's "Can you spot the difference?" game, there are some nuanced variations between the two. Callahan recorded, under the moniker Smog, 11 full-length albums that chronicle 15 years of introspection, lost love and world-weary resignation all punctuated by his uninflected, Johnny Cash-like croon. But from the humorous "Dress Sexy at My Funeral" to the faith-questioning "I Feel Like the Mother of the World," Smog tunes shudder with an unshakable lo-fi darkness.
When Callahan released 2007's Woke on a Waleheart under his real name, there was an immediately perceivable difference. With a rich orchestration and more poppy arrangements, the album sounds almost happy. Songs like "Diamond Dancer" brim with Callahan's signature bellow but are also laced with wailing violins and fantastical imagery: "She was dancing so hard / She danced herself into a diamond." In April, Callahan released his second non-Smog album, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle. While the album is notably less upbeat than Woke on a Waleheart, it still reverberates with the softer, more accessible charm fans have come to associate with Callahan's side project. To see if you can tell the difference, stop by the Neurolux on Thursday, June 25, to catch Callahan in action.
9 p.m., with Bachelorette, $8 adv., $10 door. Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St., 208-343-0886.