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San Francisco, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

San Francisco, CA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Duo Rock Art Rock




"Song of the Day: 'Strange' by Callow"

The bleakness at the edges of "Strange" by San Francisco duo Callow (Red Moses and Sami Knowles) will linger long after the track fades away. So too will the honesty of this guitar-and-drums journey into the dark. -

"From the Mailbox - Callow - Blue Spells"

Emerging from the San Francisco Bay Area is Callow. The duo features guitarist/lead singer Red Moses and drummer/keyboardist Sami Knowles. The pair formed in 2009 and refer to their sound as ‘Ghost Western’.

To support the November 19th release of their new album, Blue Spells, Callow has released the singles “Philosophy” and “Strange”. Immediately striking are the evocative, nearly tortured, vocals of Moses. Knowles drawling twang is the perfect complement and gives these tracks deep visceral appeal. An analog recording, Blue Spells was recorded live to tape, which adds to its stirring grittiness. - The Dadada

"Callow - Blue Spells"

When you consider the word callow contains both negative connotation and dictation, it’s unsurprising that leadman Red Moses and Sami Knowles would combine to name their outfit Callow. Their brand of music is unforgiving: a channeling of emotions that are ingrained into the seams of every single chord. Opener “Strange” bellows with a call to arms as the drums try their best to keep up with Moses’ yearning vocals. Unabashed, relentless and unapologetic, Callow weaves stories about unfortunate life struggles through a lens that is both smoky and ethereal for Blue Spells.

Merging through a mutual love of music, Moses and Knowles power these eight tracks with a chemistry that is undeniably present. Knowles feeds off Moses’ chops with subtle and still, evocative pairings that are the seamless contrast to Moses’ bittersweet tendencies. In plain terms, the spells that Moses mentions are ones that leave him feeling blue and instead of piling on the depression, the album’s structure and songs bind everything into what might be considered a stirring listen. There’s a terrific quote about Callow and it mentions taking in their music under a full moon, in the dark, with forty or so candles lit: the ominous music channels those brooding brainwaves to burgeon as well.

Even their more ‘straight forward’ methods work wonders. “Stop Breathing In” rides on the strength of a soaring piano line and Moses sings about the loss of breath one feels at times. The keyboard almost recalls The White Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan era and why not, the morbid influences seem to flourish on Blue Spells. On “Space Ghost” Moses aims for another yearning refrain and this time there is a more pensive environment to get lost in. The thriving bells in the background are combined with thumping drums and a menacing guitar for a cloyingly harsh song.

Although Blue Spells maintains a dark existence throughout, these eight songs still could benefit from a more balanced approach. Most of the songs are slower tempos and while it’s definitely a mood setter (as opposed to a running buddy) it unfortunately, can sometimes be too moody. By the time you reach “Sex Moans for a Dead Man,” the overtones have driven Callow into downright gloomy proportions. The closer is a terrific send-off with more of an angry bite and a thunderous layering of piano and guitar. For the most part, Callow drive positive results throughout, with only a few bumps on the road along the way. - DOA: for the love of music

"TVD Premiere: Callow, "Strange""

The duo interweaves harmonies into equal parts of instrumental grit, seductive beauty, and guitar fuzz to jog naturally along as if in a seedy part of town where every twist and turn leads to another unexpected surprise. - The Vinyl District

"Mad Mackerel Premiere: Callow's Philosophy"

Mad Mackerel Premiere: Callow's Philosophy

We are delighted to offer a premiere for Callow’s Philosophy from their forthcoming eight track release Blue Spells (which, by the way, includes our favourite song title of the year so far with closing track, Sex Moans for a Dead Man).

Philosophy is a less experimental, a less frenetic, offering than their previous (excellent) single Strange. In fact it is, by some distance, some of the most gorgeously haunting and mesmerising tune-smithing we have heard for many a long, lonely night.

In just over 100 seconds of perfectly judged vocal harmonies and gently subdued instrumentation, the San Francisco duo have managed to create a sweetly sombre classic of pensive restraint and yearning melancholy that leaves palpable echoes hanging in the air long after the song has finished.

It is a song to wallow in – to immerse yourself in.

Download it. Turn the lights down low and indulge yourself. You’ll feel all the better for it!

Check out their Bandcamp here. Blue Spells is officially released on 19th November. - Mad Mackerel

"Callow – “Gold”"

I did an aural double-take the first time I heard the tracks off San Francisco-based Callow’s self-titled EP because the vocals were so intensely committed to a certain style that you don’t hear attempted often these days in pop music. A gravelly, high-pitched delivery you hear sometimes in that nebulous region between hard rock, heavy blues, and hair metal. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it proposition, and I found myself really digging it after several listens, so give it a spin. - QRO

"Callow - Orb Weaver"

Callow, a two-piece down-tempo rock outfit, comprised of Red Moses (vocals/guitar) and Sami Knowles (drums/keys/vocals). Formed in 2009 and hailing from San Francisco Bay in the USA, the duet has toured and promoted itself for some time now and released their debut, Orb Weaver, in 2012.
Callow - dreamrock from the USA.

Before starting this review there were aesthetic elements which planted certain expectations in my mind. The name of the band, Callow, suggests a lack of maturity or experience, a humble choice of title in an industry saturated with evocative and macho designations. The album title, Orb Weaver, seemingly refers to the common spider which lurks in gardens and on the cover art which perhaps indicates intricate design and delicate craftsmanship.

From the sparse and atmospheric opening minutes of the album, Callow clearly focus on texture and dynamics in their song-writing, featuring subtle harmonies featuring male and female vocals which work well to provide emotional depths to the proceedings. If forced, I would suggest Orb Weaver falls somewhere between doom rock and folk music, with soft piano melodies providing a backdrop to sparse guitar passages and brooding vocals suggestive of sorrow and reminiscence. Indeed, Red’s infectiously anguished vocals compliment the music very well, though it would be nice to hear that energy balanced more often by Sami’s crystal clear voice. Callow are at their best when juxtaposing gentle elements with the passionate, and their music really comes alive when these factors are put into play.

While certainly not bad, I feel the package is somewhat light on progression. A standout track would be Come Alive, which flows and ebbs pleasantly without overstaying its welcome and displays a bristling energy which seems to lurk just beneath the surface. With more focused compositions and crisp production Callow could evolve into a very pleasing musical force. - Indie Bands Blog

"Callow plays NXNW Record release party at Katie O'Briens"

"Red's lead vocals emote an anguished earnestness that fuel Callow's songs of struggle, sorrow, and despair, but offer a redemptive consolation. Providing a refined contrast to Red's vocals are the soothing, angelic backing vocals of Sami whose voice weaves in and out of harmonies and duets that provide a sweeping flow to their sound. You're in for a subtle, but moving and powerful emotional experience." -

"Local Licks"

"A raw contralto will get you far in the indie world, particularly if you specialize in songs about heartbreak, death, and the fallout after a bad relationship. Singer Red Moses has it. Whoever did him wrong paved the way for some forceful emo-folk, buoyed by heavy chords and portentous lyrics. Don't let the name fool you." - Rachel Swan
- East Bay Express

"National Music Reviews - Callow - Blue Spells"

Callow = Low + Lou Reed
Ever wondered what the tortured and slowcore-laden doppelganger of Adam Stephens (from Two Gallants) would sound like? Because if you soak his vocal styling in melancholy and swaddle it with goth rock underlays, you’d have the fundamental fixings for Callow. At the beginning of Blue Spells, “Stop Breathing” is a downtrodden ode that serves as emotional foreshadowing for the rest of the album. It is beautiful yet dangerously gloomy, with slow jams entombed underneath ominous piano chords and haunting vocal harmonizing, which will lure comparisons with Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker on C’mon. The overly mesmerizing disposition of Blue Spells won’t sober up lovesick music listeners like garden-variety pop songs would, but serves more as a “hair-of-the-dog” cure and further inebriates them via beautiful minimalistic slowcore. It’s relieving to hear a rock band coming out of San Francisco that separates itself from the pretentious rock herd. –Gregory Gerulat - SLUG Magazine

"National Music Reviews - Callow - Orb Weaver"

Callow = Band of Horses + Roky Erickson + Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Callow takes an alternative historical sonic route of what punk rock would have been had it evolved from The Velvet Underground’s airy slowness rather than their minimalism. Callow’s instrumentation is sparse, though, with chords that ring out on the piano and guitar-picking patterns that walk in single file, culminating in darkly beautiful compositions. Opener “Walls” strides with a gait similar to the beginning of The Wonder Years theme with singer Gared Moses’ high, Winnie-ing voice—of course, the song comes without the same teenage-angst connotations of the TV theme and, rather, intercalates the stomach with the butterflies of apprehension. My favorite track, “Come Alive,” features a deep, hollow kick drum that pumps like a heroin-ridden heart as the piano strolls along an Aeolian line akin to “Moonlight Sonata,” then picks up with subdued guitar strums and female vocals that accompany Moses’ Ben Bridwell-like wails. Orb Weaver is simply beautiful in its melancholic woolgathering. –Alexander Ortega - SLUG Magazine

"Callow - Haunting and Beautiful"

Callow - haunting and beautiful
Published 3:07 pm, Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sami Knowles is a dancer: She's performed in S.F.'s Anne Bluethenthal & Dancers, as well as a handful of modern dance companies. But a trip to Haiti in 2009 changed her focus; she'd gone to study dance and drums and learned that she has a gift for drumming.
Later that year, Knowles sat in on a rehearsal with singer-guitarist Gared Moses, "playing only the floor tom and a cymbal." Moses had been having a hard time keeping a regular lineup of musicians to perform and tour, but the two clicked; they've been a band ever since.
Callow's sound is haunting and beautiful, with angst and tension balanced with primal minimalism. They refer to their music as "ghost western."
The duo's third record, "Blue Spells," was released in November.
Lineup: Gared Moses, lead vocals, guitar; Sami Knowles, keyboard, percussions, vocals.

Was there a band you heard when you were young that inspired you to become a musician?
SK: Radiohead, 1998. Paris. Being several feet from Thom Yorke as his face turned red and veins popped out of his neck from singing so passionately. Being in a crowd of swaying bodies singing "Rain down, rain down. Come on rain down on me." That was the moment for me.
How does living in the Bay Area affect your music?
SK: The fog. I can spend hours watching it roll in over Twin Peaks. It never ceases to fascinate me. The ominous, mysterious, hypnotic quality of fog lurks around the edges of our music, for sure.
How did you come up with your band name and what does it mean to you?
SK: It's an uncommon and rarely used English word, so there's an inherent bleakness and mystery to it, which we love. Red didn't know what it meant when he chose it. It was really amusing to find out that the word means immature and naive. We totally resonate with that. (We are a couple of adults who have not given up on the dream, after all.) And it also says something about the minimal nature of our music. - SF Chronicle

"Callow: 1078 Gallery Goes Deep This Friday"

A two piece from the black depths of the ocean. Often with only one floor tom, Sami will keep a steady percussive pace through entire songs, reminding one of the implacable rise and fall of the tides. Red and his guitar croon over the deep-yet-simplistic music, seeming to explore humanity’s heartache, its soul-searching, and its sorrow. Rarely does Chico get to witness something so honest, simple, and rich as San Francisco’s Callow. It’s kind of like watching a time-lapse of clouds skate over a lonely mountain range, and it feels a little bit like Sigur Ros, if they were American and sang with a little bit of cowboy-twang in their voices. - Synthesis Weekly


Self-Titled EP (2010)

Orb Weaver (2012)
Blue Spells (2013)

Mothdust (2017)



Callow is a dream/doom duo based in the SF Bay. 

They are Red Moses (vocals, guitar) and Sami Knowles (keys, drums, vocals).

They met in SF in 2006 and began playing music together in 2009. A lot has happened since then.

Past festival performances include Sled Island, CMJ, Mile High Festibowl, and SXSW (unofficial). Their song "Old Horse" was voted "Best Song" by Noisepop voters in the SF Music Video Race (2013). 

They're currently finishing their third album, Mothdust. The first single will be out in the fall of 2016. The album is slated for early 2017 release.

Band Members