Friday, October 21, 2005

a hundred gutters

The Silver Jews latest album, "Tanglewood Numbers" is all over blog-land like some weird cyber-rash. It's a great album and you should really go and buy it.

Silver Jews have often been wrongly seen as a Pavement side-project, due to a fluctuating line-up that often included Pavement's Steve Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, alongside main man David Berman. And I admit that was my view, until I heard "The Natural Bridge"(1996).

Silver Jews - Black And Brown Blues

It's really hard to write intelligently about things that are this natural and simple sounding. I love that the Mandolin break makes me think of "Maggie May" but there's nothing arch or "clever-clever" about this song. Despite it's seeming simplicity and the "route-one" chords it's a hearty meal for the soul, including one of my favourite lyrics ever:
When I go downtown
I always wear a corduroy suit
cause it's made of a hundred gutters
that the rain can run right through
but a lonely man can't make a move
if he can't even bring himself to choose
between a pair of black and a pair of brown shoes
As well as being the only consistent band member, David Berman is a published poet. Alongside lyics of skewed romanticism there is a strong dark vein running through their stuff, only further added to by a disarmingly frank interview that Berman recently gave to Pitchfork (see link at the bottom of this post).

Silver Jews - Pet Politics

This song features the following lines, which are weird, comic, spiritual, disturbing, all at once - quite an achievement!
Adam was not the first man 'though the Bible tells us so
There was one created before him, whose name we do not know
He also lived in the garden
but he had no mouth or eyes
One day Adam came to kill him
and he died beneath these skies
Anyway, just to lighten the mood (a little bit - not too much!) here's a track from "American Water"(1998), a song that starts with the immortal line "In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection" and goes on to take in line-dancing, divorce and all points in between.

Silver Jews - Random Rules

There may well be a treat in the comments section for interested parties...

Visit Silver Jews
Read Pitchfork interview with DC Berman
Buy Silver Jews releases

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