Home / Music / Album Reviews / Silver Jews

Silver Jews

Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (Drag City)

Jul. 29, 2008
Google plus Linkedin Pinterest

David Berman’s latest is an album where the sleeve art outshines the record itself. Think of your most hated prog album (is it Yes’ Topographic Oceans? I bet it’s Yes’ Topographic Oceans) and you’ll get the picture. A beautiful sepia-tone painting depicting Babar (that’s right; the beloved elephant) amidst jagged rocks on a turbulent sea does however seem oddly appropriate for Berman’s post addiction/failed suicide attempt vision for his band.

  And the tunes themselves have their merits. Berman’s playful as ever with clever twists of phrases and lo-fi hooks. It’s not so much a progression from 2005’s Tanglewood Numbers but more so a continuation. Only this time there’s no Stephen Malkmus tossing off solos and licks, pulling the Jews even further from the Pavement-side-project label they’ve often been hampered with—both a blessing for Berman and possibly a drawback for more narrow-minded fans.

  Progression must be difficult for a band so closely entwined in one of indie-rock’s greatest mythos. “Aloysius, Blugrass Drummer” comes off like a Ben Folds Five pastiche when Berman’s stripped-down songwriting is coupled with technical precision (here a rollicking piano). Berman’s whiskey and milk voice has progressed, however. On the six-minute “San Francisco B.C.” he sounds something like a Gen-x Johnny Cash for a Dylanesque story song complete with fight scene and twist ending. With its rolling beat it’s destined to become a live staple.

  LookoutMountain’s not necessarily a step forward. But it is a worthy inclusion in the band’s catalog.


Are you upset by the way the NFL and the team owners have treated Colin Kaepernick?

Getting poll results. Please wait...