August 30, 2005

closed sign swinging in the window of the liquor store



* High Plains Business Loop on the Silver Jews Tanglewood Numbers. excerpt:

"And then on Tanglewood Numbers it seems like now he's moved from being not ashamed of it to being proud of it and what it represents about himself and all the wastoid garbage he took himself through. It sounds to me like he's gotten out of it and is now on the right 'path' (whatever you want to make of that) with priorities besides being an impressive genius who must hold himself back with stunting drug abuse and a continual four-year kegger at the crack house or however he'd best describe it.

"And of course there's all the music on the album, too, and what all that sounds like. "K-Hole" sounds like a entirely different band, a modern rock one with outer spacescapes and genuine 'bite' (sharp angles where clumsy weathered edges would have appeared in records previous) in the context of the Silver Jews slow country blues history. 'Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed' is a real honest-to-goodness rave-up that reinforces the long-lost feeling of happiness and excitement with sturdy, simplified bars of banjo and piano accentuated guitar rock. 'The Farmer's Hotel' is an Edgar Allan Poe verse about an ominous stay in a ghastly hotel, almost Biblical in its lengthy wisdom. In this standout track, Berman has taken his time to allow the moral to slowly roll down to us at the end of the song, the literate devices used inside exactly as tasteful as we've come to expect from him. There are somber moments on the record but there are flippant ones too. In 'Sleeping is the Only Love' Berman tells us a tiny bit about his old friend 'Marc with a C' and in 'I'm Getting Back (Into Getting Back Into You)" the apologetic husband re-introduces himself this time as coming equipped with a brand new point of view, 'like a brown bird nesting in a Texaco sign.'

"TN is different; what it sounds like to me is Berman no longer hanging his head and feeling sorry for himself. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I mean before this record I for once certainly didn't think there was anything wrong with it. The previous formula is/was seriously sonic manna to self-defeating indie hipsters who LOVE to wallow in the angst to music that doesn't try as hard as it could.

"But listening to this record a few dozen times proves that David has a new perspective on this record. He has wrangled his inner contempt and finally, finally, for the benefit of himself and all his admirers, directed it away from the self and onto external forces, be they political, cultural, whatever. He's standing up for himself. It's all over the lyrics, too:

"We've got no good will, no good will to give
to those who try to take away what we need to live"

"I saw God's shadow on this world
I could not love the world entire
There grew a desert in my mind
I took a hammer to it all"



It's one hell of a record.

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