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American Water

32 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 20, 1998
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$18.18 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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American Water + NATURAL BRIDGE, THE [Vinyl] + Tanglewood Numbers
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Even as an unapologetic anti-metallite, I still can't escape the call of this band's silvery gleam. Still pleasant, still clever, still all the good-great pop action David Berman and Stephen Malkmus can dream up o'er the course of an album's time. Twelve chuckle-along songs hitting red on your geekest hip-o-meter.

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"All my favorite singers couldn't sing," Dave Berman of the Silver Jews idiosyncratically speak-croons on "Blue Arrangements." To make the point hit hardest, he doesn't sing so well himself, but it's well-taken: from Lou Reed to Bob Dylan, John Cale to Palace, conventionally "good" singing isn't the most necessary element in effective storyteller-troubadour music. Berman is a prose poet by day and rocker by night, and his lazy-sounding, countrified, skeletal, yet invigorating music celebrates the union of word with sound in a manner simultaneously classic and seldom heard. It's hard not to like a record that begins with the line "In 1984 I was hospitalized for reaching perfection." Thankfully, Berman doesn't trade in the wordplay he and collaborator Steve Malkmus are so expert at. If only Pavement's Brighten the Corners were this relaxed, full of melodic hooks, and cagily profound. --Mike McGonigal


Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. Random Rules 3:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Smith & Jones Forever 3:17$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Night Society 2:17$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Federal Dust 4:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. People 4:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Blue Arrangements 4:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. We Are Real 4:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Send In The Clouds 5:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Like Like The The The Death 3:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Buckingham Rabbit 4:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Honk If You're Lonely 2:47$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. The Wild Kindness 3:54$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 20, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Drag City
  • ASIN: B00000AG9W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,713 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By leopold bloom on April 6, 2000
Format: Audio CD
You've just gotten a stylish, hip, cool new shirt, and you know that when you wear it you ARE the shit. But the shirt is a little uncomfortable, a little tight maybe (like fashionable clothes tend to be), maybe just a tad too trendy. So instead you put on that old beaten up flannel thing that's frayed and faded and falling apart. But it's an instinctive choice, and you make it because this shirt makes you comfortable and happy.
American Water will not blow you away at first listen. It twangs and plods along in an alterna-folky way and takes little day-trips into funk and country. And yes, D.C. Berman's croaks more than sings, but hey, all of my favorite singers couldn't sing, either. But it wears extremely well, especially Berman's stoner-absurdist-yet-compulsively quotable lyrics. I could give many many examples as no doubt other reviewers have, but quoting the lyrics (e.g. "I love your amethyst eyes and your protestant thighs" or "From the digital fountains to the analog mountains, let the mirror express the room") doesn't do justice to their deadpan, cool-as-shit delivery by Berman and his right-hand man (some guy Steve from some other band). Suffice to say that American Water is an extremely comfortable shirt. And you can wear it every day and not smell bad.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 15, 1999
Format: Audio CD
"American Water" is a great album in the way that it frequently creates that certain syngergy of words and music you only find in the very best rock. Berman and Malkmus crooning uh-huh-HUH in the trailing line on the chorus of "People", the band switching rythmic tactics in the background wah-to-ashuffle, that five note guitar-picked downshift on "Send in the Clouds"- great stuff. Malkmus dominates less than on "Starlite Walker", to the band's benefit, usually teaming with Berman on choruses and the music has finally caught up to Berman's lyrics. On "Walker" and especially "The Natural Bridge" the band seemed to essentially play 12 varations on the same mid-tempo backing bit while Berman panned to great effect. Here he's learned those little tricks of inflection your true Rock God needs, the band doing everything from Pavementesque instra-mentals ("Night Society") to cornpone "country" ("Honk If You're Lonely")to hi-hat Christmastime slouchrock ("Smith & Jones Forever"). Pure Gold, folks. A must for Pavement fans or fans of the unclassifiable stuff that has the masses scratching their heads thinking of categories when you play it publicly- truth be told there is no sort of sortableness to this music- just great songs that're smarter than the average bear and like to remind you of it from time to time, as you sing along, Grinning Wryly.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 13, 1998
Format: Audio CD
Dave Berman's constantly evolving collective has made its best album to date. Unlike "The Natural Bridge", which was so heavily infused with Berman's "Velvet Underground drops acid with Hank Williams" aesthetic that it at times became redundant, "American Water" stretches out a bit more. This tendency towards trying out different sounds is aided by Pavement frontman Steve Malkmus's delightfully skewed harmonizing. "Send in the Clouds" rocks, "People" is almost funky, and "Honk if You Feel Lonely" allows Berman to swagger through a winking Roger Miller send-up. Lyrically, _American Water_ asks the big questions, from "Why can't monsters get along with other monsters" to "why is there something instead of nothing". Owning this record will improve your life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Ivey on July 24, 2008
Format: Audio CD
This is my favorite of album by the Silver Jews, mostly due to the wonderful interplay of Malkmus's distinctive musical style and Berman's wonderfully rich and dense lyrics. I can't wax effulgent, though as this album does have some significant flaws. Mr. Berman sometimes seems to be trying to condense his verbiage for maximum impact, but unintenionally glosses over his lyrical themes with abstract generalities. Not to detract from his skills, of course; He is a fine poet, but his poetic techniques don't always lend themselves to this medium. Aside from the lyrics, I'm at times frustrated by how weakly constructed some of the harmonies are, and bored by some of the quirky genre omage that creeps in from song to song, and takes some songs over entirely.

I would like to respond to the one low rating on this site for this album:

He's not an accomplished vocalist. We know that, everyone knows that, and every time you complain about it, you look like an ignorant jerk in front of everyone. You can't complain about a lack of virtuoso guitar solos in classical music because that's just not where you find high-speed double taps and pick sweeps. Likewise, a lot of indie music's charm is the content's ability to take front stage over the presentation, and the success of front-men who hate the limelight and tell their psychological war stories through their albums is a testament to the potency of this sort of music.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mattc@gocubs.com on June 23, 1999
Format: Audio CD
The joke becomes serious with the new release from the Silver Jews. Born from an adolescent Pavement, the Jews have spent their early days playing games in musical daycare and now graduate with to a more stern level of discipline. Sure, D.C. Berman bounces his words off the corners of sanity, occasionally missing, occasionally hitting a bullseye, but the music seldom strays into lunacy. Pavement frontman Steve Malkmus chimes in on a few tunes, making for an added bonus. This album carried an open invitation to my cd player.
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