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Tanglewood Numbers

8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 18, 2005
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Product Description

Silver Jews return after 4 years of nothing with TANGELWOOD NUMBERS. Punk aficionados rejoice!

The first Silver Jews album in four years is a triumph with its throwback '80s-synth ear-candy keyboards, slack guitars, and a sublime hi-fi sound that only a former lo-fi band can get. Breaking the silence, the indie-rock star-studded band (Malkmus and Nastanovich rejoin, the 'Bonnie' Prince, as well as refugees from the Jesus Lizard and Papa M) play fearless off-center rock rooted in Nashville, reminiscent of both Vic Chestnut's realism and Giant Sand's recent innovations. Not to mention that David Berman is a poet, so each song is dense with imagery, the whole record effectively telling a ten-part, 40-minute story that is partly funny, always honest, and often dark. Witness Berman exploring overcoming addiction, ("closed sign swinging in the liquor store" "later I come to find/life is sweeter than Jewish wine") the complete despair that lead to his suicide attempt, "There is a place past the blues I never want to see again" on "There Is a Place," and a uniquely American desolation, "I've been working at the airport bar/it's like Christmas in a submarine" on "Getting Back into Getting Back into You." Fortunately, the Jews sound is big enough to contain Berman's lyrical shadows, and this juxtaposition of opposite elements (happy-sounding rock and introspective lyrics) results in a record that is wholly satisfying: not too overwrought and never self-assuredly slick. --Gabi Knight

There's Plenty More Silver Jews Where This Came From

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 18, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Drag City
  • ASIN: B000AGL1G6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,096 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Range41 on October 18, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Mr. Berman is back!!! And Mr. Malkmus is with him again!!! American Water is probably one of my favorite albums of all time, so I was eager for this latest from the Jews. No dissapointment here. "Punks in the Beerlight" is a great dirty rocker, but the second track ("Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed")is where it becomes obvious that the magic is back. If track four - "Animal Shapes" doesnt get you reaching to turn up the volume you are probably dead. There are great, lazy weird strummers - like all Silver Jew records - as well. The final track, about Dave Bermans attempted suicide, is amazing and manages to be uplifting. All in all, one of the best of 2005 so far. With My Morning Jacket going all "Wilco-ey" - Silver Jews may the last refuge for good southern tinged country rock.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Greg Locke on December 21, 2005
Format: Audio CD
It's difficult to believe that at one time, David Berman was known as little more than Stephen Malkmus' fluky college roommate. Now an accomplished writer with a collection of poetry (Actual Air) headed quickly towards cult status, and five acclaimed albums on the highly credible Drag City imprint, Berman seems to finally be getting his dues as an artist. In the time since his career-best album, Bright Flight, Berman settled down into life in Nashville, domesticated himself alongside his new wife Cassie, presumably drank 20,000 (more) beers, became addicted to some hardcore substances, and alas, attempted to take his life. A true poet indeed. Luckily, Berman lived to write another album, the results being the recently released Tanglewood Numbers.

Once recovered, Berman began spending his days at home, collecting modest royalty checks-living off of less than $25,000 per year, a ridiculously low amount, considering his 1998 album, American Water, was regarded by many critics to be the year's best release. In time, Berman got the writing bug like he never had before, eventually calling on his all-star cast of friends and past band members to help him record what was to become his fifth full-length album in the spring of 2005. Along for the ride on one of the years most anticipated indie releases was Bob Nastanovich (Pavement), Will Oldham (Bonnie `Prince' Billy/Palace), his wife Cassie (Linda to his Richard Thompson), Steve West (Pavement), Bobby Bare, Jr., Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle), Mike Fellows, and on again-off again Joo, Stephen Malkmus.

As far as album formats go, aside from the absence of his customary instrumental composition, Berman's auteuristic habits continue to be a key element on Tanglewood.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 16, 2006
Format: Audio CD
If any of my frivolous nuisance lawsuits against Fortune 500 companies ever bear financial fruit, I would take some of my proceeds and hire David Berman to be "artist-in-residence" at my garlic farm / spiritual retreat. This is a tremendous record, noisy and accessible, with poetic lyrics and crisp production. The Eggleston photo of Martin, Bobby, and John on the front cover does an excellent job of getting this record started. Highly recommended and the perfect length for a recording - in and out in 35 minutes!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Hansen on January 18, 2006
Format: Audio CD
We all experience this. You find the perfect bar, you frequent it every chance you get, start to soak in its character, invite friends to experience it with you and question the strength of your friendship when they don't react the same, then as soon you're worried it'll lose its charm, you find another perfect bar. The Silver Jews are like that. Dave Berman doesn't release records on a regular basis, which works to his advantage, as it allows listeners to live in the worlds of the songs, decompose the lyrics for hidden meanings and memorize each chord progression. Then, just in time, a new one is presented to the world, and a new obsession is begun. The bar comparison is a tad inappropriate this time out, Tanglewood Numbers is an attempt by Berman to document the last years of drug and alcohol addiction, and subsequent rehabilitation. What's fascinating about it is how different it sounds from the last Jews album, and how rocking it is. This is due in no small part to the aforementioned Malkmus on guitar and his Pavement bandmate Bob Nastanovich on drums (both were members of the original SJ incarnation and record off and on with Berman.) Still intact are the lyrics that are the real draw to any Jews album. Sadly, I don't have the liner notes in front of me to quote, but suffice it to say that song titles include Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed and How Can I Love You if You Won't Lie Down?
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