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Tanglewood Numbers

4.6 out of 5 stars 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!

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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


Actual Air by David Berman

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Bright Flight a>

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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: #136,456 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Audio CD
I don't think many Silver Jews fans liked this record much on its release. Following a four-year hiatus for the band during which its lead singer and songwriter tried to kill himself, got married, and finally started touring, the 'Jews came roaring back with a collection of songs that were, for the first time, more uptempo than upbeat.

The first song, "Punks in the Beerlight," is honestly pretty bad, but the way that it comes roaring out of hibernation with those big electric chords and the opening lines "Where's the paper bag that holds the liquor / just in case I feel the need to puke" is so goddamned triumphant that by the time you've realized two minutes later that Berman's already exhausted all of the emotion he'd been holding in reserve for four years and is bemusedly making up rhymes for Tolouse Lautrec, you're just happy to be there together.

In fact, that's pretty much the whole album -- though "Sleeping is the Only Love" is a standout.
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