Thursday, 5 July 2012

Silver Jews - Early Times

We live in a world where Pavement and Silver Jews once stood hand in hand. Silver Jews were formed by Pavement's lead guitarist/vocalist Stephen Malkmus, Bob Nastanovich and Mark E. Smith-esque front man David Berman in 1989. Not much is told at how these two bands began their slow rise to indie rock's 90's Hollywood days, but we know that the publics perception of Silver Jews is vivid. With Pavement constantly taking the light and Silver Jews coming off as a 'Pavement side project', it's been hard for front man David Berman to cope with. I am liable for this review, of course... I don't actually know David Berman or how he feels. Anyway, this is a Silver Jews compilation album of early material. Pavement musicians are involved here, and you can really hear where Pavement started off. Both Silver Jews and Pavement refined their sound post these recordings. 

Being a colossal The Fall fan, it's only obvious for me to indulge in lo-fi/post-punk/indie music. With Silver Jews, you pretty much get it all. These early recordings have very sparse percussion and the whole process of low-fidelity sounds like a mix between Daniel Johnston and Swell Maps. Some of the tracks have little entertainment value, however 'Canada' ignites with a very memorable guitar riff and distorted vocal. Sure, this release can be forgiven because it underlines the basic raw talent these musicians had at the time of recording, and believe me, they were are good. 'September 1999' has yet another cracking riff, and a surprisingly admirable vocal delivery. 'SVM F.T Troops' is arguably as good as it's predecessor. 

Silver Jews have put out thirteen tracks from their birth years. If you're familiar with lo-fi and can stand it's treacherous structures, then this compilation is for you. Heavy guitars dominate this release, however this isn't 'heavy' because of it's recording process. 'People' say that these early tracks were recorded into a telephone, and then played back through the answer machine. To be quite honest, I don't car how they recorded these tracks, because they're special and it's something better left untold.

I've learnt many things from music. Lo-fi has never really accepted me under his wings, but with these early Silver Jews tracks, I can't see why I was running away in the first place. I just want more. The guitar riffs are raw and different, with the edgy harmonic vocals and abrasive percussion which tears a hole through your ears. Silver Jews are not mighty, and they're certainly not as well-off as Pavement. They sure don't have a 'Gold Soundz' or 'Cut My Hair' either. What they do have is early recordings when lo-fi was relevant and taking a big strong fist and shoving it up rocknroll's arse. Hey, Pavement don't have a 'Hip Priest' or 'The Classical' either.


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