Monday, October 24, 2005

Silver Jews/Tanglewood Numbers/7.9

Few cultural moments are as indelible as the one that occurred in fin-de-siècle Montmartre.

While the first paragraph appears to have wandered in from a cultural studies essay, the rest of PFM's review provides a balanced survey of Tanglewood Numbers with a rating squarely on the money. The connection between 19th century Paris and 21st century Louisville never really becomes clear. It must have something to do with both cities being on rivers and having bars.

My own repeated listens to the CD agree with PFM's and everyone else's reviews - this is a different, surprisingly polished record by Silver Jew standards. If you liked the previous albums by DCB/Silver Jews, you will probably like this record. However, it will violate the expectations of some fans enough to cause disapproval. If you haven't been exposed to the Silver Jews yet, this record will not prepare you to delve into their back catalog. However, this album may create more fans for the David Berman's music than before.

As pointed out in the Pitchfork interview with Berman, banjo and violin credits on the record go to Paz Lenchantin. While I realized that Lenchantin had studied violin and played it with both Zwan and Papa M, I had originally pegged her as the bassist. To my delight, Lenchantin makes solid contributions on the tracks Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed, K-Hole and How Can I Love You If You Won't Lie Down. Moreover, her banjo and fiddle tracks on Animal Shapes give that song a strong rollicking country feel. In short, that classically trained Argentine kicks ass playing country music.

By some accident, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's Howl is in the slot after Tanglewood Numbers on my CD player. "There Is A Place" on Tanglewood Numbers segueways nicely into "Shuffle Your Feet", the first track on Howl. The juxtaposition of the line "I saw God's shadow on this world" to "Time won't save our souls" creates an illusory call and response between two very different sets of voices. However, that is another review for a later time.