Friday, 12 December 2008

Records of the Year - Part 4

So, this is my last say on the matter of 2008, but I'll be posting some contributions from others connected with Tough Love in the next few days. They have the gift of brevity, whereas I like the sound of my own voice (even when typing), so will be posted in one sitting. Wow, content!

My four selections will also be published on Rockfeedback on Monday in their annual Best of the Year feature. I'm unsure where exactly they'll be in the list though. Publish and be damned, indeed.

And so...

Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea(Drag City)

18 years since their debut single, 2008 finally saw D.C. Berman publically realise what the best of us had known since forever: he’s an outright, bonafide superstar. Last year Silver Jews broke their live show freeze-out and Berman began the unenviable task of having to deliver a canon of songs that had for too long belonged wholesale to the fans. And the pressure showed, not least in his tentative stage manner and on the relatively straight-laced Tanglewood Numbers.

But Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea - and the heart stopping, life affirming shows that accompanied its release - was Berman embracing what for so long he had feared. His struggles with the Nietzschian black stuff have been well documented, but having come out the other side, Berman now has wisened perspective to match his always-inventive cryptic word play.

In amongst the twisted narratives of “San Francisco B.C.” and “Party Barge”, this is Berman with his aim set firmly to true. “Strange Victory, Strange Defeat” and “Suffering Jukebox” are perhaps the best double team one-two to ever address the internal paradox of fame and its vicissitudes, while “What Is Not But Could Be If” has Berman enunciating like the University Don he could’ve easily been (just as much as he could’ve be the drunken bar room sage spouting pseudo-philosophical epiphanies into an unappreciative breeze, had events taken a different course).

But it’s on closer “We Could Be Looking For The Same Thing” that the raw humanity of The Joos truly shines through. Sharing vocals with wife and seemingly eternal muse, Cassie Berman, they blissfully chime in unison “we could belong to each other” and it’s pure unfettered Country drama, albeit in a softened new wave skin. This was as direct as Berman has ever been and as gauche as it may seem, if you’re not moved by that, then frankly, you’ve nothing in your hollow chest.

Many silvery moons ago on The Natural Bridge, Berman somewhat disingenuously claimed “now that I’m older and subspace is colder, I just want to say something true”. On Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, that’s exactly what he did and it was glorious.

Silver Jews - "We Could Be Looking For The Same Thing"

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