While David Berman (RIP) was always the lynchpin of Silver Jews, back in the project’s formative days he also had input from Pavement homies Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich. 'Early Times' yokes together two EPs that were cut in this lineup, 1992’s ‘Dime Map Of The Reef’ and 1993’s ‘The Arizona Record’. Ultra-lo-fi, raw and real, 'Early Times' sets the scene for one of the most celebrated and vital discographies in modern indie.
Vinyl LP £17.99 DC253
LP Drag City.
Led by David Berman, the man with the blackest beard in the whole of the western world, its strange to think that The Silver Jews were pre-Pavement and even stranger to hear early ‘hit’ ‘Canada’ now with the benefit of the hindsight of what came later. It sounds like the roughest Pavement demo ever - literally pots and pans for percussion and that MUST be Malkmus singing. There’s a more noir- ish feel to the next few tracks - still recorded on a boombox you can hear the beginnings of where the band would head - a dark poetic vision rather than lo-fi pop bliss but that said a lot of the songs are pure Pavement - the superb ‘Secret Knowledge of Back Roads’ was even covered by them but its hard to really tell here where one band ended and the other began as Malkmus takes up a lot of the singing and Bob Nastovich is around to crash around on various table tops and ashtrays. Certainly more of interest to fans of early Pavement than what later became the Silver Jews but there is a super pop sensibility at work here that was lacking in the later work and it seems that at this point this was as much Stephen Malkmus’s band as it was Berman’s. Lo-fi beyond belief but full to the brim of lost, scratchy pop classics. The influence on todays no-fi popateers such as Ty Segall and White Fence cannot be underestimated.
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