Early Times - DRAG CITY
FILTER Grade: 78%
By Ken Scrudato on June 19, 2012
Like Tindersticks, Silver Jews have always existed as a bit of a shadowy entity. Alas, their lo-fi noir always lacked the devastating romanticism of Stuart Staples and the boys from Nottingham. Theirs was less a dissonance of the heart than of the eardrum. On these early recordings, dating back a couple of decades, David Berman, Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich are clearly going for that Sonic Youth–sort of aural mayhem, tunelessness as a kind of statement of defiance. But there is a classic rock band under it all. The mysteriously titled “SVM F.T. TROOPS” vaguely deconstructs a Stones riff, and there are a few wicked nods to old devil blues. But Jon Spencer did it better and nastier, and Thurston, Kim and crew did more unsettling things with noise. As well, the shouted vocals do start to grate. It’s an interesting curiosity, a peek into a developing band (that would clearly get much, much better and become comfortable rallying around their true heart: Berman). But not quite essential listening.