listen without prejudice


Domino WIGCD15
I'VE tried to hold back from enthusing about lo-fi underground US rock this year. The dangers of repetition, and all that. (Anyway, you oughta be checking out the G-funksters and some of the home-brewed crop.) So I've failed to mention the melancholy, psychedelic blues of Smog. A pity. I've avoided coming to terms with the ravishing, epic splendour that is the jangling Thinking Fellows Union. Wrong. I've failed to bring to attention the mesmeric Unwound, all-out assault of Dolomite, the truly f***ed-up street poetry of Azalia Snail, the Seventies sideburns of Plush . . . Didn't want accusations of overkill laid at my beer- belly. Understand? Good.

I can contain myself no longer, however.

I have a new love in town and my ardour knows no shame: Silver Jews. Two parts Pavement (literally - Steve Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich play throughout this record) and two parts something weirder and more Southern altogether. A slow-burning fuse of a record which always threaten to burst alight, but never quite does, always remains teasingly locked within its organic groove. What groove? Why that of the South, of course - blues, country, any f***ing groove our mainman David Berman stumbles across while dragging on yet another fine joint. Okay, so occasionally he hits that high note all quavering and dispossessed like an identikit Malkmus but, f*** . . . he does the sound so well.

. . . you get the idea. Rock utopia can be found within the grooves of a record, too. And didn't you just luuurve all the elitist namedropping? (Also, though rock might be dead as a populist culture, it doesn't mean that individuals can't have significance to other individuals. I would never argue, however, that anyone else should feel the same way about Silver Jews, say, as me. My reasons for liking both Gene and Silver Jews are remarkably similar: because they both comfort, reassure me in their not-so radical reworkings of extremely familiar sounds. And that they both seem genuine - whatever the hell that means. As Ed, singer with UK revivalist punk band S*M*A*S*H, once put it - "Integrity. Sorry, what was the question?")