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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Album Tue Jun 17 2008

Silver Jews draw from deeper well for new album

[Note: This review came to us from former Gapers Block: Transmission staffer Dan Snedigar.]

Jews by Brent Stewart.jpg

David Berman and unidentified pooch. (Photo by Brent Stewart)

Chicago's Drag City has a reputation for putting out challenging, diverse music, and plenty of Chicago scene superstar side projects. This week, the label cranks out the latest from poet David Berman's musical vehicle Silver Jews. Though occasionally and for the most part wrongfully categorized as a Stephen Malkmus sidecar, the Jews music has always trafficked in simple but potent music layered with some of the most intricate lyrics of the past few decades. On Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, the band's fifth full length effort, the music draws from a well that has seemingly deepened since the band started touring extensively after over a decade as something of a studio lark.

The music remains country-tinged, often sounding like background music in a David Lynch honky-tonk. Songs like “Suffering Jukebox," are musical oddities, sounding at once like modern Nashville pap, but maintaining a jewel-like clarity and a respectably poignant lyrical punch. “Party Barge," borrows notes from the Rolling Stones and maintains an almost Jimmy Buffet-like irreverence while weaving in shore sounds and driving guitars.

The shiny new production can at times be frustrating, leaving fans of the Silver Jews early work pining for the stripped down simplicity of albums like American Water, and while there may be as many near misses as hits, the album represents an interesting step forward. It shows a band coming into true professionalism musically while maintaining frontman Berman's lyrical voice, unmatched in modern music.

-Dan Snedigar

Dan was a Chicago resident until he recently moved to Montana where he's a freelance writer and attorney.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


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Beat Kitchen
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Buddy Guy's Legends
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Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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