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Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea [CD]

Silver Jews Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £11.35 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
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Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea + Tanglewood Numbers
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Product details

  • Audio CD (2 Jun 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Drag City
  • ASIN: B0015XIE0O
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,331 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. What Is Not But Could Be If 3:07£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Aloysius, Bluegrass Drummer 1:54£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Suffering Jukebox 4:21£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. My Pillow Is The Threshold 3:52£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Strange Victory, Strange Defeat 2:43£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Open Field 2:39£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. San Francisco B.C. 6:14£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Candy Jail 2:30£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Party Barge 2:54£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. We Could Be Looking For The Same Thing 3:35£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

BBC Review

The Silver Jews' sixth album cover - wherein three stuffed Babar toys climb onto a rocky outcrop - mysteriously and trickily relates to the record's tales of virtue gone to seed. But in 2008 what are the odds of ever seeing it? Since the likelihood is that most will simply download the best tracks for their mobiles, it's best to forgo theoretical discussion about the gap between speech and song, in favour of an appreciation of the album's country-rock attack, ethereal choruses and mosaic burr. Yes David Berman (along with wife Cassie) is back with yet another line-up in his journey along a road that's long since ceased to be incorrectly termed 'Pavement offshoot'.

Actually, Look Out Mountain, Look Out Sea is too varied an album to be called country, or rock, let alone country-rock. On the opener What Is Not But Could Be If, head songwriter Berman comes across like a latter-day psychedelicized Johnny Cash, throwing thoughts like tomahawks and quoting Yiddish wisdom. This urgent, apocalyptic mood continues on the shimmering alt-pop slabs of Suffering Jukebox and My Pillow Is A Threshold. But the album's brilliance lies in its mix of approaches. There are the disturbing and arresting visions of Strange Victory, Strange Defeat and San Francisco B.C. (a distant relation of Dylan's 115th Dream); the marimba delirium of Candy Jail and the ship's horn and seagulls blasting on Party Barge. In addition, the naive chiming rendition of Japanese composer Maher Shalal Hash Baz's Open Field offer a perspective upon Berman's last-chance Texaco of lowlife insanity and romantic longing.

The man's final triumph here lies in his lyrical vision, which goes beyond merely skewering a world of craven mediocrity to suggest better possibilities, where the end might just be another beginning. But rather than expound further on the Silver Jews' new sympathy for unloved machine humanity, perhaps it's enough to say that this is the best album to come out of Tennessee this year; indeed possibly the world. It even has a chord chart. So you really should get your own copy. --Tim Nelson

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Well I have to admit I had completely lost the Silver Jews before earlier this year when I saw them put in a magisterial performance at the Primaverasound Festival in Barcelona. Much of the set comprised of this record. And what a record it is. Somewhere between Kinky Friedman and Nick Cave, David Berman takes his place amongst the pantheon of inspired lyricists. Every song on this record has something going for it. It is one of those great efforts that rewards you with repeated listenings. The lyrics are picturesque and witty, the melodies are beautiful and the overall execution is nigh on perfect. Its the ultimate modern country record. It manages the rare balance of being incredibly smart whilst still amazingly soulful. This is one record that will not get filed away. And now having acquianted myself with the back catalogue it pulls of the unheard of trick of an artist producing their best record 6 albums in. If there are any essential purchses in 2008, this is surely one. God bless The Joos. Buy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blow my mind Sergeant! 1 Mar 2009
Format:Audio CD
What an album! Not since the Beat Farmers have such outrageously hilarious scatological and poetic (ina Crazy Jane sense) lyrics graced a rock album. The stories recounted include the tale of "Aloysius, Bluegrass drummer" who fell in with a woman addicted to fat (hydrogenated) and the bizarre tale of "San Franciso BC" involving a murder, a bad haircut, a jewel thief, an encounter with a glass coffee table and some unrequited love! The "Party Barge" concludes with "Send us your co-ordinates, we'll send a Saint Bernard". Squirrels float in and out of songs like ciphers and the whole glorious ensemble is rounded out by some great playing and the vocal harmonies of DC and Cassie Berman. Album of the year? I remember 20 something years ago walking into the Bacchanal club in San Diego to see the extraordinary Beat Farmers. I haven't heard anything like this in 2 decades since!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed Silver Jews fan 25 Mar 2013
Format:Audio CD
I loved The Natural Bridge and American Water by the same band, but was disappointed with this one. It has its moments - I particularly liked My Pillow is the Threshold - but overall, I found it a touch bland in places (which isn't helped by the production) and the lyrics didn't seem to have quite the old cleverness. The backing vocals on Suffering Jukebox just made me suffer too.

But then other Jews fans like it. I would say it's one for people who like their music more on the upbeat side. I always liked SJ's darker moments the best and there just aren't enought of those here for me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great new direction for the Joos 17 Jun 2008
By J S - Published on
Format:Audio CD
There's something different about this one. Musically, you can kind of tell that it's a real band rather than just a bunch of friends and pickup musicians. This group has been playing together and it shows. The drums play on the beat instead of slouching behind, the bass is locked in solidly, and the guitars and keyboard chug, sizzle and gallop atop that solid platform.

Lyrically, it strikes me as quite different from David Berman's earlier work, though I haven't yet put my finger on exactly what is different about it, other than the two narrative lyrics ("Aloysius, Bluegrass Drummer" and "San Francisco, BC") -- I don't think Berman has written real stories into his songs like these before.

In a sense I miss the slacker voice of the earlier albums, with imagery thrown together in a way that almost appeared random, but was obviously the product of a lot of well-hidden craft. Musically, those songs fitted the lyrics. The band never sounded sloppy, but they never sounded so tight that you doubted their casual attitude towards the music.

But this one is a lot tighter, both musically and lyrically. And while the themes of self-doubt, despair and suicide are still there, they are a little further below the surface, and the suicides ("Candy Jail", "My Pillow is the Threshold" if I'm reading those songs right) are no longer the singer's but those of people he knew. It's really a much more optimistic album than any that came before, including Tanglewood Numbers. It's not cheery, but it seems to offer some solutions, rather than just problems. This is best seen in the songs that bookend the album. The first one offers a philosophy of future possibility rather than past/present despair, and the last also looks to a future with a realistic eye on the possibility of a mature love that just might last, if.

It's nice to see David Berman's head in a happier, healthier space after the anguish and despair (buried beneath casual ironic cool but unmistakable) that filled the grooves of Bright Flight.

A great album.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their most accessible album--and maybe their best 28 Jun 2008
By Greg Cleary - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I've always been a sucker for the Silver Jews' more accessible, more countryish songs. Some of my favorites are "Tennessee," "How to Rent A Room," "Black and Brown Blues," and "Random Rules." Well, this new album sounds like it was made just for me. It's so accessible that David Berman has even provided the chords for each of the songs, including a little chart showing where to put your fingers on the guitar neck, so you can play along with them if you'd like.

Cassie Berman is now a full-fledged member of the band, so those who don't like hearing a girl singing with the Silver Jews will have to either get over it or move on. I've always thought that her sweet voice provides the perfect counterpoint to Berman's gravelly baritone. And her bass playing blends right in.

After only three listens, "Suffering Jukebox" is an early favorite. It is classic Berman: a sincere ode to a jukebox that is ignored and neglected. And "Strange Victory, Strange Defeat" begins with the kind of couplet only Berman could write: "Squirrels imported from Connecticut just in time for fall/How much fun is a lot more fun? Not much fun at all." There is a long story-song called "San Francisco B.C." that may at first appear to be following in the footseps of "The Farmer's Hotel," but whereas the other song was slow-moving with impenetrable lyrics, this one is built around a peppy country riff and tells a funny story in which a bad haircut figures prominently. ("It was neatly trimmed but a patch was bare/I knew it wasn't new wave, it was human error.")

I agree with the first reviewer that this is the Jews' most optimistic album yet. It has a lot in common with previous songs like "Animal Shapes" and "I'm Getting Back Into Getting Back Into You" and very little in common with songs like "K-Hole" and "There Is A Place." Berman seems to have gotten past the darkness that dominated the previous album, "Tanglewood Numbers." Even when he sings about addiction (I think), he wraps it in candy metaphors: "Living in a candy jail with peppermint bars/Peanut brittle bunk beds and marshmallow walls."

As always, there is plenty of great wordplay, and as never before, there is a forward-thinking perspective, summed up perfectly in the final song, "We Could Be Looking for the Same Thing." The title says it all, really. This may be the Jews' best album yet.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea 15 Sep 2008
By S. D. Mason - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (2008, Drag City) Silver Jews' sixth studio album. ***1/2

Silver Jews is not an immediate sound you latch onto. In fact, it's nearly required that you be a fan of Johnny Cash and the Pixies to get into it. All their albums, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea included, are ones that grows with each listen. The opening "What Is Not But Could Be If" sounds like a lecture with lyrics like "What could appear in morning mist/With all associated risk/What is not but could be if." Alternatively, it can be completely idiotic, such as "Party Barge," which ends with Cassie Berman repeating "Send us your coordinates, I'll send a Saint Bernard."

Two moments are truly musically awe-inspiring; the vocally downing "Suffering Jukebox" and the folk sounds of "Strange Victory, Strange Defeat." The former is remarkable for its extended chorus, which again sees Cassie Berman letting loose with pleading lines. While it isn't as introspective as other Silver Jews releases, that's by no means a good or bad thing; if anything, it offers a balance to some of their more melodramatic work and lets David Berman's sense of humor shine through more. This isn't music that you'd hear at a party, but its sound is timeless. Namely, music like this ages very well. (Suffering Jukebox)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far From Their Best (But Still Quite Good) 31 Jan 2011
By Gregory William Locke - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Silver Jews singer/songwriter David Berman is either one backwards dude or, well, maybe he has it right and we`re all swimming backwards with snow pants on. While your everyday musician seems to be in their best (read: most naive) spirits early in their career (before they become stale or empty or forgotten) and beaten at some point in the middle of their career (before they fall into Greatest Hitsville or find a rare second artistic wind), Berman runs his own route.

After years of releasing great albums that paint him as an overly sophisticated, glass-completely-empty thinker with deep beliefs and emotions, Berman only recently seems to be getting satisfaction from his work, all of which (and I mean just about every song and poem he's written, no foolin') is worth getting to know. The upbeat accompaniments and playful lyrics of 2006's Tanglewood Numbers shot a flag into the indie-rock world's rain-filled skies, exposing a new side of Berman, the forever over-thinking songwriter known for his puzzle piece lyrics, one that would imply that not all of his punchlines are meant to be taken as critiques or, really, complaints.

The lyrical focus here is age and experience. Read up on Berman and you'll find that the man has no doubt already lived a life. That, and he's the rare authentic mix of sophisticate and gutter punk. On one hand, Berman once taught English as a graduate student at U-Mass and has a list of standing offers from book publishers; on the other, he's had his share of substance abuse problems and once took a size 12 boot to the face during a street fight that eventually led to the loss of sight in one eye. While on his first ever tour in 2005 (11 years after his first major release, but that's another story), Berman noticed something strange in the crowd each night. Kids. People sometimes half his still-young age. Since he'd never toured, Berman had no idea who was listening to his music, and thus figured it was people his age and older. Fellow sophisticates. After a number of his maturity-challenged fans approached him to let him know how much his lyrics meant to them, Berman got to thinking. The result is the sixth Silver Jews studio album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea.

There's little subtlety here; Berman is more or less giving straight-ahead advice - though often obscured by his brand of baffling poetics - to his young listeners. "Here's a shot of what I learned the hard way / Translate and make your own / I almost died / I hope you'll live," Berman sings on a track called "I'll Pretend to Be Yer Pappy, You Pretend it Matters." Okay, not really, but you get it. Anyone with a penchant for poetic breakdowns will find much to learn from these very thoughtful lyrics - and likely find much satisfaction from their deciphering. There's comedy and pain mixed in, as always, but, for the most part, Lookout is Berman's first set of mostly optimistic - or at least constructive - lyrics.

The music is stellar, too, but not perfect. Recorded with Berman's first ever consistent band of Jews (he usually works with a revolving door of musicians), the songs are meaty compared to other Jews recordings (especially the amazingly lean Bright Flight and kitchen-sink-grandness of Starlight Walker, two must-own albums). Here Berman takes the sometimes blown-out pop of Tanglewood and makes it louder, catchier and, well, downright strange at times. Truthfully, and I say this as a super fan of the band, it doesn't always work. There are many superfluous backing vocals by his wife/bassist, Cassie Berman, irritating sound effects, cheesy keyboards and other - mostly small - details spread throughout what sounds like a solid backbone. But, hey, the guy is happy and willing to take chances, nothing wrong with that.

Spread throughout the 10 tracks that make up Lookout's nearly 34-minute playtime are many growers. Most of the tracks sound "just fine" (read: not up to Jew par) initially, but as is the case with all Jews albums, the tunes grow exponentially after, say, 200 listens. Opener "What Is Not But Could Be If" is a true 20-something anthem, coming off as a syllabus of sorts for wandering minds bent on self-growth. The rough vocals will be off-putting to those unfamiliar with Berman's voice, but, as always, the charm and detail is all there, hidden in the cracks. "Suffering Jukebox" would be a killer single if not for the backing vocals. Ugh. They grow with time but really standout - in a bad way - upon first listen. The song is, at least as far as lyrics are concerned, the best song ever written about jukeboxes as a sampling of human growth, emotion and mystery. The writing, again, is unthinkably good throughout. "Strange Victory, Strange Defeat," no less, is one of the best written songs of the year. The vocals, again, aren't for everyone, but the music could easily be straight off of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain or even American Water - never a bad thing. "San Francisco, B.C." is another standout cut, but only because the storytelling is so ambitious, clever and academic. Really, listening to these songs today, after putting the album down for a month or so, I'm blown away. Proud to be a fan. There are problems here and there, but the songs do eventually set in and reveal themselves. That said, don't think too hard, just try to learn and enjoy these tunes - they'll make their way to you when you're ready.

Seemingly meant to be a more-approachable-than-ever Silver Jews album, Lookout will most likely initially bewilder longtime fans with it's many flaws and unexpectedly hopeful lyrics. (Lets face it, most Silver Jews fans like their tunes with a side of pain and pondering.) Here's to hoping Berman's fans - both old and young - are able to grow with their hero. The most confusing, surprising and at times rewarding album in the Silver Jews catalog, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea is just another in a long string of examples as to why Berman is one of the best - and most artistically restless - writers of his time. A ponder-worthy grower from a man worthy of all the hero-speak.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surely a Strange Victory 9 Oct 2008
By gonzobrarian - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea is the latest release from The Silver Jews, and in my opinion it's the most consistent album released by David Berman. Like all SJ releases, it contains the typical amount of sly resignation and witty slacker-sophistication from an eternally sobering songwriter. Berman laments the fate of the suffering jukeboxes in happy towns, country restroom on the radio, the illicit exploits of lard connoisseurs, the importation of squirrels and chicken-fried pigeon in preparation for the onslaught of autumn, and most importantly, the gooey, candy-coated imprisonments we willingly and routinely place ourselves in.

The Silver Jews is a branded band made in the mold of all the current under-the-radar greats such as Neko Case, Giant Sand, Calexico, The Handsome Family, etc. Slightly dark, weird and esoteric? Absolutely, but certainly the music is original, imaginative and with that distinctive southwestern / alt. country flair making it anachronistic enough to be cutting edge.

I daresay that this album may be enough to propel the Silver Jews just beyond their typical squirrelly fan base, but probably and regrettably not enough for mainstream play. It's a shame, since Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea really is a strange victory.
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