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.
Take a listen.