What does friendship sound like? An impossible question, perhaps, but this collection of the 14 tracks from Silver Jews’ first two EPs of 1990/91 comes close to answering. Before Pavement, or even Silver Jews’ own measured, melancholic “country” recordings in the decade that followed, a portion of each band joined together after work to make these scratchy, embryonic recordings on what sounds like boomboxes and Dictaphones.
Now, if that sounds horrendous to you, rest assured that the recordings will too. But if you can listen to the frameworks of songs and evident humour beneath the hiss, there’s plenty to get the juices flowing. Bob Nastanovich and Steven Malkmus, along with “mainman” David Berman, make a sound not a million miles from Pavement’s first few singles, albeit more ramshackle (yes, that’s possible).
Welcome To The House Of Bats is insistent in its repetition, while The Walnut Falcon ably demonstrates Berman’s knack for taking a lyric and stretching it to an illogical, abstract conclusion. Snuck away at the end is Bar Scene From Star Wars, which instrumentally hints at the subtlety all three members would later excel at. But that came later. Early Times is three mates seeing what works, and enjoying the results regardless.