A beautiful mess of indie rock, country-rock and lo-fi with lyrics both witty and profound, the Silver Jews were formed in 1989 by writer/musician David Berman with his friends, guitarist/singer Stephen Malkmus and drummer Bob Nastanovich. The trio performed together as Ectoslavia when they studied at the University of Virginia; after graduation, they moved to New York and shared an apartment. Dubbing themselves the Silver Jews -- after the Silver Apples, the Silver Beatles, and slang for blonde-haired Jewish people -- they played noisy, often improvised songs, mostly for the sheer enjoyment they got out of playing together after a hard day's work. At the time, Berman and Malkmus were guards at an art museum and Nastanovich was a bus driver. After work, they would record songs into people's answering machines, but even after the band's sonics improved, the basic idea of friends playing together in a spontaneous way became the Silver Jews' trademark style.