Archive for Dean and Britta

Dean Wareham’s Warm Heart Pastry

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Dean Wareham’s Emancipated Hearts was released today.  Not quite an E.P., not quite an album, it is — when the B-side to “Love Is Colder Than Death”  is added to the tally — six new Wareham compositions and a cover of The Incredible String Band’s “Air.”  It is a beautiful, modest collection of songs that make us yearn for more — more Wareham in any form he’s willing to give us: solo artist, in tandem with Britta Phillips, or as a leader of a band.

While “The Deadliest Day Since The Invasion Begins” hauntingly lingers in the mind, the title track, “Emancipated Hearts,” is the stunner here.  When you think about Wareham’s sensibility — writing often gorgeous melodies, post-folk sensitive songs as pretty as anything by Robyn Hitchcock — it’s a revelation to realize we’ve never really heard one of his songs with a piano on it, and only rarely with cello or viola.  Wareham has always surrounded his melodies with delectable guitar lines, so purely in the mode of Sterling Morrison’s work with the Velvet Underground that, in fact, the ur-Luna breakthrough, “Friendly Advice,” even featured Morrison.  Here, though, we have piano and viola as emollients and the resulting raga completes a circle, as “Emancipated Hearts” sounds like it could easily have been a collaboration with the fellow-traveling Velvets acolyte Anton Newcombe on some long lost  Brian Jonestown Massacre album, even as it weaves in the tune from “The Little Drummer Boy.”

On Dean and Britta’s 13 Most Beautiful, Wareham recycled Luna’s “The Enabler” as “Herringbone Tweed,” updating a melody for his post-Luna incarnation.  Here he builds “The Ticking Of The Bomb” on the chassis of Luna’s “Hello Little One,” and with the expanded instrumentation used here, it takes a pleasing melody into breathtaking sublimity.  More of this, sir, please?  In fact, the whole mini-album is a tease, like reading a short story in The New Yorker by your favorite author, and while savoring it, it produces that feeling that will only be satisfied by a whole new book.

We love that he chose to play “Air,” a song by the Incredible String Band, and wish only that he could have recorded ISB leader Mike Heron’s “Warm Heart Pastry.”  This is an aspect of Wareham’s talent that is under-exploited: reviving sounds of late ’60s British folk rock.  Again, let’s have some more of this, Dean, ok?

Last week we wondered if Wareham was hinting at a Luna reunion in his review of the new Mazzy Star album.  We don’t really care what form more music from Dean Wareham comes in: a solo album of requisite length, more work with Britta, reunion of Luna.  It has been about eight years since Luna broke up, and on 13 Most Beautiful and now on Emancipated Hearts we have a reminder of how Dean Wareham is a talent of the first rank, his heart emancipated, his songwriting reliant on more than just his magical guitar work to fulfill a song.  May we have another helping?

UPDATE: The original version of this post stated that this was the first collection ever released by “Dean Wareham.”  Our friends at A Headful of Wishes pushed back on this assertion.  So it turns out the “Anesthesia” E.P., released in 1992, really was a “Dean Wareham” release.  We stand corrected.  Because two of the three songs on it were on Luna’s initial release, Lunapark, and because we never saw the 12″ or 7″ vinyl releases, we always assumed this was Luna, and it was a mistake to credit it to Wareham.  Live and learn.

First Communion Afterparty Reunite For Next Week’s Bathysphere Psychefest

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2013 by johnbuckley100

First Communion Afterparty were (are?) the best band to emerge from the squall of the past decade’s neo-psychedelica, and their break-up, two years ago — before releasing Earth Heat Sound, their follow up to their brilliant debut, Sorry For All The Mondays and to Those Who Can’t Sing — was a bummer of the first rank.  But now comes an Owsley-pure jolt of good news: not only are FCAP going to be appearing at next Friday’s Bathysphere: A Psychonautical Voyage, but in the weeks ahead, they are going to perform again, when they release, posthumously if in the flesh, Earth Heat Sound.

The Bathysphere psychefest at First Avenue in Minneapolis, promises to be the best spot on the globe you could be on July 5th, with Dean and Britta headlining, but also our faves Magic Castles, Flavor Crystals, and even Sonic Boom of Spaceman 3 appearing.  Secret Colours, a young Chicago band whose astonishing album Peach has just been released, are a fitting addition to a lineup that also includes stalwarts The Volta Sound.  If you are anywhere between Pittsburg and Sioux Falls on the 4th, get in your rainbow-colored VW bus and head to Minneapolis.

We know about next week’s Bathysphere, and the glorious news about First Communion Afterparty, due to the tip provided by  the very helpful Twin City denizen Ben Schultz, who not only gave us this info, but also steered us toward Is/Is, one of the FCAP offshoot bands.  Additionally, Ben turned us on to Mojo Pin-Up, a presumably deceased combo including Liam Watkins of FCAP with members of the Magic Castles, whose tailings, deposited across the web, are tantalizing.

The other FCAP offshoot to keep your eye on is Driftwood Pyre, whose early demos capture the same magic as First Communion Afterparty — that same melding of Jefferson Airplane and the Brian Jonestown Massacre that gets our heart fluttering faster their our cranial synapses.

So, lots to chew on.  And here are your instructions: First Communion Afterparty return to play next weekend, and will finally release the album we’ve waited for since 2008; set a reminder to buy Earth Heat Sound, and if you haven’t already listened to Sorry For All The Mondays, aw, man, what are you waiting for?  Set your GPS on next Friday’s Bathysphere psychefest in Minneapolis.  Immediately go buy Secret Colours’ amazing new album Peach. Track down Mojo Pin-Up.  Wait for new happenings from Is/Is, and get excited, now, for Driftwood Pyre.

Thing are looking bright, no?

Dean Wareham Is Preparing To Record A Solo Album

Posted in Music with tags , , , on January 17, 2012 by johnbuckley100

In a brief and illuminating interview that was published last week, ex-Luna leader Dean Wareham outlines plans for a solo album.  Yes, Britta will be on it, so there’s no news there.  He just avers the boy-girl song-trading has limitations.

Oh, and by the way, his tour diary from the recent Japanese shows he did of Galaxie 500 material was published in the Paris Review.

Here’s a sample:

From the stage tonight I notice three different people crying as I sing “Blue Thunder,” which is a song about the power-steering action in my old 1975 Dodge Dart and doesn’t quite seem worth crying about, though admittedly it is also a song about being alone behind the wheel, and I wail about driving “so far away,” so maybe that’s what did it.

I recently played this song in São Paulo and young Brazilians sang and smiled and danced; it’s odd that the same song evokes smiles in São Paulo and tears in Tokyo. Of course there can be joy and sadness in a song at the same moment, and when you have been waiting five or ten or twenty years to hear a song live, it can hit you with surprising force.

Read the whole thing.  It’s fun, and as we know from Black Postcards, the man can write.

 

Dean and Britta’s “13 Most Beautiful” Songs

Posted in Music with tags , , on August 14, 2010 by johnbuckley100

For a decade or more Luna was our favorite band.  Some may have found Dean Wareham’s voice offputting, the lyrics occasionally corny, but if you believe in the Unified Field Theory wherein the best rock’n’roll connects to mythical Sterling Morrison/Velvet Underground guitar chords, you had to like Luna. If all the best strands lead back to the VU, Luna was the most tasteful spider in that web.  When Wareham broke up the band a few years ago, we admit to feeling an emptiness that has not since been alleviated.

Dean and Britta were a poor substitution, and no offense to Britta, it was mostly because the absence of Sean Eden and Lee Wahl meant Wareham wasn’t really playing in a band.  So the brilliance of “13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests” was a welcome surprise.  In fact, their version of the Velvet Underground’s lost gem, “I’m Not A Young Man Anymore” is the song of the summer.

We were skeptical, given how bad the Cale/Reed collaboration on “Songs For Drella” was, that a Warhol-inspired album could work.  This one does.  Oh, not every song.  But enough of them are prime Luna/VU/Young Marble Giants gems that it almost feels like we have Luna back.

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