Archive for ” Galaxie 500

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.

 

Are The Koolaid Electric Company The Great Lost Shoegaze Band?

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on February 11, 2010 by johnbuckley100

The Koolaid Electric Company were first spotted by our detective when they were mysteriously served up by Last.FM as part of the black ryder radio stream.  Hmmm, who were these guys?  The sound was something Kramer would have coaxed out of Galaxy 500 on a frozen night in Soho: all Sterling Morrison lead atop crudish rhythm guitar with not much more than tambourine as an afterthought.  Cool!

We started pulling on threads… their MySpace page didn’t give up much… and all we could find on iTunes was a single song in a Dead Bees sampler podcast.  Google, the detective’s friend, linked us to — of course! — a KeepMusicEvil.com forum.  Naturally, they’d fall in the orbit around the Brian Jonestown Massacre.  From there we were directed by a one-eyed, mohawk-tonsured, uh, short person in a tuxedo to the ApolloAudio site, where, yay, an EP was downloadable (though not without some hiccups.)

The KeepMusicEvil experts tantalizingly included a post from someone who, in April 2008, claimed that the Koolaid Electric Company’s first album was BEING MIXED IN THE ROOM NEXT TO HIM.  And then, silence, the trail cold.

Ah, but the music is very warm: full-fledged Velvets goo mixed in a blender with the BJM, and Spaceman 3, with a sprinkling of Dandys and soupcon of The Darkside.  To be continued….

The Warlocks’ “Mirror Explodes” And The Shards Shine Darkly

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , on May 21, 2009 by johnbuckley100

When L.A. psychedelic masters The Warlocks released 2003’s Phoenix, it was filled with enough exuberance for a Modern Lovers album.  “Shake The Dope Out” even kinda sounded like “Roadrunner.”  And then there was “Baby Blue,” as sweet a confection of SoCal Britpop as anything produced by BJM or members of the Paisley Underground.

But things got darker from there, witness the titles of their next two albums — Surgery and Heavy Deavey Skull Lover. This was disappointing, because at their best, The Warlock’s were the Alpha dogs of the nascent American neopsychedelic scene — big brothers to the Black Angels, regional counterparts to Vancouver’s Black Mountain.  They are the grandparents of First Communion After Party, the ones that show up and leave cigarettes in the punch bowl and ashes right next to the rosary that was the gift of Aunt Martha. They could bash their way darkly through six-minute guitar fests with Bobby Heksher singing like some exile from The Darkside, like maybe the member of Spaceman 3 who was left on launch pad because he was just too heavy to get into orbit.  Call him Spaceman 4.

Now comes The Mirror Explodes, and it’s the best thing they’ve done in six years. Maybe the concoctions they consume keep them from ever returning to the relative innocence of their Phoenix days, but they’ve sure resurrected themselves from the ashes. Okay, so the opening song sounds like late ’80s Sonic Youth, and surely “There Is A Formula To Your Despair” was swiped from Kramer’s apartment after an early Galaxie 500 session.  But these are compliments, man.  They’ve got a little of their swagger back, even if it’s 33 RPM swagger in a 45 RPM world.  The Mirror Explodes, and after you duck, you realize things are shining brightly all around the room.

Dean Wareham’s “Black Postcards” Reads Like A Song By Luna

Posted in Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 18, 2008 by johnbuckley100

There’s not going to be a Luna reunion anytime soon — not now that Dean Wareham has written a funny, candid, rock’n’roll memoir about life in two of indy rock’s greatest bands: Galaxie 500 and Luna. Luna’s other guitarist Sean Eden will likely not forgive him for the portrait Wareham paints, and in fact future collaborators would be well advised to watch their step when working with Dean; he’s not just a gloriously tasteful guitar god, he’s also a really amusing reporter whose now written one of the great chronicles on life in a band that, while providing pleasure to its fans for a decade or more, never quite got to the verge.

When Luna’s final album, “Rendezvous,” came out in 2004, it seemed like Wareham had nothing much left to say.  At least nothing much left to sing: the songs were sonically gorgeous, and his guitar playing was casually perfect; he’s such a naturally gifted musician, he barely had to strain to showcase his chops. But the lyrics at the end consisted of couplets like, “She’s got a rosy future/in her Juicy Couture.” Thankfully, “Black Postcards” shows the Dalton School and Harvard-educated Wareham still capable of writing funny, snarky prose.  In fact, it’s written in exactly the voice we’d expect of Wareham, only with more bite.

This should be required reading for aspiring rockers.  For the one or two bands each year who become big enough to travel in style, there are dozens who bump around the countryside in the backs of cramped vans, hungover and with a crick in their neck, trying to find the next venue.  Luna, who recorded some great albums but never had a hit, were one of the ones touring for life support while the music industry crashed and burned around them.

Here’s Wareham on the dichotomy between being a critical success with Galaxie 500 and having to take a day job to pay the rent: “Sure, I had my photo on the front of the Arts and Leisure section, but I was also broke.  I found a temp job at Italian Vogue magazine, just for the holiday season.  I was one of two administrative assistants in a small office in the Conde Nast building.  The other secretary, a Puerto Rican lady, laughed at me.  ‘You’re in a band? Your band must not be so popular, or you wouldn’t be working here.”

He’s got wonderful insights, harbored and husbanded over years in which he kept good notes.  From why bands break up — mostly because the enforced camaraderie of life on the road makes them so get on each others’ nerves– to why the best drummers tend to come from the suburbs — houses in the suburbs have basements in which you can make a racket.  It’s a wise and entertaining read even if you weren’t a Luna fan (though it helps.)

I was a Luna fan.  A major one.  I saw them a dozen or more times over the years.  For years, “Penthouse” was my favorite album and their live shows were the way we punctuated the calendar.  I once went to a party in my Washington neighborhood where a woman who was identified by her husband as the best friend of Dean Wareham’s wife, told the story about her getting a phone call from her friend.  Wareham’s wife had confided that Dean was having an affair with Britta Phillips, the strikingly attractive bass player who had recently joined the band.  “She said she’d given him an ultimatum: break up the band, or end the marriage.”  

“Omigod,” I blurted out.  “I hope he ends the marriage.”

My wife hit me.  Really hard.

By the end — and I saw Luna’s last D.C. show, a few weeks before they packed it in — the song “Black Postcard”, written at least three years previously, had acquired an elegiac finality. “I’m tired of having no future, and I’m tired of pushing my luck, and I’m tired of waiting for the endgame, watching the stars go black/Throw it all away, throw it all away/I want a holiday.”

It was time.  Thankfully Wareham kept writing down contemporaneous observations, and proved himself as skillful with a keyboard as he is with a fretboard.

 

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