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Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

Singer Sing

It was two years ago today that Luna, my dear, beloved Luna, played their final show at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City and yes, it still brings a tear to my eye (figuratively, at least) to think that one of my favourite bands in the world is gone.

But then I hear things like Back Numbers, the new record from Dean & Britta and their first post-Luna release, and realize that there is life after Luna and it actually sounds great. Like their first release as a duo, 2003’s L’Avventura, Back Numbers blends covers and originals in a sonic haze that’s as retro as it is timeless-sounding. Keyboards, vibes and drum machines burble in the background and Wareham’s distinctive guitarwork is still present though without the presence of Sean Eden, his six-string sparring partner for over a decade, he sounds more interested in textures than leads.

Wareham also opts to cede most of the lead vocals to Phillips but those who’ve come to this record via Luna, and I imagine that’s pretty much everyone, fear not – Dean’s narcoleptic twang is still here, it just seems he’d rather listen to his wife sing rather than do so himself. And you can’t really blame him – her voice is like honey, especially in such a musical context, and whether she’s wrapping it around melodies like that on “White Horses” (the theme to an old ’60s television program) or belting out the chorus to Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra’s “You Turned My Head Around”, it’s a thing of beauty. You really can’t fault him for wanting to sit back and let her go.

If it makes any sense, Back Numbers feels very much like but also entirely unlike a Luna record. You could easily imagine any of these songs appearing on an album or as a b-side, yet as a whole you couldn’t imagine the collection ever coming out under that name. But while their old band was never what you’d call tightly wound, this record sounds relaxed and laid back in a way that none of Luna’s ever did. It was evident in their swan song tour, documented in Tell Me Do You Miss Me (which I still have to watch the commentary for!), that Wareham was worn down and just plain tired with the grind of being in a touring band – perhaps this is the sound of a man with a few hundred hours of sleep under his belt and a renewed interest in creating music? But whatever it is, if this is a sign of things to come than Wareham may become the (very) rare artist who can lay claim to helming not one, not two but three excellent and distinct bands over the course of his career, and not one of them a formal solo project. Who else can say that?

Village Voice catches up with Dean and Britta about the record and their other post-Luna projects (she does voice work for Adult Swim’s Moral Orel, he’s been writing a memoir which should be done this year) and in a couple weeks they head out on tour in support of the record, including a March 12 show at the Mod Club. The Jewish Legend supports. The record is also doing well early on at Metacritic, and deservedly so.

MP3: Dean & Britta – “Words You Used To Say”
MP3: Dean & Britta – “Singer Sing”
Video: Dean & Britta – “Words You Used To Say” (YouTube)
MySpace: Dean & Britta

Dean and Britta aren’t the only former Luna members being productive – Sean Eden’s new outfit Elk City will release their new album New Believers on April 17 and what I’ve heard sounds great. Again, not especially Luna-like but Eden’s distinctive style is easy to pick out and it fits well. Looking forward to hearing the full album and four out of five Wolf Notes agree.

MP3: Elk City – “Cherries In The Snow”
MP3: Elk City – “Los Cruzados”

And finally, just because. Yes I do miss you.

MP3: Luna – “Friendly Advice” (live)

Thanks to Bradley’s Almanac for the tip off that Centro-Matic will be releasing an 8-track EP called Operation Motorcide this Spring.

Miss out on tickets to Of Montreal’s sold-out show at the Opera House on March 13? Want to maximize your odds of seeing Kevin Barnes whip it out? Head to Soundscapes at 4PM on the day of the show where Of Montreal will be doing an acoustic in-store set.

And The New Pollution talks to Emil Svanangen of Loney, Dear who are touring with Of Montreal, though not the Toronto date. Hopefully he/they will be coming through town later in the year, though I’m definitely intending to catch on of his/their many shows at SxSW next month.

Artwork you should be looking for on record store shelves in May – More Cowbell has the cover for Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky, out May 15, and Pitchfork has the art and tracklisting for The National’s Boxer, out May 22.

JAM! talks to Emerge honcho Jacob Smid about the plans for this year’s edition of VFest, happening in May in Vancouver and September 8 and 9 in Toronto. They’ll be announcing the lineup in a month or two, but expect it to number around 40 acts, though if the acts are in line with Vancouver’s alt.rock-heavy lineup – which as I’ve said before certainly makes better business sense than catering to the mythical indie kid disposable income – I may give it a pass. There’s never a shortage of great stuff coming through town in early September and wouldn’t want to miss one of those in exchange for seeing My Chemical Romance.

By : Frank Yang at 8:18 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Jack says:

    Ugh, VFest was absolutely dreadful. I almost hope that they load it up with My Chemical Romance and other rubbish so that I’m not tempted to go back there. My fear is that they’ll have someone like Arcade Fire as the headliner on the Sunday night, just to rope in haters like myself.

    I wonder if BSS are planning another island gig this summer. Probably not…

  2. Thierry says:

    That’s not a bad picture of the lovely Britta Phillips, is it? Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad picture of her…*sigh*

  3. giselle says:

    i’m still in mourning about luna … it boggles my mind that celine dion makes millions whereas luna only made a profit on their last european tour by selling t-shirts

    definitely looking forward to back numbers and my fingers are crossed for a vancouver show

  4. juepucta says:

    Man i miss Luna too. But this new album is good stuff too.

    I agree with the previous commenter in that Britta cannot look bad. Funny thing is that all the promo pics for this album, the ones with the shorts, have Dean looking like she hasn’t noticed the foxy gogo dancer next to him. Except for the one Frank picked for this post. This one is more like "i wonder if those boots are suede?".

    -G.

  5. studio360 says:

    This week Dean and Britta were featured on Studio 360, Public Radio International’s Peabody Award winning weekly show about creativity, pop culture and the arts hosted by novelist, journalist and co-founder of legendary Spy Magazine Kurt Andersen. I thought you might be interested in including a link to this week’s show on your blog. http://www.studio360.org/ep

    Studio360intern@wnyc.org

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