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Luna (photo: Joakim)
Luna (photo: Joakim)

We got there driving along the hills, hundreds of sheep walking around on the green grass, on the slopes, a big beautiful rainbow bowed grandly far away. Heavy clouds but the sun shone through in between them. It was magical. I just stared. Rolled down the window and breathed in the fresh air. Had to stop a couple of times to open gates so we could pass. And push away sheep just laying there on the small gravel road. We got to the house. It looks like a small castle, made of stone. It's on the southern English countryside. We had tea and biscuits with Andy's family. His son Adam, his cousin, his father and uncle too. There were daughters and boyfriends too. A nice dog.

“This documentary is about ten years old”, I say and Andy's father is commenting again. “Have they improved?”

Andy's father once saw Dean & Britta play and they met after the show. He told Dean “you should let Britta sing more". Dean quoted it himself in his blog at the time.

A stew was cooking in a huge heavy iron pot, and a big butternut squash was getting ready to be chopped in smaller pieces and roasted in the oven. “What band are you following?”, they asked us.

Andy put on the credit part of the Tell Me Do You Miss Me documentary. While the credits are shown, with Andy's name at the top of the thank you list, 23 Minutes in Brussels is played. We are sitting in this kitchen, everyone is watching, some extraordinary live shots of the band is shown with the credits. Chocolate biscuits with almonds and dried fruit. The British love those kind of things. Dean is a playing a solo, the swirling light from the small TV in the kitchen flashes.

It looks like a small castle (photo: Joakim)
It looks like a small castle (photo: Joakim)

It's quiet for some seconds, a bit unusual in this family I think. "So you saw them yesterday too", Andy's cousin asks. "And the day before that too?" We are forced to have one more cookie. We split it in two and eat, it's very tasty. “Actually tonight will be the eighth time this trip”, we tell them. The happy dog runs from knee to knee, the tail's wagging back and forth. The fur is silky smooth. “This documentary is about ten years old”, I say and Andy's father is commenting again. “Have they improved?”

After the extra day in New York, when Britta sent us the e-mail asking us if we wanted to have dinner with them, we flew to Manchester. In Manchester, we checked in to our beautiful hotel and Ulrika fell asleep right away. With ocean sounds in her earbuds, she likes to listen swelling waves when she's sleeping. And to A Swinging Safari when she's flying. Music is comforting. I went out for a walk and to meet our friend Bengt. He hasn't listened to Luna much, but decided to travel around the UK with us.

Read on…

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Vote for LUNA ~ promo 1994
Vote for LUNA ~ promo 1994

This may have slipped a bit under the radar, but it's been 25 years since the low-key debut of an indie supergroup was released in 1992. In this age of ubiquitous pop-culture anniversary celebrations, that news could portend a re-release, a tribute show, or any number of walks down memory lane. In this case, there's another significance as well: 2017 is the year Luna becomes eligible for the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

Of course, a group once dubbed “the best band you've never heard of” by a national music magazine [Rolling Stone magazine, 199?] isn't likely to be inducted to such a commercial monolith any time soon, but as that appellation indicates, the quality Luna has shown over the years is certainly at Hall of Fame level. Hailing from three good-to-great independent outfits (Galaxie 500, The Chills and The Feelies), the original trio found a captivating style from day one which was only enhanced by the addition of a second guitarist after the debut.

In the 90s, Luna was already in my contemporary pantheon at a par with my favorite grunge, lo-fi, and Americana artists; today, Luna sounds more timeless and perfect than any of them.

Focus on critical perception rather than critical mass, and you'll notice the band's resumé is comparable to many of the already enshrined: The first three albums were all exceedingly well-reviewed, and the following records all have their partisans. The third release, Penthouse, is considered an indie-pop masterpiece, and they boast terrific singles, some groundbreaking covers (especially Bonnie and Clyde), and a sound of their own which managed to carve a small niche in the well-trod ground of rock.

Their enthusiasts might even argue that Luna is too good for the Hall, and they'd have a point: a quick perusal of the honorees shows an ever-diluting list rife with lightweights and mediocrities. Bands of their cultish status are rarely included, Velvet Underground aside, and were it not for some genuine immortals on the soul/R&B side, you could arguably make a Hall of Fame of semi-popular artists that would rival or exceed the mainstream institution.

Read on…

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Galaxie 500
Galaxie 500

A video of Galaxie 500 being interviewed on UK telly promoting On Fire has just turned up on YouTube, this goes alongside other UK appearances that have been around for a while…

This tells us two things…

  • The UK really did love Galaxie 500!
  • Music on telly was so much better back then, can you imagine Galaxie 500 getting on national TV now!?

Anyway, enough of me moaning - enjoy the clips:

Galaxie 500 - Transmission (ITV, 1989)
Seize the day, and try and sell a lot of T-shirts
Galaxie 500 - Rapido (BBC, 1990)
They're so eclectic they even dip into the perplexing oevre of that former professional avant-gardist turned professional rock widow Yoko Ono for a version of the very deep Listen The Snow is Falling, how evocative, how meaningful, how to say… Rapido
Galaxie 500 - SNUB TV (BBC, 1990)
Not much variation, sometimes it's verse, verse chorus sometimes it's verse, chorus, verse, chorus
They never write in an American review 'this is a great pop song', that's like an oxymoron

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The New Analog by Damon Krukowski
The New Analog by Damon Krukowski

Damon Krukowski's book The New Analog is officially released next weekend although it's already apparently in shops and my copy is winging it's way across the ocean from Amazon so I guess release dates are fluid in modern publishing.

Damon heads out on a tour to promote the book - talking his way around the bookshops and radio stations of North America ~ go catch him if you get the chance - there's a full list of dates on damonandnaomi.com

The tour opens tonight at <a href-"http://ccva.fas.harvard.edu/damon-krukowski-new-analog-listening-and-reconnecting-digital-world">The Carpenter Centre in Cambridge MA</a> where Damon will be talking to Amanda Palmer.

Buy The New Analog from Amazon.com

No Euro distribution yet but you can still order the book from Amazon.co.uk for a fairly reasonable price if you can't wait for it to get released over here.

Damon tweeted that he'll be reading the book for an Audible release so you may want to wait for that if you prefer.

Damon Krukowski - The New Analog Tour
Damon Krukowski - The New Analog Tour

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Luna - Penthouse
Luna - Penthouse

Luna's 1995 masterpiece Penthouse will be getting a deluxe double album release for Record Store Day on 22nd April.

Legendary band's most revered album and one that was listed in Rolling Stone's list of Best Albums of the 1990s. After reforming in 2015, the band have toured extensively in the US, while being written about everywhere from the NY Times, Salon and The Washington Post to the New Yorker and Pitchfork. The band hae played a number of "Penthouse" complete shows, and plan to do more in 2017. The original album has been specially remastered for vinyl by Scott Hull at Masterdisk and expanded with a second disc of unreleased tracks, rare b-sides and demos, including covers of Wire's "Outdoor Miner", Serge Gainsbourg's "Bonnie & Clyde" (featuring Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab) and Talking Heads' "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel" most of which appearing on LP for the first time. Features five previously unreleased tracks, including an extended version of the classic "23 Minutes in Brussels".

Tracklist

LP 1 side A

  • Chinatown
  • Sideshow By The Seashore
  • Moon Palace
  • Double Feature
  • 23 Minutes in Brussels

LP 2 side A

  • Lost In Space
  • Rhythm King
  • Kalamazoo
  • Hedgehog
  • Freakin' and Peakin'

LP 2 side A

  • Chinatown (Salvati Mix)
  • 24 Minutes in Brussels
  • Rhythm King (Salvati Mix)
  • Tracy I Love You
  • Thank You For Sending Me An Angel

LP 2 side B

  • Bonnie & Clyde (Clyde Barrow Version)
  • Bob Le Flambeur
  • Sideshow By The Seashore (Salvati Mix)
  • Freakin' and Peakin' (Salvati Mix)
  • Outdoor Miner

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The perfect shot, a clean shot (photo: Ulrika)
The perfect shot, a clean shot (photo: Ulrika)

I played the best pool game of my life that night. The guy we met at the bar didn’t stand a chance against my world class playing. The black 8 ball was just left and I was going to end the game in style, hit it hard, faster than a bullet. I pointed out where I was going to hit it, nothing could stop me. And her version of Drive makes me fall in love again. Again and again. Nothing’s wrong. Can’t go wrong. I swiped my face with my shirt, looked at Ulrika and Mike, my best friends, and I looked at the guy we met. He was in awe, couldn’t believe how good I was. I was good. I hit it hard. The perfect shot, a clean shot, but the 8 ball ended up in the wrong corner and I lost the game of my life.

Dean Wareham of Luna in San Francisco (photo: Joakim)
Dean Wareham of Luna in San Francisco (photo: Joakim)

“I wanna thank my awesome band”, she says, “who needs no introduction”. No I guess they don’t, it’s a pretty awesome band, and you are too Britta. Falling In Love. Britta is singing beautifully, ocean waves sounds in the background, that’s what I hear, the combination of pre-recorded tracks and live instruments works well. Just like many others I normally prefer no pre-recorded tracks, but Britta wants to do it her way, sound different from Luna, and that’s good. Her voice is so strong and her appearance is so captivating that seeing her fumbling with a laptop is frustrating when you just want to lose yourself in her eyes and her voice and her appearance. Her music. But that’s what she wants. That can’t be wrong. I followed her from Stockholm to Californ’.

We went to Brasserie Saint-James just like we always did, each night, Carly, Peter and Kelly came too, to say hello, Carly with her big beautiful sparkling eyes, I was was lost in her eyes, something in her eyes, didn’t I know it, and her big smile, and Peter is the nicest, he said we had met before and I hope so. Caught with a drink in my hand. Dean is up there again, tongue tied in the corner, no he’s not, really. It’s them again, this band that we’re following, travelling around the world to see. Tonight, they are playing the Bewitched album in San Francisco, from start to finish, and Friendly Advice is up next, I’m there with my friends, Frank and Marjorie, Mike, Giselle and Ulrika. And Lee is up there, hitting those cymbals, it crashes, like a storm, ocean waves crashing, and there’s nothing else to do, just be thankful, so thankful that they’re doing it again.

Read on…

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Luna Spanish tour poster - 2017
Luna Spanish tour poster - 2017

Luna are heading back to Spain for a series of shows in October. The dates are listed below and tickets for some of the shows are on sale now. No word yet of any other European dates… but, fingers crossed!

3 October 2017 Sala de Camara del Kursaal, San Sebastian, Spain
5 October 2017 Escenario, Santander, Spain
9 October 2017 Sala Joy Eslava, Madrid, Spain
11 October 2017 Bikini, Barcelona, Spain
12 October 2017 Ram Club, Valencia, Spain
13 October 2017 Kafe Antzokia, Bilbao, Spain
14 October 2017 Teatre Municipal Xesc Forteza, Mallorca, Spain

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The New Analog by Damon Krukowski
The New Analog by Damon Krukowski

Next month Damon Krukowski will be heading out on a solo talking tour to discuss and promote his forthcoming book The New Analog.

The book will be released on the 22nd April (Record Store Day - but suspect there'll be copies to buy at the dates before that) and during the tour he will be speaking to such vocal and opinionated luminaries as Amanda Palmer, former Steve Albini and Ian Svenonious (author of Supernatural Strategies for making a Rock 'n' Roll Group).

An early review of The New Analog appeared on Kirkus a few days ago…

The book is less a study of older formats’ current popularity and more a survey of the struggles between permanence and ephemera, as well as artists’ visions and the consumer marketplace, playing out over decades of technological and industry changes.

[…]

Krukowski’s writing is witty and generally accessible, though his detours into recording minutiae and avant-garde ideas about sound and art may lose some readers.

As a fan of both minutiae and avant-garde ideas I'd consider the last paragraph a selling point!

18 April 2017 Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
20 April 2017 KEXP, Seattle, WA, USA
22 April 2017 PopCon 2017, The Museum of Popular Culture, Seattle, WA, USA
24 April 2017 Powell's on Hawthorne, Portland, OR, USA
26 April 2017 City Lights Books, San Francisco, CA, USA
27 April 2017 Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes, CA, USA
30 April 2017 Book Soup, Los Angeles, CA, USA
2 May 2017 Quimby's, Chicago, IL, USA
4 May 2017 Civilian Art Projects, Washington DC, USA
6 May 2017 Rough Trade NYC, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Damon Krukowski
Damon Krukowski

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Within These Walls
Within These Walls

Damon & Naomi's beautiful 2007 album Within These Walls is getting a belated vinyl release this month.

In 2007, we conceived of Within These Walls as a DIY tribute to the great “mood” albums of Sinatra’s Capitol years, which we were listening to obsessively. So we recorded our new songs with real strings, real horns, real drums, and the very very real electric guitarist Michio Kurihara. It’s meant to be a chamber record with ebow and wah-wah.

And then we looked at our recent vinyl sales, and put it out on CD only. (Cue sad trombone, the one horn we neglected to include.)

The album is available to order from the 20|20|20 store, and should be available in your friendly, neighbourhood, bricks and mortar shop soon.

Within These Walls. In what is undoubtedly their darkest record ever, filled with emotional songs and highly personal lyrics, Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang explore the depths of the human condition, its pain and loss and tragedy balled up with the quiet beauty of existence.

And, beyond life itself, where to look for inspiration on such solemn topics? Everyone has their own sources, but Krukowski and Yang took it directly to the Chairman of the Board. “We bought lots of Frank Sinatra LPs, cleaning out the local stores. He released one sad album and one happy album a year, you can tell by whether he’s smiling or frowning on the cover.” Inspired by the way Sinatra sustained a single mood across an entire LP, Damon & Naomi set about recording the most emotionally consistent album of their career. It is also their most elaborately orchestrated.

Within These Walls press release (September 2007)
Damon & Naomi, and Frank
Damon & Naomi, and Frank
Damon & Naomi - Within These Walls

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