Happy 25th birthday to Luna’s third album, the masterpiece that is Penthouse!
Obviously an efficiently run fan-site would have been ready for such a milestone but as yesterday was the anniversary and this morning I’m hastily throwing together this celebration it would seem I’ve rather failed in that!
But here goes anyway:
In the opening “Chinatown” and the lilting “Moon Palace” the album sprawls its soft, sleek self out like a pet waiting to be adored
Whatever the mood, though, “Penthouse” is Dean Wareham’ achieving low-slung, urban cool without having to try too hard, which is the only way it should be done.
It’s a safe bet that Dean Wareham’s record collection is huge,meticulously catalogued and cross referenced to death. His anal fanboyapproach has often stymied previous Luna outings with AOR staidness,but now, perhaps mindful of this, he’s made his most feisty album yet.The Prozac has worn off, his eyelids are propped up, and Luna areready to rock. Sort of.
“Penthouse” is one of those records with its own internal logic, one of those records that, for one delicious moment, shifts your perspective. After playing it, the next dozen records you play, no matter what they are, will all sound strangely WRONG.
Dean was interviewed about Penthouse for the Life of the Record podcast
It was a good time to be in Luna. We were having fun, I think. I mean not that there weren’t some struggles in the making of this record, and was it a little more difficult than we anticipated. But yeah, I guess we took like, I’d say this record took seven weeks to make, which was certainly the longest I had spent making a record. But that’s nothing compared to some other people. When you’re signed to a multi-record deal to a major label, there’s this impetus I suppose to get off the road and you’re like, “Ok we better make a record so we can get paid again” (laughs). There’s good and bad in that. It’s not a terribly good reason to make a record but on the other hand actually it is a good reason to make a record (laughs). It’s pretty understandable. And like I say, it gets you working.
Well Penthouse remains my favorite Luna record. It’s unusual that you hear a record that works from beginning to end and I think this one does that just kind of casts a spell and maintains this mood from track one to track ten. Often times, it’s just like two interesting songs and a bunch of filler. But I think this one, Penthouse, really captured us at our best.
The always fab NYCTaper has a couple of recordings of Luna playing the album in full:
In October 2015 Luna played Penthouse in full for the first time in Atlanta.
In October 2019 Luna played three albums over three nights at The Bowery Ballroom, here’s a full download of the Penthouse show.
The album, famously, turns up in Rolling Stone’s 100 best albums of the 90s
Dean Wareham made his name with the Eighties dream-pop trio Galaxie 500, but he really found his muse in these scandalously beautiful guitar ballads. His foxy voice slinks along the languid guitars as he plumbs his foolish heart in the back of a New York cab, going home alone after another night of fancy drinks and lucky toasts. Wareham purrs some sly one-liners (“It’s no fun reading fortune cookies to yourself”) but the music celebrates the pleasures of being too young, too rich, too pretty and too single, shopping for true love while getting lost in Chinatown.
Back in 2017 a double LP deluxe edition of Penthouse was released for Record Store Day - I think some Spotify regions might have it to listen to - but if not it’s worth hunting down - you can stream/download it from Amazon.
I Hope the band don’t mind me popping this up here but this is an early/rough of Moon Palace from the Penthouse sessions:
Source: Penthouse Rough Mixes and Outtakes
… better late than never - happy birthday you beauty!
In the far distant past, before all of … this, this year’s Record Store Day back in April was to include the first ever vinyl release of Galaxie 500’s live album Copenhagen … and to accompany that release was planned a concert of Galaxie 500 covers at Roght Trade in Brooklyn …
… and then …
… but, the vinyl release of Copenhagen will still be released, that’s happening in the first of the Record Store Day drops on the 28th August - and while the concert can’t happen some of the performers have recorded locked-down home videos which are going to be presented online in the run up to release day.
For the twenty weekdays from today (Monday 3rd August) until release day one video will be released online each day featuring a host of talented artists covering Galaxie 500 songs, some very familiar names will be cropping up featuring members (or former members) of bands such as Beat Happening, Sonic Youth, Mercury Rev, The Feelies and The Pains of Being Young at Heart
The website is here:
… and Rolling Stone has some details and hints at what’s upcoming:
The series, curated by David Newgarden (formerly of WFMU around the time Galaxie 500 were active), opens with Kiwi Jr. covering Tugboat.
In no particular order the following have all been mentioned as contributing to this series - I have
seventeen twenty …
- Kiwi Jr - Tugboat
- Rachel Haden - Hearing Voices
- Deadbeat Beat - Oblivious
- Xiu Xiu - Isn’t It a Pity
- Jeanines - Strange
- Glenn Mercer (The Feelies) - Here She Comes Now
- Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth)
- Mark Lanegan & Dylan Carlson
- Real Estate
- Surfer Blood
- Alan Licht & Rebecca Odes
- Mark Robinson (Unrest) and Evelyn Hurley
- Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening)
- Stephin Merrit (The Magnetic Fields)
- Barbara Manning
- Mercury Rev
- The Natvral (Kip Berman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart)
- Hamilton (British Sea Power)
Last night Dean & Britta played their
third fourth livestreamed concert since lockdown and the first one at a sensible time for European fans. For this one they also roped in Roger Brogan to help with the sound and to play drums.
The duo have decided to used the Veeps platform for the concerts which consensus seems to suggest was a wise decision as the sound quality is pretty good although for the first ten minutes of last night’s performance you wouldn’t have known that as the show started without sound. After a couple of minutes of their opener the message that the only people who could hear the show were the three folk in D&B’s living room the event ground to a halt. With some knob twiddling and a call to tech support things were finally resolved and the concert restarted with My Rifle, My Pony and Me from Dean and Cheval Sombre’s album of cowboy songs from a couple of years back.
Once the sound was restored it became clear that this show was a step-up from previous ones, the addition of drums and Roger’s hand at the engineering wheel was certainly making a difference - next up was Galaxie 500’s Leave The Planet followed by Opal’s Hear The Wind Blow.
The set continued with a run of Galaxie 500 tracks with Dean & Britta’s You Turned My Head Around slotted in the middle (always a joy to hear and see Britta during that one). Dean also gave a couple of poetry readings and threw in some banter and told some stories.
Among the Galaxie 500 tracks was a beautiful rendition of Sorry - written by Damon and a heartbreaking insight into a band crumbling - “Seems it doesn’t make a difference, and were sorry all the time” - it was beautiful to hear and probably hasn’t been performed live by any former Galaxie 500 members since their last tour in 1991 - the late Tom Rapp covered it at a Terrastock show back in 1998.
The show finished with an encore of a cover of Donovan’s Sadness and then a perfect Ceremony.
Definitely the best of the three shows so far - and an absolute joy to see them live. The Veeps platform has a chat that was quite active during the show and was nice to have some level of interaction with other fans … lovely to see so many familiar faces in there.
You can still buy and watch the show on Veeps for a week or so - so head over and check it out.
The one thing that was really missed was band/audience and inter-audience feedback.
- the band tried to keep an eye on the chat but it clearly isn’t possible in any meaningful way - the delays and the silence of it mean that they aren’t really reacting at all - this was most blatantly clear during the silent rendtion of the opening track - the fact that it took two minutes before Dean & Britta realised that nobody could hear was telling.
- audience interaction with each other, while better, was also hard. Chat went past too quickly at times - the Veeps platform didn’t allow @ comments or private comments or for the audience to break into smaller groups (not sure if this would work at all).
- the inability to actually hear an audience made things feel a little off, it’s almost as if you want a second stream so the audience and the band could see and hear each other - again not sure how/if this would work but I missed that probably more than anything else - I’m not a social person but I do miss being among fans!
Dean suggested that they may release audio of the shows at some point … so watch this space. He also mentioned the series of lathe cut singles that would be released soon - not too much additional information, except that their cover of Donovan’s Sadness would be included. Again… watch this space for more details.
Full setlist (posted to Dean’s Instagram):
- My Rifle, My Pony and Me
- Leave The Planet
- Hear The Wind Blow
- When Will You Come Home
- poem: The Canoeing Trip by Russell Eldon
- King of Spain
- Parking Lot
- You Turned My Head Around
- Blue Thunder
- poem: Extract from The Lichtenberg Figures by Ben Lerner
- Victory Garden
- Don’t Let Our Youth Go to Waste
Back in the days before things went all weird Luna were in Seattle to play a Bewitched show and popped into the KEXP studios for a session. It’s been a long time coming but video of the set has just arrived on KEXP’s YouTube!
Dean Wareham gave a 50 second sneak preview of a new Dean & Britta lathe-cut single on his Instagram yesterday. The single will be live versions of The Bee Gees Massachusetts and The Incredbible String Band’s Air, both recorded during one of their live stream concerts.
It’s another clear, square, plastic disc - more details when I get them - watch this space.
Dean & Britta will be playing another live concert from their living room sofa on Saturday 25th July, this time at a more convenient time for their European fans!
Britta and I have scheduled our next live show – Saturday July 25 at noon Pacific, 3pm EDT, that’s 8pm in the UK and 9pm in Europe. This time we will play a set heavier on Galaxie 500 songs. Hope to see you there!
The show will be at 12 noon PDT (3pm EDT, 8pm BST) and will again be streamed using the VEEPS platform and will be continue to be available after the live event until 2nd August.
Tickets are $11.50 you can also buy a “patron” bundle for $23.00.
This is recycled from my Everything’s Swriling last year - but 30 years seems a bit more significant than 29 so I’m reposting here … it’s a bit personal but … this is my blog
So… at, I’d guess about 22:30 on 27th June 1990 this happened (38 minutes and 22 seconds in):
… this pretty much changed the course of my life … as follows:
1990: I was working in the film stores at the BBC - not a great job but the pay wasn’t too bad (with some overtime) and enabled me to get out and see gigs. I’d already been there six years (apart from a 18 months as a film projectionist) so it was looking like I was stuck there.
22:30 1990-06-27 - Galaxie 500 returned to the stage for an encore after a brilliant main set - they were joined by Kramer and played Ceremony, followed by Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste. I was mesmerised.
1994: I’d been messing around with the internet from pretty early on and towards the end of 1994 I acquired some free web space. But what to do? So I taught myself how to code for the web and built a Galaxie 500 web page, because I still remembered that feeling from four years before. I was now a webmaster!
I’d now been working in film stores ten years … it was definitely looking like I was stuck there.
1995: I set up a mailing list for Galaxie 500 (and Luna and Damon & Naomi) fans.
1999: I’d managed to get a job working on a European digitisation project, I shared an office with BBC I&A’s first media managers who were then asked to help work on developing an intranet site for BBC Information & Archives - Research Central - I found myself roped in as the only person who had any experience developing for the web (becuase of Galaxie 500). I ended up doing quite a lot of the work on it. At some point it became my full time job.
Research Central changed over the years, it became research.gateway, and then Research Gateway - the job changed, the site changed - as people learned the web they needed less help and more tools - we gave them that.
200?: Actually I’m not sure exactly when, the powers that be decided that my skills (because of Galaxie 500) would be put to better use not as part of the archives but as part of the wider BBC intranet. Lots of people thought this was a good thing - but … taking me away from archives wasn’t good at all. Unfortunately over the following few years a variety of managers came and went and none of them had a clue what to do with us.
2013: After too many years of doing nothing and not getting anywhere I happened upon an advert for a job as the Webmaster at The National Archives. I applied for, and got, the job because of, you know… Galaxie 500. I was back in an archive. Home.
2020: 30 years on and I still get a buzz thinking about that show, 26 years on… still a webmaster.
Dean Wareham has written a piece for Möistworks blog about the making of Dean & Britta’s beautiful cover of The Seekers’ The Carnival is Over that was released a couple of weeks back both digitally and as a limited one-sided lathe-cut single.
In the article he discusses the original song and how their cover took a while to come together:
In 2008, in Jersey City, Britta and I attempted to record the song. We had gone into the studio to try a few covers, including the Cure’s “It’s Friday, I’m in Love.” We finished the Cure song but gave up on “Carnival”—it was probably in the wrong key for Britta’s voice. But when the pandemic hit and the world ground to a halt, the titled popped back into my head and I urged Britta to try singing it again. We opened the old ProTools files and discovered we had the percussion (by Anthony LaMarca), electric 12-string guitar, and a mellotron by Britta—all ready to go. Still, it took Britta more than a couple of attempts to figure out how to sing it. Sometimes when tackling a cover it takes time to get the original singer out of your head and deliver it in your own voice. Sometimes you have to admit that you and the song are not suited to each other at all. But not this time. Britta hit the loud, high notes and as Kramer pointed out, sang the song like she had lived it.
He also discusses making the video:
The video I made myself in iMovie, which is a first for me, but it seems we are all learning how to do things at home. I had some clips of Britta dancing (which I ran through a particular iPhone app) and another of Anthony LaMarca playing the drums at St Pancras Church, in London. Meanwhile, I had sent the song to a friend and fellow Seekers fan in Australia, who told me the song made him think of the final scene from Paths of Glory where Christiane Kubrick (the director’s wife!) sings to French soldiers who at first jeer and laugh at her, but are soon moved to tears. I tried the song against that clip and it was immediately very affecting.
This Friday (19th June) Bandcamp will be donating 100% of their revenue share to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund so Friday would be a good day to fill some of those gaps in your collection and see some of that money going to a good cause.
The recent killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Sean Reed, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the ongoing state-sanctioned violence against black people in the US and around the world are horrific tragedies. We stand with those rightfully demanding justice, equality, and change, and people of color everywhere who live with racism every single day, including many of our fellow employees and artists and fans in the Bandcamp community.
This Friday, Stand with Bandcamp to Support Racial Justice, Equality, and Change
If you’re wondering what you might like to but here are a few AHFoW related suggestions to add to your wishlist and buy on Friday!
I’ll add to this list if I think of anything else - feel free to contact me with suggestions
The entire Galaxie 500 catalogue is available digitally on Bandcamp
- Today - Galaxie 500
- On Fire - Galaxie 500
- This Is Our Music - Galaxie 500
- Copenhagen - Galaxie 500
- Peel Sessions - Galaxie 500
- Uncollected - Galaxie 500
- you can also buy the whole lot for $42.62 - that’s 20% off!
Not all of Luna’s catalogue but a few gems can be had
Dean & Britta will be playing another live concert from their living room sofa on Saturday 27th June.
This time we are playing Luna songs exclusively. Sean & Lee can’t be there but will share in the proceeds.
The show will be at 6pm PDT (9pm EDT, 2am (Sunday) BST) and will again be streamed using the VEEPS platform and will be continue to be available after the live event until 6th July.
Tickets are $11.50 you can also buy a “patron” bundle for $23.00 or a (US only) concert/T-shirt bundle for $46.00 (all prices I’ve quoted include the 15% handling fee that VEEPS charge).