April 2002 • Rockbites Alternative Daily

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Luna’s Romantica raises the bar for masterful pop
12 April 2002
Magic: when simple elements combine in unforseen ways to manifest something timeless and beautiful.
    Wellington, New Zealand native/NYC transplant Dean Wareham founded Luna (briefly called Luna²) ten years ago after abandoning seminal lo-fi wonder Galaxie 500. (His cohorts continue on as Damon & Naomi.) In between, Wareham worked with members of Mercury Rev, playing on & producing their Carwash Hair EP and tracking the demo songs that landed him a contract with Elektra Records.
    Luna began as an indie super-trio comprising Wareham along with Justin Harwood of the Chills and Stanley Demeski of The Feelies. The band has evolved continuously, gaining and losing members, label affiliations, and contracts. When they recorded their sixth album, Romantica, a year ago, they had no record deal and none in sight.
    But in January 2002 they revealed they’d hooked up with the extraordinariily tasteful Jetset label in New York city. And at long last, on 23 April the new LP hits stores in North America. Europe and the UK will get a domestic release this spring as well, on a to-be-announced label.
    For the songs on Romantica, Luna—Wareham plus longtime member Sean Eden (Kramer, Muttongun, Dogbowl, The Weeds of Eden) along with Lee Wall (The Weeds of Eden) and Britta Phillips (ex Belltower, Ultrababyfat)—worked with producer/engineer Gene Holder, of ’70s into ’80s North Carolina pop geniuses The DBs, at Hoboken, New Jersey’s Jolly Roger studios.
    Wareham then ran the tapes up to Fredonia, New York, where producer and former Mercury Rev bassist Dave Fridmann “...added a string arrangement here, some weird noises there....” according to Wareham. “Sometimes I would walk in to the control room and think 'You’ve destroyed the song!' But after a couple of listens I would calm down, and realize that he knew what he was doing.”
    Wareham’s songcraft, Luna’s performance, Holder’s guidance, and Fridmann’s presentation & polish are, together on Romantica, well, just magic. Every one of the twelve country-tinged, druggy, romantic songs is a pop masterpiece: elegant melodies and clever but unaffected lyrics pull you in, while, as you learn this deceptively simple album, the painfully beautiful and astonishingly sublime arrangements start to take your breath away.
    As for anything beautiful, descriptive words obscure much more than they can ever reveal. So I’ll stop now. Just get the damn album. Five bites out of five.

Rockbites ratings  5: life changing, 4: stunning, 3: captivating, 2: amusing, 1: annoying.

Luna embark on a major US tour on 9 May at the Paradise in Boston, continuing through late June with two days at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. And they’re working on an EP for release later this year on Jetset, which will likely include three cover songs: Waiting on A Friend (The Rolling Stones), Only Women Bleed (Alice Cooper), and Dancing Days (Led Zeppelin).

The forthcoming Luna US dates are

22 - New York city, NY (Tower Records, 11 pm, free)

09 - Boston, MA (The Paradise)
10 - Providence, RI (Lupo’s)
11 - Philadelphia, PA (Trocadero)
17 - Washington, DC (9:30 Club)
18 - Baltimore, MD (Fletchers)
25 - Toronto, ONT (Lee’s Palace)
26 - Cleveland, OH (Beachland Ballroom)
28 - Champaign, IL (High Dive)
29 - Cincinnati, OH (Southgate House)
30 - Detroit, MI (Majestic Theatre)
31 - Chicago, IL (Metro)

01 - Minnesota, MN (1st Avenue)
04 - Seattle, WA (Showbox)
05 - Portland, OR (Alladin Theatre)
07 - San Francisco, CA (Bimbo’s)
08 - San Francisco, CA (Bimbo’s)
10 - Los Angeles, CA (El Rey Theatre)
13 - Dallas, TX (Gypsy Ballroom)
14 - Austin, TX (La Zona Rosa)
15 - Houston, TX (Engine Room)
16 - New Orleans, LA (Howlin’ Wolf)
18 - Nashville, TN (TBA)
19 - Athens, GA (40 Watt)
20 - Atlanta, GA (Variety Playhouse)
21 - Chattanooga, TN (Miller Plaza)
22 - Carrboro, NC (Cat’s Cradle)
28 - New York, NY (Bowery Ballroom)
29 - New York, NY (Bowery Ballroom)

| Luna | | Luna on Britta Phillips site | | fan site | | CD from Amazon US | | discography | | top of page |


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