Here’s a link to our semi-unplugged live session at Philly’s wxpn. We pulled out an unrehearsed countrified version of “Holding Pattern,” as well as “Tiger Lily” and “Heartless People”
Here’s a link to our semi-unplugged live session at Philly’s wxpn. We pulled out an unrehearsed countrified version of “Holding Pattern,” as well as “Tiger Lily” and “Heartless People”
We are back home for a few weeks after an exciting east coast tour with a brand new band. Heading out again on May 4th to play Lisbon, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Brighton, Bristol and more…
Then in June, back to the west coast to play Seattle and San Francisco
See all upcoming tour dates here!
Dean Wareham has always presented himself as a music fan as much as a musician, the sort of artist for whom it’s not uncommon to devote at least 20% of an album to cover songs. But whether he was reinterpreting George Harrison with Galaxie 500 or Guns ‘N Roses with Luna, it never felt like Wareham was just showing off his record collection for the sake of it, or worse, being ironic. Rather, he was asserting his platonic ideal of pop music, separating iconic artists from their historical baggage, and distilling the songs down to the intimate, personal connection and details that made him an enthusiast in the first place. It’s an approach that went into overdrive with Dean & Britta, Wareham’s mid-2000s collaboration with ex-Luna-bassist-turned-wife Britta Phillips; the couple’s covers-stacked releases captured the sound of newlyweds rolling around on the living-room floor amid piles of their favorite 45s during a red wine-fueled all-nighter. But, naturally, every nocturnal reverie must be followed by a moment when you have to face the day again.
It’s tempting to read into the fact that, following that seemingly successful musical and matrimonial partnership, Wareham is now releasing records under his own name for the first time in his nearly three-decade career. While Phillips is still in the picture, she’s reverted from star-player status to a background role amid Wareham’s mise en scene. Her presence as a muse, however, is as powerful as ever: Like last year’s Emancipated Hearts EP, Wareham’s new self-titled full-length is less Dean & Britta than Dean to Britta. It’s an album that humorously but honestly explores the tensions that arise in any long-term relationship, however in this case, the pressures—financial, political, or otherwise—seem to be coming more from without than within. “I’m living in a holding pattern,” Wareham confesses on the album’s deceptively sprightly centerpiece “Holding Pattern”, but it’s not the proverbial seven-year itch that’s nagging at him so much as the humdrum, 9-to-5 uniformity of modern American life, where even in an era of “drop-down menus,” it can be hard to distinguish sports-ticker reports from the 1970s arena-rock dinosaurs still clogging up the FM airwaves (“Kansas, Boston, Toto, Journey, Foreigner, and Styx/ San Diego over Denver 17 to 6”).
In the face of such demoralizing conditions, it can be hard to keep one’s spirits up even in a happy coupling, but the standout tracks here suggest that, while it may be unsentimental to think of relationship as work, it’s the sort of labor that yields rewards: “We’ll love you in the lean times,” Wareham assures on “My Eyes Are Blue”, a song whose title evokes a classic track by his beloved Velvet Underground, but whose winsome jangle sounds more like the sort of early-60s pop confections Lou Reed would’ve cranked out in his pre-VU song-factory stint. And as Wareham observes, in a world dominated by “Heartless People”, romanticism becomes akin to radicalism—when he sings, “You and I/ Hate to see a flower die,” it’s less an expression of twee-as-fuck sensitivity than a defiant assertion of one’s humanity even as the bastards try to get you down.
Once again, Wareham’s turned to his record collection for emotional guidance, though instead of simply covering some of his favorite artists, he’s taken to enlisting younger contemporaries as collaborators. On Emancipated Hearts, he ceded the console to Jason Quever, aka Sub Pop indie-pop savant Papercuts, and for this more sonically elaborate recording, he’s given himself over to My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, a relationship that dates back to Wareham’s obsession with MMJ’s 1999 debut, The Tennessee Fire. Though James’ aesthetic has obviously evolved greatly from the rustic simplicity of that album, his name is still synonymous with a certain strain of cosmic Americana, and the sparkling, synth-washed productions of “Beat the Devil” and “Love Is Not a Roof Against the Rain” balance the retro and futurist in a fashion reminiscent of post-Deserter’s Songs Mercury Rev, providing Wareham with the cocoon-like insulation from the outside world he seeks.
But, perhaps owing to Wareham’s recent acts of self-reflection—penning an autobiography, dusting off Galaxie 500 standards in concert—this album functions firmly within the various comfort zones he’s inhabited over the years, spanning the dreamy drone of his first band (see: “Babes in the Woods”, featuring a rare showing of Wareham’s long-dormant falsetto) to the sort of electronic-inflected pop he toyed with in Dean & Britta. Given the dichotomy between Wareham’s dry, plainspoken demeanor and James’ shoot-for-the-stratosphere tendencies, this album is an epic of modest proportions, a Pocketbook Dean Wareham to go with yourPortable Galaxie 500. In more calculated hands, the pulsating groove of the closing “Happy & Free” could be elevated into a “With Or Without You”-sized anthem, but Wareham is content to just calmly ride it out at his patient pace, and enjoy the moment of peace—because he knows it won’t last. He may claim he’s “happy and free,” but he adds, with typically understated sardonicism, “for a while.” And, as ever, the least his songs can do is make those short whiles feel like they could last forever.
Album is out today in the United States: Amazon has a $9.99 deal on the compact disc. . .
Amoeba is a little more but shipping is free.
Or order from www.deanwareham.com and receive four bonus live tracks
Greeting from rainy Los Angeles
My new album was recorded at Jim James’ house in Louisville, Kentucky on a vintage Trident Series 80B console that once belonged to Dan Fogelberg, which may seem unremarkable.
When it came time to put together a band for the upcoming tour, I turned to drummer Roger Brogan, a good friend whose drumming we have admired as he sat behind the traps for Sonic Boom’s Spectrum. Roger, who is based here in Los Angeles, suggested a former bandmate of his to play guitar and keyboards – one Raymond Richards. “That name rings a bell,” I told Roger. In fact I had met him about ten years ago, outside the Bowery Ballroom in New York City. Raymond, who was playing pedal steel in the Hope Sandoval band, had helped me get into the show that night. Raymond, it turns out, has a cool studio here in Los Angeles called Red Rockets Glare, and last year he purchased the above-mentioned Trident console from Jim James — the very same board that we had used to track the new album. I met with Raymond at his studio, took a photo of the desk, and sent it to Jim via text message. “Is that my desk, my actual desk?” asked Jim. “Yes,” said I, “the very same one.” So Raymond’s new desk had found its way across the country and back into my life. Raymond told me that as a teenager he had seen Luna open for the Sundays, and it had changed his life. So there you have it; by force of coincidence he had to join the band. We have been rehearsing in a basement studio in Glassell Park, learning the new songs as well as older ones by Luna and Galaxie 500.
The album releases March 11 on vinyl and compact disc, on Double Feature (USA) and Sonic Cathedral (Europe). Except that unfortunately there have been issues with the American LP test pressing, so the U.S. vinyl will be a couple of weeks late; it will be mailed out at the end of March. I apologize to those who have pre-ordered the vinyl, but rest assured that if you have done so, you will receive your free download code by email on March 11. The CD will ship right on time.
Also if you order from deanwareham.com you will receive (via email) a code to download a free 4-song EP, Live at St. Pancras Old Church. Songs are 1. Emancipated Hearts 2. Tugboat 3. Lost In Space 4. Love Is Colder Than Death. The band that night was myself, Britta Phillips, Jason Quever and Anthony LaMarca.
And while you are there take a look at the new video for the single “The Dancer Disappears” created by Canadian artist Meesoo Lee.
Still writing my weekly blog — Song of the Week – wherein I post a song that I love and explain why. This week’s entry is “Memphis, Tennessee,” performed by Sandy Bull, master of guitar and electric oud. The song was written by Chuck Berry, a most under-rated songwriter who turned out gems like “The Promised Land” and “School Days.”
ITUNES PRE-ORDER gives you two instant tracks (“Holding Pattern” and “The Dancer Disappears”) and the album comes with an iTunes exclusive track: “Happy & Free (Jim James Remix)” which features Jim on banjo and is perhaps my favorite track on the whole album.
Or order from Amazon
Or if you live in England or Europe you might rather save shipping costs and order from Sonic Cathedral.
all the best,
p.s. here are confirmed shows at the moment:
Today my new album (my first-ever full-length solo album) is available for pre-order. Release date is March 11 on Double Feature Records here in the USA and Sonic Cathedral in England and Europe. The album is produced by Jim James (of My Morning Jacket) and features Britta Phillps on bass, Anthony LaMarca on drums (and many other instruments) and Jim James himself on keys, guitars and vocals.
If you pre-order HERE you will get the album on the release date, and you will also instantly receive a free 4-song live EP, recorded to multi-tracks last year at St Pancras Old Church in London and mixed by Britta here in our Hollywood studio. The band was myself, Britta, Anthony and Jason Quever (Papercuts) and these are really nice versions of 1. Emancipated Hearts 2. Tugboat 3. Lost In Space 4. Love is Colder Than Death.
How did this album come about? Back in 1999 I had bought My Morning Jacket’s first album, The Tennessee Fire, and loved it. I mentioned it in some interview or top ten list and remember getting an email from Jim James a few months later, just saying hi and thanks. Years later (2012) I had dinner with Jim’s manager (and a longtime friend) Mike Martinovich; we wound up having drinks back at his Flatiron office late that night, where Mike played me some tracks from Jim’s freshly-recorded solo album. I loved this one too, commenting on who great the production was. “Why don’t you two collaborate on something?” said Mike.
That summer My Morning Jacket curated a rock festival in Louisville. Jim invited me to play a set of Galaxie 500 songs, and after the festival was over to come stay at his house to record a few things. Jim’s engineer Kevin Ratterman brought in some nice equipment with tubes and shiny little lights and all that. We set up drums in the living room, guitar amps in the garage, and the vocal microphones in Jim’s den. We tracked four songs that weekend and decided right away to come back in a few months and finish a whole album. Late December found us back at work at Jim’s house, before moving to the state-of-the-art, amaze-balls LaLaLand Studios for mixing sessions.
Album art is by Sharon Lock and is quite beautiful. The first pressing of the LP will be on translucent yellow vinyl; the compact disc has different artwork altogether (it’s purple with a shiny black jewel case).
If you didn’t pick up last year’s 6-song EP Emancipated Hearts you also have the option of buying LP and EP together at a discounted price.
In other news I am now writing a weekly blog entry — “song of the week.” This is where I talk about songs that have changed my life or made me dance or cry.
In April we are getting in a van and going on tour with the band (yes, that includes Britta), playing some of these new songs as well as others from my Galaxie 500 and Luna catalog. We have announced some of the dates (see below) and there will be more to come — Europe in May, West Coast in late June.
Hope to see you somewhere along the way,
PRE-ORDER new album
iTUNES PRE-ORDER and iTunes has a bonus track
Or order from Amazon but please note the vinyl they have listed right now is the expensive import so you don’t want to order that. I am sure they will fix this soon.
And if you live in England or Europe you might rather save shipping costs and order from Sonic Cathedral.
March 28 Big Ears Festival, Knoxville, TN (13 Most Beautiful: songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests)
March 30 Big Ears Festival, Knoxville, TN (Dean Wareham solo show)
April 1 Atlanta the Earl
April 3 Carrboro NC Cat’s Cradle
April 4 Washington DC U Street Music Hall
April 5 New York City Bowery Ballroom
April 6 Philadelphia Boot & Saddle
April 9 Toronto Horseshoe Tavern
April 10 Ferndale, MI Magic Bag
April 11 Chicago Old Town School of Music
April 12 St Paul Turf Club
Posted on December 14, 2013 by Cath Aubergine
Former Galaxie 500 and Luna singer Dean Wareham recently released his first ever solo mini-album, but there’sstill space for some old favourites in this friendly, intimate Manchester set.
It’s the day of The Big Storm, and we’ve been sitting on a packed train in Piccadilly Station for two hours: there’s a gazebo on the line near Nuneaton and a tree on fire just outside Macclesfield. We are annoyed, to say the least, but two trains ahead of ours, somewhere in North Cheshire, is what could be one heck of a problem for Sonic Cathedral: specifically the train carrying Dean Wareham and his band (which also includes support act Jason Quever) to their sold out gig in London. Tweets are exchanged; a lift is on standby, then word that the motorways are no better, then finally they’re on their way. News comes later that they made it, but you can’t help but think that the singer of one of the most revered alternative bands of that unbelievably fertile era at the tail end of the eighties should not be at the mercy of the British weather, public transport infrastructure and ridiculous freak incidents.
As legends go, he seems pretty down to earth – which is good news for Paul Baird, singer with I See Angels, the local band afforded the prestige of opening for the Wareham touring party in Manchester. “I’ve been a fan of Dean Wareham for years” he muses, on stage and between songs – “just met him for the first time …. and had to borrow money off him!” Listening to his vocals it would be fair to say that’s not all he’s borrowed, though we’re talking influence here as opposed to anything more. You maybe don’t even realise at first, through the kind of low key, lo-fi stylings of the trio, but it hits on maybe the second or third track: strong, passionate, laced with reverb and Americana, and not afraid to take off on some euphoric flight. They’ve got cracking tunes, as well – the sort of rousing rallying calls Arcade Fire used to do before they mutated into a concept band – and a guitar sound somewhere between early Interpol and full on shoegaze; they’re dreamy but they can rock out too. Been keeping an eye on these since they supported Air Cav back in 2012, it was fairly early days then but you could just tell they were onto something. You can help yourself to a couple of albums on Bandcamp, too, or bung them something, they do deserve it.
Papercuts on the other hand I remember seeing for some reason around the same time, probably went for the support or just wanted to go out, they didn’t leave much of a mark. This isn’t the band, anyway, it’s singer Jason Quever and an acoustic 12 string. And yeah, he’s also more than a little Wareham influenced – though the respect is clearly mutual, with Papercuts’ support sets on the “… Plays Galaxie 500″ tour a couple of years back leading to Quever producing his new mini-album. Maybe I should have paid more attention. This time he just does a handful of solo tunes, a nice little interlude, before he’s joined by Britta Phillips and the drummer from the Wareham’s band. In this context he’s reminiscent of Jonathan Richman – or is that just a subliminal message courtesy of Britta’s Modern Lovers T-shirt? We half expect the whole thing to just segue gradually into the headline set, but there’s a few minutes’ break.
We’re desperately hoping they’re not dispirited by a venue that’s at best half full (both London dates sold out well in advance). Where is everyone? Yeah, OK, so it’s Wednesday. And December. Not like it’s pissing it down, though – at this point all that weather and railway/gazebo chaos is still a day away. Sure, United are at home tonight, and City also playing, but there are plenty of music fans who have no interest in football. Maybe it’s just a tight time of year for the bulk of Wareham’s loyal fanbase, many of whom are of an age where pennies are being stretched towards their families’ Christmas lists. I guess Wareham’s face isn’t as all over the music press as it was last time he toured, with his (excellent) autobiography then just released. And sure, this isn’t the nostalgia trip any more: been there, done that. Tonight there will be new songs.
And what songs they are. It’s incredible how, after quarter of a century and an album count now well into double figures, Dean Wareham still keeps coming up with brilliant, simple, perfect melodies. Recent single Love Is Colder Than Death opens the set, all dreamy Americana, his voice deeper now to match his greying if still impressively voluminous hair. The Deadliest Day meanwhile has hints of a more English folkiness about it; Emancipated Hearts meanwhile channels Lou Reed far better than most who try. Yet when he does dip into the Galaxie 500 catalogue it’s almost like turning the clock back – the beautifully fragile voice of his younger self exactly as it was. Yes, he can still hit the high notes. When Will You Come Home, Strange, Tell Me – songs which now seem to have been around forever – sparkle as ever they did. I love the fact that he hasn’t been tempted to mess with them, to fill those spaces with over-instrumentation. Singers doing their old band’s stuff with other people can be something of a minefield, but you never once feel like you’re watching some self-tribute: close your eyes and you could be back in 1989. How about Decomposing Trees? The request from someone in the crowd is not on the set list, but “we can try it… and they do, a little scruffy at first but how many bands would even do that, at this level anyway, go off-list to make someone’s night? And before long it’s kicked in.
Those timeless memories are interspersed with new songs and the odd cover – a take on The Incredible String Band’s Air, also on the new mini-album, prompts a discussion with a fan (possibly the same one) regarding it’s melodic similarity to Rivers Of Babylon – though towards the end the classics flow thick and fast. Blue Thunder is stunning, while Listen, The Snow Is Falling (Yoko Ono‘s song, originally) is surely the greatest Christmas single that never was; there’s a direct tribute to Lou Reed in the encore (Ride Into The Sun) and then to Manchester itself, with the Galaxie 500 take on Joy Division/New Order’s Ceremony. There are New Order fans who consider this an equal to the original, and it’s very rare any cover has that accolade – they’re right, of course; it’s beautiful, the way he takes the vocal line at the end to places dear old Barney could never have managed.
Those who have come for nostalgia won’t have been disappointed, those who prefer to see their old heroes still creating will have been equally satisfied. You couldn’t really ask for more from a singer now in his fiftieth year of life and twenty fifth as a recording artist. He even hangs around to chat to fans – well, as he mentioned earlier, his hotel room doesn’t actually have a window, so I guess he’s in no hurry to get back, although by Thursday afternoon he might well be wishing they’d left for London straight after the show. I’m glad they made it. It would have been a travesty of unimaginable proportion for the capital’s music fans to have been denied this wonderful experience by a stray piece of garden furniture.
Dean Wareham’s mini-album, Emancipated Hearts, is out now on Sonic Cathedral, with his self-titled solo album due in March on the same label – pre-orders will open in the new year.
- See more at: http://louderthanwar.com/dean-wareham-manchester-live-review/#sthash.jVPnfyhL.dpuf