Tag Archives: Galaxie 500

Live: Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500 + Crystal Stilts

21 Aug

Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500 songs (backed by the Dean & Britta band)

At the 140-year-old Trocadero Theatre in Phila., PA, where minstrel, vaudeville and burlesque shows once did the trick, Dean Wareham played Galaxie 500 songs. Just after 10 p.m., Wareham, the 47-year-old dreampop hero, walked on stage with his beer, his bass-playing wife Britta and the rest of the band. With no preamble, Wareham and co. rode right on in to “Flowers,” the first track off of their 1988 debut Today.

Wareham’s voice is as haunting and inviting as it was over 20 years ago, and his guitar work alone is worth the price of admission. One of the benefits of seeing Wareham up close is getting a look at his expressive non-expression, where the muscles in his face are relieved of duty, eyelids refusing to come down, as he loses himself in each song. All the while cranking out gorgeous solos.

Wareham told a story about dropping acid a while back with friends, taking their socks and shoes off to dip their feet in the water. “I thought my toes were talking to me,” Wareham said in deadpan. And Wareham begat “Decomposing Trees.”

“Blue Thunder” is the classic car song. Wareham explained that he named his old blue ride after the feature film of the same name, starring Malcolm McDowell and Roy Scheider. Britta chimed in saying she had a green one, to which Wareham replied, “Green Thunder doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it?”

If you are a fan of Galaxie 500, Luna or Dean & Britta, this is a must-see show.

Setlist from 8/20/10 @ The Trocadero

Crystal Stilts

Crystal Stilts opened for Dean Wareham with a perfect 30-minute set of their layered pop sound. Crystal Stilts get misbranded often as a lo-fi outfit because of their jangle. Seeing Wavves and Beach Fossils, despite some similar influences, is a completely different experience than seeing Crystal Stilts. Frontman Brad Hargett sounds exactly like Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. The critics who note their New Zealand (The Clean, The Saints, Wareham, The Bats and especially The Chills) influence got it right. The funny think about the NZ influence, known as the Dunedin Sound, is its roots in early garage and punk pioneers Velvet Underground and The Stooges while incorporating the perfect pop craft of The Beatles. Like those bands before them, The Stilts have no tricks. They just have the equation down pat: write great pop songs and know how to make it dirty.

May releases: Harvey Milk, Andy Bell (Erasure), Beach Fossils

14 May

The month of May is living up to its fertile standards, giving way to tons of new releases. The month has already delivered:

Forgiveness Rock Record from Broken Social Scene, Your Future Out Clutter from the Fall, Together from the New Pornographers, Heaven is Whenever from the Hold Steady, Love is Strange from Jackson Browne & David Lindley, The Latin from Holy Fuck, High Violet from the National, Treats from Sleigh Bells, At Echo Lake from Woods and One Word, One Love from Michael Bolton (still reading?).

Almost as exciting as LCD Soundsystem’s This is Happening (due out May 18), is the return of Harvey Milk to the studio. Reuniting in 2006 after an eight-year hiatus, A Small Turn of Human Kindness (also due out May 18) is their second full-length since and sixth overall.

Harvey Milk gets its dirge on

Human Kindness is sure to excite the critical mass once again with this output, channeling their natural inner Chrome. Harvey Milk sets the spacious, metallic tone immediately, building walls of guitar so Creston Spiers can scale them. It’s definitely meant to be listened to straight through as one piece of music, one very ominous play. If you’re patient enough, you’ll be rewarded with a metal lullaby. Click here for the free stream at NPR’s First Listen:

Harvey Milk’s A Small Turn of Human Kindness

LCD Soundsystem’s release will be covered by the internet’s internet so we’ll skip our thoughts. Here is the limited-time free stream:

LCD Soundsystem’s This Is Happening

It’s worth noting that Andy Bell (of Erasure fame) will be releasing a solo album. The album was due out May 18, but has been pushed to June 7. From the small samples that have been released it’s more of the same synthpop with harder techno beats. Erasure has a massive gay demographic that will soak up anything Clarke and Bell release. If it isn’t evident by the sound, then it is by Bell’s headlining European Gay Ski Week 2010. Nothing, however, will replace Erasure as being the best online game theme song:

Erasure's "Always" makes you feel like a unicorn

Out May 25th is Beach Fossils’ eponymous LP. Anytime a new lo-fi act gains some notoriety, the “has it been beaten to death” debate begins, and that’s exactly what happened with The Beach Fossils. Despite already being compared to No Age, Wavves, Vivian Girls and (somehow) Mika Miko, Beach Fossils’ guitar chops are clearly on another level. The lo-fi sound is obvious, but it isn’t grating or contrived. There is even a twee-pop sweetness reminiscent of Galaxie 500 and Beat Happening. The sweet melodies are buried, but not No Age-buried. There is a clear distinction between No Age’s art-noise/no wave philosophies and Beach Fossils’ crafted fuzz (Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros meets Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet). These guys found a way not to be pigeonholed by their methods.

Beach Fossils self-titled LP out May 25th

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