Friday, November 11, 2005

L'Avventura



Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips, L'Avventura:

I Deserve It

Moonshot

I miss Luna. I discovered them on their debut record, then spent a decade following them faithfully, buying every album, involuntarily memorizing arrangements and lyrics, and happily spending money at the merch table each time they appeared in town.

Formed by New Zealand-born guitarist/songwriter Dean Wareham after he disbanded Galaxie 500 in the early nineties, Luna played a stately, deadpan guitar-pop with slight traces of its forebears, the Velvet Underground and Television, though sleeker and droller than either. A full-fledged elegy is in the works here in the newly-minted mp3 department of the blog, but as a warm-up opening act, let’s hear a two-shot from a Luna side project: Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips’ album L’Avventura. Both selections are covers of songs originally written and performed by women.

Madonna’s “I Deserve It” is a song I would not have appreciated when I was twenty. It feels calm, mature, racked up with life-mileage, and its imagery is spare and elemental: “Many miles, many roads I have traveled/Falling down on the way/Many hearts, many years, have unravelled/Leading up to today.” (That last line gives me a little chill.) Wareham covers it faithfully, as close to the tenor of Madonna’s original as he can remain while still personalizing it as he expertly gender-flips both text and subtext.

“Moonshot” by Canadian First Nations songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie is the only song I know that belongs to the “moon landing protest song” genre. It’s nicely unpredictable, and a bit spooky: “An anthropologist, he wrote a book/He called it “Myths Of Heaven”/He’s disappeared/His wife is all distraught/An angel came and got him…”.

Tony Visconti, who worked with Bowie and T-Rex, produced the record. He made some unusual choices, like applying a wash of strings here or triggering a 1970's beat box there. But overall, the mood is mellower, airier, than a Luna album.

More: Dean & Britta's site, and a good interview with Dean.

20 Comments:

Blogger girish said...

Michael looks at Shopgirl through the magnifying glass of Los Angeles. [also see his comments.]

November 11, 2005 6:54 AM  
Blogger girish said...

I bet all of Jeannette's kids' friends want to move into her house.

November 11, 2005 6:59 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Have always been fascinated by Dada--here's a quick intro in the Guardian.

November 11, 2005 7:03 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Yay. Darren's fired up a new feature on his blog. And it's a list--which is, like, catnip.

November 11, 2005 9:07 AM  
Anonymous Darren said...

A couple months ago I found a great song by Luna on another mp3, got all excited about my new discovery, then learned they'd broken up -- all in the span of about ten minutes. Which album would you recommend as a starting point?

November 11, 2005 9:24 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Hmm. I'd say either (1) Penthouse, from '95, which is probably my favorite of their albums, or (2) Pup Tent, from '97, which is excellent too and even has a Lynch-homage tune called "Bobby Peru". But there's not a bad album in the bunch.

Darren, thought you'd appreciate this: one of the songs on Penthouse has this inspired verse, sung in Wareham's usual deadpan drawl:
"Heading for Tacoma
Driving too fast
Nixon's in a coma
Hope it's gonna last."

Okay. Sounds funnier when sung--like all songs do, I guess.

November 11, 2005 9:34 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Okay, so Ben's got a little blog-let that tracks his movies seen, and his best and worst of the year.

November 11, 2005 11:49 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Peoples--If you're curious, here's the Madonna original; it's off the electronica record she made with Mirwais and William Orbit, Music.

Madonna -- I Deserve It.

I was listening to it again, driving into work today, and realized how faithful the cover is. Right down to the steady, unsyncopated eighth-note acoustic rhythm guitar playing. All except Mirwais' electronic whooshes and whines.

November 11, 2005 12:03 PM  
Blogger LondonLee said...

If you miss Luna and want more of those airy atmospherics you might like The Clientele.

November 11, 2005 3:00 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, Londonlee. I don't know of them. I'll be sure to check 'em out.
Like your blog, by the way.

November 11, 2005 3:12 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Beautiful tracks, really. Been listening to them on repeat.

November 11, 2005 6:18 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

eh? I thought I left a comment here.

These are great, thanks. Beautiful work.

November 11, 2005 8:27 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Well that's odd. It wasn't there even on refresh.

November 11, 2005 8:51 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey thanks, Tuwa. So glad you enjoyed them.
Once in a rare while, a comment will stay on the Blogger comments page but won't actually appear on my webpage for a while. The comment's not lost but appears a bit later. Not sure why. A bit strange. But thankfully rare.

November 12, 2005 7:55 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Surfing yesterday, discovered Brenda Coulter's blog through Terry Teachout's. Don't hastily click away when you see: "I write "inspirational" romance novels, which are love stories celebrating traditional Christian values." :-)
It's an enjoyable blog, and here's a post about underwear.

November 12, 2005 8:11 AM  
Blogger girish said...

The Chicago-based opera singer Erin Wall just returned from a few months performing in Paris. Check out her latest post.

November 12, 2005 8:15 AM  
Blogger girish said...

TMFTML on Maureen Dowd.

November 12, 2005 8:25 AM  
Blogger girish said...

What a miserable bummer!
Arrested Development expires.

November 12, 2005 9:25 AM  
Blogger cjones said...

I like that it gave you a chill.

November 12, 2005 12:21 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey you.

November 12, 2005 12:46 PM  

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