Penthouse (CD)


Luna

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Amoeba Review

John Schacht 05/15/2010

The third album from former Galaxie 500 leader Dean Wareham and friends is, if not their best outing, then the epitome of the laid-back Luna sound and aesthetic. Recorded in New York City’s Sorcerer Sound with producer Pat McCarthy, the record received nearly unanimous critical acclaim on its 1995 release, and deservedly so. Just as their previous disc, 1994’s Bewitched, had included contributions from one of the band’s seminal influences – the Velvet Underground’s Sterling Morrison – Penthouse finds Television guitarist Tom Verlaine adding his considerable skills to “Moon Palace” and the extendo-jam “23 Minutes in Brussels.” (The band’s other key inspiration, the Feelies, had already given the band drummer Stanley Demeski.) Luna’s formula here is writ large: layers of guitar riffs both fuzzy and chiming; relaxed tempos that generate subtle but surprising heat; melodies that rely more on drone and repetition than catchy hooks; extended, jammy bridges; tales of late-night dissolution and the mood swings of carefree freedom and regret that attend it; and Wareham’s flat, cracked vocals trailing just behind the thick bass lines and insistent, tom-centric drums. While you’d never confuse him with Bob Dylan or even his progenitor Lou Reed, Wareham’s simple narratives capture the allure of big city fun and the hangover of urban alienation, introducing us to both sides of the equation in the choogling opener “Chinatown”: “In the tiny, tiny hours/’tween the evening and the day/we have placed our final bets/we have come out to play/fancy drinks and lucky toasts/I like this time the most… looking lost in Chinatown/is it time to make amends/you'll get yours and I'll get mine/you can't be lucky all the time.” What appeals most about Luna is probably also what repels those who don’t get it: Sonic consistency. Whether they’re hypnotizing you in double-time via “Rhythm King” or stretching out into “Marquee Moon”-slash-“Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’” territory on “Freakin’ and Peakin’” (and Penthouse features the band’s longest songs, with three topping six minutes), the sound remains resolutely theirs. That’s even true of the hidden track cover of Serge Gainsbourg's “Bonnie and Clyde,” which featured Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab duetting with Wareham in French, and pointed toward Wareham’s less-compelling future with Britta Phillips in Dean & Britta.



Track Listing



Disc 1 Titles
Artist
Length
1.
Chinatown
Luna 04:39
2.
Sideshow by the Seashore
Luna 03:12
3.
Moon Palace
Luna 03:46
4.
Double Feature
Luna 04:27
5.
23 Minutes in Brussels
Luna 06:40
6.
Lost in Space
Luna 03:44
7.
Rhythm King
Luna 03:16
8.
Kalamazoo
Luna 06:26
9.
Hedgehog
Luna 03:05
10.
Freakin' and Peakin'
Luna 06:20
11.
Bonnie and Clyde [Bonus Track]
Luna , Laetitia Sadier 05:27

Currently Unavailable
$10.98
SHIPS FREE in U.S.
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