Bands From The Dead: Luna

By Kurt Grunsky

We asked our writers what now-defunct bands still tug at their heartstrings and buzz through their headphones. They responded with the best aspects of their favourite dead bands, and what they are doing now. 

Dean Wareham has been going for quite some time now without getting the musical recognition he deserves. With Galaxie 500 in the 80s, he set out to make dreamy Velvets-inspired indie rock and succeeded artistically, albeit not commercially. As a result, he ditched his bandmates and formed Luna, the guitar-pop vehicle meant to carry him to slacker stardom – only it did not, and despite being slightly more popular than Galaxie 500, the band split up in 2005. They made such a relatively small impact during their existence that much of their stuff seems to be reaching a peak popularity in more recent years as music critics who paid attention to them at the time dig out their old CDs to prove that Luna was, in fact, a real band, and a great one at that – Rolling Stone even dubbed them “The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of.” And what a shame it would be if we forgot about them now!

Penthouse by Luna

Penthouse by Luna

The band’s first four albums are essential 90s indie rock, if a little more clean-cut-sounding than their contemporaries. The secret ingredients that make the band stand out are Wareham’s clever lyrics that paint a picture of a world populated by spiteful slackers looking to find a good time in downtown New York, as well as the wonderful Lou Reed and Television-inspired guitar playing. Luna’s first album is good, if a bit lightweight. Pleasant guitar textures and Dean’s humorously mean-spirited lyrical style give you a good idea of what to expect from the band. Bewitched, the band’s second studio album, the most spacey of the four, has its typical pretty dream-pop guitar sound, but the crown jewel of their collection is their 1995 album Penthouse, which has the band’s most memorable songs and best guitar jams (check out the rave-ups on “23 Minutes In Brussels” and “Freakin’ & Peakin’”).  Pup Tent, the band’s fourth album, is where they started to experiment a little, with stranger guitar jams, a few grunge-like riffs, and Dean’s vocals filtered through effects on some of the songs, suggesting that the band was perhaps trying to ditch their mellow image in favour of a darker sound.

After their split, Dean married Britta Phillips and began a new musical duo with her called – what else? – Dean & Britta, which tended towards a more indie pop sound. Luna reformed briefly in 2012, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the band has much of a future in recording anything new or even touring again. For now, all we can do is admire the beauty of this unappreciated band.

One Response to “Bands From The Dead: Luna”
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  1. […] Luna (wiki) was a dream pop indie band that split up in 2005, and reunited this year. They always coasted just below making it big, despite wry, clever lyrics and really interesting music. And Rolling Stone called them “the best band you’ve never heard of“. […]

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