The Best Band You've Never Heard Of
May 28, 2015 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Tell Me Do You Miss Me - A Film About Luna is a strangely fascinating 2006 documentary about the indie band's 2005 farewell tour. It often seems more like a vacation souvenir home video than a documentary, surprisingly intimate and personal, with obvious affection, tension and rehashing of old arguments between band founder Dean Wareham and guitar player Sean Eden. Surprisingly open and honest, it's a slice of life we rarely get to see, we're so used to tour films being about really famous bands, not smaller bands who may be able to make a living from their music, but who are only going to make money on tour if they sell enough merchandise (that gets lost by the airline). Really worth a watch, and available in its entirety on YouTube.

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".

A few suggested tracks:
Pup Tent
Fuzzy Wuzzy
23 Minutes In Brussels
Friendly Advice
posted by biscotti (31 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I was gonna say it makes me feel old that music fans think of Luna as "a band we've never heard of" but then I realized that phrase came from Rolling Stone, whose readers are even older than me, and now I'm totally confused. But Luna is unstoppably great.
posted by escabeche at 6:16 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

you're late to work
and ya go home earlies
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:21 PM on May 28, 2015 [6 favorites]

Luna was awesome. I used to love Galaxie 500 back in the day, but Luna was even better. I had a terrible, terrible part-time job as a short-order cook and the only thing that kept me sane was Bewitched, which I played over and over and over again, never getting bored. It was so sublimely good. Tiger Lily was my fave track from that album. It's like they're channeling Lou Reed or something.
posted by Nevin at 6:40 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Cool, thanks for this. I only knew of Luna from their cover of a Wire song, which frankly wasn't that great. I'm enjoying their other stuff though!
posted by bismol at 6:55 PM on May 28, 2015

Oh man. Luna is awesome. I recently saw them in Madrid (Spain has some really hardcore Luna fans!). In brief:
- they sounded amazing
- they've got a fantastic sound engineer
- they have great stage presence
- they're super nice.

If you're a fan of music, go see them. Tickets sold out quickly for a lot of venues, but I was lucky enough to score a couple for NYC. There was nothing stale or boring or staid about their show, and I can't wait to see them again!
posted by herrdoktor at 6:56 PM on May 28, 2015

Their first reunion show sold out in like 35 seconds and I was really bummed. I'll be catching them in the fall though.
posted by anazgnos at 7:00 PM on May 28, 2015

I love Luna. Penthouse was one of my favorite albums in college. Seeing Dean Wareham eating a sandwich (just like a normal person!!) that one time is still the go to reference amongst our circle of friends for 'celebrities do everyday things, too!'.
posted by Jugwine at 7:08 PM on May 28, 2015

Oh man, Luna. Bewitched never gets old, and is one of my all-time favorite albums. There isn't a weak song on it.

If you're too young and missed the 90s, that album encapsulates as perfect a memory/sensation of the mid-late 90s as you'll find anywhere. Pick a war summer late afternoon or evening, put it on, and it'll just float you away.

Some albums channel a zeitgeist, and for me, this channels all that was mellow and good from that decade.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 7:33 PM on May 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

Wow, I had now idea there was a reunion going on. Luna was SO important to me in the 90s. I've probably seen them more times than any other band. Central Park, Battery Park -- I think they managed to be in every outdoor summer series in NY for a while there. And it was such good outdoor summer music. Good winter music too: New Year's Eve at the Mercury in 1995 or 96, Dean holding up a little portable radio for the countdown at midnight.

And it was weird, why I liked them so much. For at least a decade before that, I had been listening mostly to old jazz, Egyptian music, obscure 60s soul -- anything but overeducated white guys with guitars. And then, in the early 90s, I was in grad school, unhappy and bitter in a small town -- and somehow I heard the first song from their first album. And the idea of spending time with music pitched exactly to the demographic I actually belonged to seemed like the right thing to do just then. I sort of drifted away toward the end of their career, but the old stuff still moves me in just the same way.

(Also: I always thought Stanley Demeski was a such a perfect, subtle drummer. The band was still great after he left, but he was something special.)
posted by neroli at 7:34 PM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

About ten years ago, shortly before our music libraries exploded beyond all control, I went through a phase of hunting down song lyrics and pasting them into my mp3s. I know that user provided lyrics aren't always completely accurate, but sometimes they're even better:

He asked please stop quotin' Rodney King when in your postcards
Can't understand it anymore
And if your gonna read your poetry aloud to me
I'll have to show you to the door

It still makes me giggle, but I think California (All the Way) is vastly improved by that mondegreen. Sublime.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 7:47 PM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

I used to love Galaxie 500 back in the day, but Luna was even better

Nuh-uh! Much as I like Luna and Damon & Naomi nothing beats them all together.

(Additional coolness: Krukowski & Yang run the Exact Change Press which specializes in reprinting Surrealist/Post-/Pre-Surrealist classics. They do lovely books. Which is pretty much what you'd expect from a bunch of arty Harvard kids.)
posted by octobersurprise at 7:47 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite bands. Heard them for the first time on a college radio station in podunk Central California, and went to the local Wherehouse Records store the very next day and found the same album I heard the night before, Luna Live, in the used section. It was the only Luna album in the shop.

Saw a show in Dallas on the farewell tour and they were filming for this. Never actually saw the documentary, though. Thanks!
posted by BogusPomp at 7:49 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I will shamelessly link to this post I made a few years ago that included Luna's cover of "Indian Summer".
posted by Going To Maine at 8:02 PM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Lunapark or gtfo.

...sorry about the "gfto" part of that sentence, but I do mean it. I am, however, genuinely sorry for the turn of phrase.

...also, Indian Summer when you're peaking on acid is like the best thing ever. No lie.

You'll know when it's the Right Time. It's the same Time that the hallway floor really calls to you. OMFG the guitars.
posted by aramaic at 8:10 PM on May 28, 2015

Luna is/was awesome.
You should definitely read Dean Wareham's excellent book Black Postcards which has a lot of insight about this particular period as well as Galaxie 500, band dynamics, infidelity and all sorts of grown-up uncomfortable stuff.
posted by chococat at 8:16 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Bewitched was literally written about a bad bad breakup I was going through at the time. Like literally as in she really did follow me to California all the way and I was living like a trucker does until all of a sudden the girl of my dreams never asked and always screamed and I wondered if she was coming back into the fold and what she saw in me nobody knew now it's history and then my life revolved around taking sleeping pills just to get through and I was like how did Dean Wareham get into my head man and then I remembered that he took a ton of acid when he was in Galaxie 500 and back then I still believed LSD could do weird ESP like things and it made a lot of sense but still, it was either that relationship or that album, but it kinda fucked up my life for a few years but I had some good professional help and I'm mostly ok now but really this has got to be one of the best breakup albums of all time, or at least for white nerdy guitar dudes who came of age in the 90s.

It has always made me happy that he ended up with Jem who still looks amazing at age 51.

And yes I'm one of the insufferable fuckwads who thinks on balance Galaxie 500 was much better, both live and recorded, and On Fire is a masterpiece for the ages.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:35 PM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Watching now, goddamn I loved droney guitar music. Thank you for this post.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:43 PM on May 28, 2015

I thought Galaxie 500 was The Best Band You've Never Heard Of.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:03 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ok, one more comment then I promise I'll stop hogging the thread because nobody cares what I think anyway. My music practice space has always been adorned with the set lists taken from the most life changing, religion-finding shows (because what comes closer to church for us than dark echo-y black rooms where we get our wrists stamped and sway with plastic cups of stanky beer?). I've collected maybe 75-100 set lists and depending on the place and who I'm sharing it with there's typically room for like 10 to stick up on the wall. For the past 20 years, that ten has always included one Galaxie 500 and two Luna set lists, in fact they're up in the basement right now.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:06 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

I loved Luna-- they were hugely important to me at a certain period in my life. Good to know they reunited. I thought they were really pretty widely known, compared to Galaxie 500, but I'm old and what do I know?

(I liked Luna better than Galaxie 500, for which I will probably lose all my remaining credibility points, but anyhow.)
posted by frumiousb at 9:44 PM on May 28, 2015

By the way, add Bewitched to your suggested track list.
posted by frumiousb at 9:45 PM on May 28, 2015

I saw these guys about 2002 I guess.....the main thing I recall is, Britta had the most gorgeous orange P-bass
posted by thelonius at 3:46 AM on May 29, 2015

I always thought the line was "stop quoting Rod McKuen in your postcards", which would have complemented the "read your poetry aloud to me".
posted by pxe2000 at 3:59 AM on May 29, 2015

I always thought the line was "stop quoting Rod McKuen in your postcards"

You are correct. Which is why Rodney King was funny. Mondegreen
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 6:43 AM on May 29, 2015

Seconding the love shown here for Stanley Demeski.
posted by Kinbote at 11:11 AM on May 29, 2015

I've heard of Luna... pretty sure I cried when I heard they broke up. This is great news! Except, you know, why are they playing House of Blues in Chicago? That seems like a way big venue for them.
posted by Bunglegirl at 11:31 AM on May 29, 2015

Just here to second what item said: Dean Wareham's solo stuff is so so good.
posted by wyndham at 12:50 PM on May 29, 2015

Going to Maine, I'd put that track on an old, old mixtape and still am delighted when it plays. I missed your post, though.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:02 PM on May 29, 2015

> the most life changing, religion-finding shows (because what comes closer to church for us

The Chapel in SF where I saw Professor Wareham just absolutely wail on guitar while standing stock still & looking a little pissed off. The drummer was doing things on the toms that night that were a little reminiscent of Mo Tucker but masterfully unique and beautiful. Plamma blam boom booooo!

I'm glad Sean will be touring with them again. He seemed so bummed at the end of Tell Me...
posted by morganw at 3:20 PM on May 29, 2015

Dean Wareham, Longtime New Yorker, on Why L.A. Is the Land of Milk and Honey

I'm hoping Marc Maron will interview him for the WTF Podcast someday. They could talk about the Velvets and NYC for days.
posted by morganw at 3:22 PM on May 29, 2015


You know I tried to please ya

You're under anesthesia

Is the greatest pop couplet ever written.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:20 PM on May 29, 2015

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