There are a number of things to love about Luna, the band of New York indie rockers led by Dean Wareham: Those pretty, languid melodies, that coolly unhurried guitar playing, Wareham”s pithy lyrics and deadpan vocals.
There”s also ample reason to feel indifferent about Luna: Those melodies don”t exactly bowl you over now, do they, and their doggedly laid-back qualities might very well turn off even those hipsters attuned to the band”s guitar-rock forebears. Their best stuff indeed sounds a lot like their worst stuff the difference is that the best stuff slowly ingratiates itself, revealing hooks that you hadn”t thought existed or were hidden beneath some guitar fuzz.
Live is full of their best stuff. Having taped two long sets (at the 9:30 Club in D.C. and New York”s Knitting Factory, respectively), the band had plenty of material to choose from, and though fans will quibble with the song selection where”s “IHOP,” yo? there”s almost nary a weak spot on the record. “Tiger Lily” and “Sideshow by the Seashore” sport the disc”s two most memorable melodies, but just about everything here is engaging and eminently hummable, something that certainly can”t be said of the band”s last two studio albums.
Luna usually work slowly on your senses theirs is the stuff you listen to after you get home from the party, not during it. Here, they let their hair down. “23 Minutes in Brussels” and “Friendly Advice” find the quintet kicking out extended jams, rocking loosely and fluidly but never straying too far from tunefulness. Guitars sway and hum softly, speed up and take off as the groove heats up, then return home, ready for another dose of Wareham”s captivating songcraft.
You could argue that Luna”s shot at the alt-rock bigtime passed when they were dropped by Elektra Records nearly two years ago. But they probably wouldn”t have hit it big, anyway, as these 14 tracks all of which are way too good for the current rock mainstream to latch onto suggest. Just think of this record as Luna”s very own Greatest Misses Live!