Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips have been a romantic couple for a long time now. Long enough to make two proper full-lengths, an EP, and most recently the gorgeously crafted 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Test, for which you can find them occasionally popping up to perform in art museums and gallery openings. Five years ago, though, Wareham and Phillips were putting the finishing touches on Luna, a not-quite-celebrated-enough indie pop outfit who released eight solid albums over the course of their career, and preparing to team up for their own personal endeavors, both professional and matrimonial. In 2006, Luna released their final album, Rendezvous, and filmed an elaborate DVD, Tell Me Do You Miss Me, that chronicled the rise, near stardom, and final curtain call of the ensemble. Now, it’s time to rejoice in the band’s hypnotic sounds again, as their final three albums are re-released, re-mastered and re-shuffled with the complete and obligatory bonus recordings. However, you’ll have to look online to purchase these reissues, as they’re available as digital only releases on Amazon, iTunes, Rhapsody, Emusic, and Bandcamp.
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Like the Before Today version of a House Arrest tune, Echo Lake cover an old Ariel Pink tune and, though plenty gauzy, is far hi-er fi than its original. Yet, it’s really all the twinkly shoegazed reverb that makes the track sound truly different than the original (Echo Lake are not a group to shy from… echo). Perhaps this was the band 4AD meant to sign?
For their new video, “All Your Light (Times Like These)”, Portland’s Portugal. The Man. passed the reigns over to filmmakers Justin Kramer and Lee Hardcastle. The pair created a clever claymation treatment which depicts an epic struggle for survival in a dangerous world of colorful caves and plastic cups. When singer/songwriter John Gourley begins the song with the lyrics, “I’m just a shadow of a bigger man,” the sculpted creatures represent far more than what is really just molded clay. The song is off of this year’s release, In the Mountain. In the Cloud.
With a new tour about to begin David Bazan fans can get a little taste of the man in action with bassist Andy Fitts and drummer Alex Westcoat via a new Daytrotter session (Bazan’s third) and an appearance on the venerable Austin City Limits. The Daytrotter session finds the band running through three tracks—“Eating Paper”, “Level With Yourself” and “Virginia” with an intensity that bodes well for the group’s upcoming performances.
With this year’s Strange Negotiations continuing to garner the onetime Pedro The Lion man critical acclaim, the road seems the perfect place for Bazan to connect with fans, which he will be doing straight through the middle of December, starting in Spokane, Washington and ending in Eugene, Oregon. Although those bookends might make it seem as though Bazan isn’t really traveling all that far, the tour winds through the middle of the country, to the south and southwest before he brings it all back home.
In the burning season in Indonesia, farmers clear the land, in order to develop palm oil plantations. Achmadi is one of these farmers, introduced at the start of Cathy Henkel’s documentary The Burning Season, in 2007. Such deforestation destroys the habitats of endangered orangutans, and also comprises 20% of global carbon emissions. The film looks at the problem from multiple angles, including Achmadi’s and also 29-year-old Australian entrepreneur Dorjee Sun. A green activist and millionaire (owing to a successful recruitment software company and the creative agency, Joosed), Sun plans to “capitalize on climate change,” and help to save the planet at the same time, by selling carbon credits. Once Sun secures an agreement among three of Indonesia’s governors, the film follows him as he travels around the globe, pitching the idea to banks, Starbucks, eBay, and other corporations. His presentations appeal to their bottom lines: there is money to be made in such investments (a helpful bit of animation shows dollar signs hanging off tree branches). The film cuts back to Achmadi in tears, worrying about his family’s survival in the face of increasing restrictions and clampdowns on burning: “Who cares about us?” he worries. “They talk about arrests and bans on burning the forest. I’m already scared of losing my head.” Sun hasn’t forgotten: he hopes to put farmers to work in other ways and save the orangutans he remembers adoring as a child.
Following a premiere at the Tribeca Film festival in 2009, as well as a turn on PBS’ documentary series, Wide Angle in 2008, the film is now available on demand from FilmBuff.
See PopMatters’ review of the film as it appeared on PBS’ Wide Angle.