Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham 

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Though it's tempting to claim that L'Avventura (Jetset), the first album credited to Luna bassist Britta Phillips and guitarist/front man Dean Wareham, is a Luna album in all but name, there are some differences. The last couple of Luna discs--the full-length Romantica and the EP Close Cover Before Striking, both from 2002--were the band's leanest and most rocking in years. The chamber pop of L'Avventura, on the other hand, is just about the sleepiest thing Wareham has ever put his name on--and when you're talking about a former member of Galaxie 500 (or, for that matter, a current member of Luna) that's saying something. The rhythm section is subdued, producer Tony Visconti drapes nearly everything with slurry, cotton-candy strings and mellotron, Wareham sings nothing but gin-soaked lullabies, and Phillips frequently sounds like she's having trouble raising her tongue to the roof of her mouth. On the disco-ish "Ginger Snaps," it took me half a dozen listens to figure out that she wasn't saying "Miami falls." (When did Miami fall? I wondered, until I discovered that the line is actually "Niagara Falls.") The disc's charms lay chiefly in Phillips and Wareham's talent for making other peoples' songs their own. Madonna's "I Deserve It" is reconfigured as a laconic folk-rock sing-along, while their rendition of the Doors' "Indian Summer" (not to be confused with Luna's cover of Beat Happening's "Indian Summer") is both lighter and moodier than the original. And "Threw It Away," originally recorded by San Francisco singer-accordionist Angel Corpus Christi, sounds even more like late-period Velvet Underground than most Luna songs. The disc's best original is "Night Nurse," whose la-la-la chorus and affectionate lyrics ("Sleep together, the Milky Way / Sleep forever and a day") are so fetching you'll forget the Gregory Isaacs hit of the same name while it's playing. Saturday, June 21, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.

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