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Damon And Naomi - The Sub Pop Years

  by Jon Rogers

published: 23 / 9 / 2009

Damon And Naomi - The Sub Pop Years
Label: 20/20/20
Format: CD


Gorgeous, but monotonous-sounding compilation album from former Galaxie 500 stars Damon and Naomi, which collects together highlights from the four alabums they made for the Sub Pop label between 1995 and 2002

The former Galaxie 500 duo seem to be on something of a high lately. The latest bout of interest was kick-started by the re-release of the pair’s first album release 'More Sad Hits' and managing positive reviews in 'The Independent' and 'The Sunday Times'. And now the Americans have built on that with this compilation from the years the band were signed to Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt’s Sub Pop, a label one synonymous with grunge, a relationship that lasted between 1995 and 2002. During that time Damon and Naomi made four albums for the label, all of which are represented here by the highlights of each album. Instead of the usual chronological listening the album mixes things up so a track from 'The Wondrous World of Damon and Naomi' can sit next to 'Song to the Siren: Live in San Sebastian' (which wasn’t really a live album, despite the title). And here lies the band’s strength and weakness. All fifteen songs showcased here show off the duo in their best light. Songs drift by in a hazy, narcoleptic state. Gently understated but powerful enough to make a lasting impression. Things never get that animated or rushed as the band inhabit that twilight world of consciousness and sleepiness. They make it seem all so effortless as songs like 'Eye of the Storm', 'The Navigator' and their take on Tim Buckley’s 'Song to the Siren' gracefully glide by. This really does deserve to be described as bedroom music, or perhaps music for the bedroom: music to fall asleep to, or awake to. It draws on the more left-field folk just as much as the softer moments of the third Velvet Underground album. It’s all beautifully understated and what the band states is just as important as what it doesn’t. Nothing it too elaborate, usually a simple drum beat, a gentle guitar part over the top – and the members of Japan’s psychedelic Ghost here and there – and some luscious vocal harmonising. It’s easy to be captivated by its unassuming nature. Over the entire compilation Damon and Naomi barely put a foot wrong and this really is sublime. Overall though this compilation shows just how static the pair are. Although Ghost’s Michio Kurihara pops up on nine of the songs here there’s really little to distinguish the band’s development. Unless you know the songs could have come from any one of the albums they made for the label. Okay, clearly the idea of ‘progress’ isn’t important to either of them – and that’s no bad thing – but there’s so much similarity here and who wants to make the same record over and over? What’s the point of merely treading water? And one other, minor gripe. Clearly this compilation is designed for those not yet familiar with their songs and acts as a shop window for the curious but there’s nothing here that will really interest those already initiated. All the songs have been lifted directly from the individual albums and there aren’t any alternate takes or “previously unreleased” versions. 'The Sub Pop Years' though introduces the band nicely – although it’s not a definitive history – and showcases the pair in the best possible light.

Track Listing:-
1 Eulogy To Lenny Bruce
2 I’m Yours
3 Forgot To Get High
4 New York City
5 Eye Of The Storm
6 Judah And The Maccabees
7 Tour Of The World
8 Song To The Siren
9 The Navigator
10 The Mirror Phase
11 How Long
12 The New World
13 The Great Wall
14 In The Sun
15 Turn Of The Century

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Interview (2009)
Damon And Naomi - Interview
Dominic Simpson speaks to husband-and-wife team and art rock duo Damon and Naomi before a show at the Luminaire in London about their time with lo-fi psychedelic rockers Galaxie 500 and their own subsequent hightly acclaimed career since then

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More Sad Hits (2008)
Damon And Naomi - More Sad Hits
In our 'Re : View' section, in which our writers look back at albums from the past, Jon Rogers writes about former Galaxie 500 members Damon and Naomi's melancholic debut album, 'More Sad Hits', which has recently been reissued

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False Beats and True Hearts (2011)
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