Known for his laconic tenor delivery and lyrical, often psychedelic pop anthems, Dean Wareham initially built a cult following in the late '80s as the lead singer/songwriter with the influential trio Galaxie 500. The band's hypnotic, lo-fi sound helped shape the sound of indie rock, in part paving the way for subgenres like shoegaze and slowcore. After the breakup of Galaxie 500, Wareham cultivated an even more devout fan base fronting his band Luna, whose buoyant, dreamy sound built upon his love of bands like Velvet Underground and Television, as well as songwriters like Jimmy Webb and Serge Gainsbourg. The band's albums, like 1994's Bewitched, 1995's Penthouse, and 2002's Romantica, earned critical acclaim and became staples of alternative and college radio playlists. Wareham has also released a handful of albums as one-half of the duo Dean & Britta alongside his wife vocalist/bassist Britta Phillips, including supplying the soundtrack to several of acclaimed director Noah Baumbach's films. Despite his lengthy career, it wasn't until 2014's eponymously titled Dean Wareham that he issued an official, full-length solo album.
Born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1963, Wareham spent most of his teen years living in New York City where his family moved in 1977. After high school, he moved to Boston for college, and spent a year living abroad in Germany before returning to Boston. In 1987, he formed Galaxie 500 with his high school and college friends drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist Naomi Yang. The band signed to famed indie label Rough Trade and released their first album, Today, in 1988. Although profoundly overlooked by mainstream audiences, the group's languorous, Velvet Underground-influenced songs developed a devoted fan base, and prefigured much of the indie rock subgenres that would obsess fans in during the '90s alternative rock era. Wareham issued three albums with Galaxie 500 before parting ways with the group in 1991. At the same time, label troubles found Rough Trade declaring bankruptcy, a move that left the band's albums in limbo (Krukowski later bought the master tapes at an auction, and reissued them on Rykodisc in 1996). Fatigued by touring and looking to start fresh, Wareham left the band and moved back to New York City, where he released the EP Anesthesia, and contributed vocals to Mercury Rev's "Car Wash Hair."
With 1995's Penthouse, Wareham continued to solidify his reputation as an indie rock standard bearer. Once again, there were esteemed guests, including an appearance by Television's Tom Verlaine, as well as a duet between Wareham and Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier on a cover Serge Gainsbourg's 1968 classic "Bonnie and Clyde." Pup Tent followed two years later and found the band experimenting with horns and a broader palette of guitar tones. Though critically well-liked, Luna was eventually dropped by Elektra before the release of its fifth album, The Days of Our Nights, which was ultimately issued by Jericho. However, the lack of major-label support did nothing to diminish Luna's adoring fan base. The concert album Luna Live arrived on Arena Rock in 2001.
In 2014, Wareham issued his first full-length solo album, the eponymously titled Dean Wareham, which featured production by My Morning Jacket's Jim James. The following year, he and Phillips scored another Baumbach film, Mistress America. Wareham also contributed to Phillips' own debut solo effort, 2015's Luck or Magic. The duo then reunited with their Luna bandmates in 2017, issuing the covers album, A Sentimental Education, and a six-song EP of newly penned original instrumentals, A Place of Greater Safety. They also embarked on a tour of Spain and North America. The psychedelic cowboy collaboration, Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre, arrived in 2018. ~ Matt Collar