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Dean Wareham Announces New Album, Shares Single 'The Past is Our Plaything'

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The accompanying video was directed by L.A.-based artist Alexandra Cabral (Found Sound Dream Drama “Escape-Ism”). 

Dean Wareham Announces New Album, Shares Single 'The Past is Our Plaything'

On October 15, Dean Wareham will release a new album, I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L.A. via Double Feature Records. Today he reveals the LP's first single "The Past Is Our Plaything," the album's Byrds-y opener. Wareham notes,"'The Past Is Our Plaything' was recorded at a studio on Stinson Beach, just north of San Francisco, in November 2020. The song sorta grew out of observations by Julian Barnes in my favorite book last year - the Man In the Red Coat - about a collection of dandies, drug addicts, artists and writers in belle epoque France and England." The accompanying video was directed by L.A.-based artist Alexandra Cabral (Found Sound Dream Drama "Escape-Ism").

Since the release of his last solo album, 2014's Dean Wareham, Dean made a film soundtrack -- Mistress America -- with his wife, Britta Phillips, released an album and toured with his recently reunited group Luna. With Phillips he has also been doing regular livestreams from their home in Los Angeles (a collection largely culled from those sets, Quarantine Tapes, was released in 2020). Yet I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L.A. marks the first new songs Wareham has written in almost seven years. Considering a possible reason for the delay in original material, Wareham jokes "maybe it's just too sunny in L.A."

When it came down to it though it was really all just a matter of putting an album into the calendar and committing. A week of studio time opened up at Panoramic House in Stinson Beach, so he kicked it into high gear and got to work. "The hard thing is just to start," he says. "When I sat down and did it, the songs came pretty quickly."

Armed with a batch of these inspired songs, and ready with a couple of choice covers - "Under Skys" by Lazy Smoke and "Duchess" by Scott Walker - Wareham decamped to the studio with producer Jason Quever (Beach House, Cass McCombs) and a tried and true duo of collaborators: Phillips on bass, vocals, and keys, and Roger Brogan on drums. Quever, an accomplished performer in his own right via his band Papercuts, also plays considerably on the album across a variety of instruments.

I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L.A. is Wareham's first singer/songwriter-style material in a long time, but it's also some of the strongest of his career, which stretches back to the late 1980s, when his group Galaxie 500 changed the face of what we now know as indie rock. You can feel the lineage of that period on the album, particularly in Wareham's inimitable vocals - "I feel like I really sang out more than I have in a while."

The studio's setting is reflected on the album which moves like an easy breeze, the reverbed guitars pulsing pleasantly in conversation throughout. But with the pandemic raging on while they had to safely put it all together, there's tension and anxiety in there too. "We were all inundated in politics, all swimming in that," Wareham remembers. Of course, if you want to talk politics, the mayor of Los Angeles is mentioned right there in the title of the album, which is itself the first line on today's single "The Past Is Our Plaything." Wareham knows people are going to ask him about that - what would he have to say to the mayor, if given the chance? "It's gonna happen," he shrugs. "But the answer is right there too -- I have nothing to say."

Listen here:

Photo Credit: Kourosh Erfanian


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