Spark Radio by Nic Harcourt: New Songs from Dean Wareham, Mr. Twin Sister + More

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It’s Friday, which means it’s time for Spark’s music expert and legendary L.A. radio DJ Nic Harcourt to weigh in on what new music he’s got on repeat at the moment. Below, he shares his newest picks added to his Spark Radio playlist and shares a spotlight on his favorite earworm of the week.

ADDS

Dean Wareham: As Much As It Was Worth
Ozuna, Anthony Santos: Senor Juez
Shame: This Side of the Sun
Pictish Trail: Melody Something
alt-J: Get Better 
Mr. Twin Sister: Beezle
The Reds Pinks & Purples: Don’t Come Home Too Soon  
Lisa LeBlanc: Entre toi pi moi pi la corde de bois
Jenny Lewis: Puppy and a Truck
Foals: Wake Me Up
Jesus Guerrero: Fracasado 

SPOTLIGHT

Dean Wareham: As Much As It Was Worth

Dean Wareham, best known for his bands Luna and Galaxie 500 hadn’t written a new song in almost seven years when he began work on his new release “I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L.A.” It’s not like he hadn’t been busy: Since the release of his last solo album, 2014’s Dean Wareham, he had made a soundtrack with his wife, Britta Phillips (for the 2015 Noah Baumbach film Mistress America), put out two releases with his recently reunited band Luna (A Sentimental Education, a covers album, and A Place of Greater Safety, an instrumental EP, both from 2017) — and that’s not to mention the regular touring and performing, which spilled into the pandemic, when he and Phillips began doing livestreams from their home in Los Angeles. (A collection largely culled from those sets, Quarantine Tapes, was released in 2020.)

“Or maybe it’s just too sunny in L.A.,” he says with a laugh, considering another possible reason for the delay in original material. “Bertolt Brecht wrote somewhere that the sunshine in Los Angeles rots the brains of writers; all they can do is work on screenplays. I don’t know if it was the sunshine, but after moving here in 2013, it took me seven years to write any new songs. There were film scores, and a lot of touring, and a couple albums of covers — so it’s not like I wasn’t doing anything. But when I finally sat down to write this album, Los Angeles found its way into the songs. It’s not a musical influence (it’s not a particularly sunny record), but where you live does tend to get into the lyrics. I wrote one song — “Red Hollywood” about the Hollywood blacklist, and another song “Why Are We in Vietnam?” mentions Echo Park: “Why are we in Tripoli? Why are we in Baghdad? Why am I stuck in Echo Park / writing songs in DADGAD?”

Supposed sun-induced brain-rot or not, when it came down to making the album, it was really all just a matter of putting an album into the calendar and committing. And so when a week of studio time opened up at the scenic Panoramic House in Stinson Beach, just north of San Francisco, he kicked it into high gear and got to work. “I think the hard thing is just to start,” he says. “When I sat down and did it, I felt the songs came pretty quickly.” and “I feel like I really sang out more than I have in a while.”

The album’s songs are dense with references and subtext, and new on the playlist this week is “As Much As It Was Worth,” a lovely slice of baroque-pop that Dean describes thus: “The song is about youth and the loss of someone you loved. I wrote it after reading an essay by Zadie Smith, about joy and suffering, but one line stuck with me, it was something Julian Barnes said to her about the death of his wife: ‘it hurts, just as much as it was worth.’” The whole of “I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L.A.” is worth your time, but if you only have three minutes, check out the Video directed by Judith Berndsen and edited by Britta Phillips.

Photo by Britta Phillips

Meet The Scientists,
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The Chefs,
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Meet The Scientists, The Artists, Community Leaders, The Chefs, The Educators, The Investors and The Innovators Who are Spark.