There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Maybe the guys and gal of Luna got bored with their last full-length, too: Romantica hit the streets a mere six months ago, but the New York-based band is already checking back in with Close Cover Before Striking. The new disc collects five originals and two covers, all while raising one vexing question: How can we miss ’em if they won’t go away? Fortunately, the new mini-LP mostly makes up for the clutch of duds that eventually consigned Romantica to the trade-in scrap heap. Disc-opener “Astronaut,” for instance, alt-rocks with authority: Guitars ring, the rhythm section pounds, and ringleader Dean Wareham tries to sing just like Buddy Holly, failing by design as always. “I want to plug you in/I want to get you things/Send you a pentagram/Feed you Diazepam” goes the head-scratching opening line, unfurled over a stuttering, effects-heavy melody straight outta 1991. A cover of the Stones’ “Waiting on a Friend” finds Wareham nailing Mick’s casually expert phrasing with his alternately nasally and raspy voice, and a rockist take on Kraftwerk’s “Neon Lights” sidelines the original’s robotic synths in favor of elegantly chiming guitars. (See also Love Tractor’s suspiciously similar version on 1984’s excellent ‘Til the Cows Come Home.) The record’s originals are mostly keepers as well: “Teenage Lightning” just snags best-of-disc honors on the strength of a low-in-the-mix organ and Wareham’s warm, tube-amplified guitar, but both “Drunken Whistler,” a hypnotic instrumental, and the moody “New Haven Comet” would easily have been among Romantica’s highlights. Best of all, at no point does the congenitally goofy Wareham rhyme “Singapore noodles” with “oodles and oodles”—which is more than can be said for his performance on Luna’s previous outing. Hey, that’s progress. —Shannon Zimmerman