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Damon & Naomi


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Folk/pop

Status:

Most recent release, Fortune (2015)

See also:

Damon & Naomi's site

Damon & Naomi are former members of Galaxie 500.

Comparisons:

Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band, Tom Rapp and Pearls Before Swine

Covers/own material:

Mostly own, but frequent covers

General comments:

You may know them from such bands as Galaxie 500, in which they were the rhythm section. Now Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang have formed a folk duo called Damon & Naomi, which plays some amazingly gorgeous music. The gauzy dream-core approach of Galaxie 500 is supplemented with a more traditional song structure, and their music is beautiful and heartfelt. Damon & Naomi were very heavily influenced by psychedelic British folk of the 1960s—bands like Fairport Convention and The Incredible String Band, as well as their American counterparts, Tom Rapp and Pearls Before Swine. Their music has also been informed by Indian movie musicals and angular Japanese art-rockers like Ghost. (tugboat@channel1.com)

they are amazing, and make the most beautiful melancholic music. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

Comments about live performance:

I think I'm one of the bigger Damon & Naomi fans in the area, since I've been to every live show they've done since the rerelease of More Sad Hits and travelled many miles to see them at CMJ last fall. Usually they end up trying to make like the coolest summer-camp counselors at smelly beer halls full of yobs, but the atmosphere at Passim's was much more suited to their brand of dreamy folk drone. Most of their set came from their most recent album, Playback Singers, which has a more live feel to it than their previous, production-heavy work with Kramer of Shimmy-Disc fame, though they also played some older tunes, including a glorious new all-Naomi arrangement of "This Information Age". (2/99, tugboat@channel1.com)

Recommended first album:

More Sad Hits or Playback Singers

Recordings:


Pierre Etoille EP

Release info:

released pseudonymously on Rough Trade, 1991 (re-released as Damon & Naomi's Pierre Etoille on Elefant Records as ER-306)

Availability:

Carried in better indie and import stores worldwide

Ecto priority:

Medium, higher if you're a fan of folk-pop or are a fan/completist of Galaxie 500 and Damon & Naomi

Comments:

This was the first release Damon and Naomi put out after the dissolution of their previous band, Galaxie 500, recorded under somewhat clandestine conditions while they were disbanding. Damon has been quoted as saying he wanted the record to sound as little like Galaxie 500 as possible, so this offers more straightforward folk than its follow-up, More Sad Hits. There's a bit of the dreamy sound of Galaxie 500, though the straightforward production doesn't support as much of a gauzy sound. (tugboat@channel1.com)

More Sad Hits

Release info:

1992—Shimmy Disc; 1997 (re-release)—Sub Pop Records—SPCD 385

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Essential

Comments:

The soft-rock duo Damon & Naomi at the height of their powers. For More Sad Hits they reunited with Galaxie 500 producer Kramer, creating the great lost Galaxie record. The dreamy, jam-inspired arrangements their previous band perfected are wedded here to some wonderful songs, bringing a terrific new element into something that was wonderful to begin with. Lyrically, the duo deals with the loss of a friendship eloquently, bringing a chapter in music history to a glorious close. (tugboat@channel1.com)

The Wondrous World of Damon & Naomi

Release info:

1995—Sub Pop Records—322

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Medium/high

Comments:

This one isn't as emotionally immediate as More Sad Hits, mostly because it's Damon & Naomi trying to figure out the significance of music in their lives now that they've come to some closure with the dissolution of Galaxie 500 and the loss of their friend Dean Wareham. Musically, this is brighter—the shoegazing tone of More Sad Hits gives way to a more straightforward folk sound, and features some of their strongest ballads ("Tour Of The World", "How Long") and Naomi's most appealing singing yet. The worst part of this package, however, is the elaborate and sometimes bizarre production courtesy Shimmy Disc doyen Kramer, who complicates simple tunes with vibrato and strange sound effects, and muddies Damon's voice into an out-and-out whine. (tugboat@channel1.com)

The Navigator/Awake In A Muddle 7"

Release info:

1997—Earworm—3

Availability:

Through better indie/import stores

Ecto priority:

Low. The songs are great and the sleeve is pretty, but since both songs were re-released on Playback Singers...

Comments:

The A side, "The Navigator", is a sad tune ostensibly about the breakup of Galaxie 500, once again with some insightful, poetic lyrics, a wistful melody, and some gentle crooning from Damon. "Awake In A Muddle", on the flip, is a bright, hopeful cover of a Ghost tune, sung with cherubic charm by Naomi. (tugboat@channel1.com)

Playback Singers

Release info:

1998—Sub Pop—425

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Comments:

I have my fears about this one being their last, since at nine songs it's not as long as the others and almost half of it is taken up with re-releases of compilation tracks, and it also marks the duo's break with longtime producer Kramer. That said, Playback Singers best realizes the band's warm, appealing live sound, and is the kind of album you'd imagine the two coolest camp counselors would make when they weren't singing folk songs around the campfire. Though the album harbors some of their angst over Galaxie 500's breakup (as in "The Navigator" and "Turn of the Century"), it's also permeated with a warm, happy tone—their cover of Ghost's "Awake In A Muddle" and "We're Not There" positively bounce along with joyfulness. If this is indeed their last foray into music, what a tremendous grace note to bow out on. (tugboat@channel1.com)


Thanks to Chelsea for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2015-05-14 20:41:30.
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