friends of dean martinez
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friends of dean martinez

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The best kept secret in music


"Atardecer (Knitting Factory)"

Atardecer (Knitting Factory)
We humans are small and insignificant. To experience the sickening thrill of this knowledge, take a drive through Arizona's Painted Desert, exiting between Winslow and Two Guns down the six-mile stretch that ends at Barringer Meteorite Crater. As if you need to feel any tinier in the achingly vast, lonely desert, here's a 50,000-year-old, mile-wide, 570-feet-deep reminder of how much you don't matter. On Atardecer, the Friends of Dean Martinez take a grandiose, all-instrumental trip down the Barringer turnoff and teeter at the rim where outer space has left its indelible mark on the desert. The result is nothing short of agoraphobia-inducing. The Grand Canyon State has more than one hole in the ground at which to contemplate time and space, and despite best Friend Bill Elm's relocation to Austin, the group has never sounded more rooted in its former home of Arizona. Atardecer is as equally timeless as the Friends' first two Sub Pop releases, and though all the elements for kitsch are there -- Moog, harmonium, theremin, organ -- the merging of space and desert themes has left no room for irony. Where Fifties Les Baxter space-capade lounge glides through dishwasher showrooms with the sparkly promises of easy monthly payments, Atardecer floats over sandscapes, surfs in zero G, and dodges wayward metallic space debris. The white-noisey opener "Quickening" tears the irony factor apart at the seams like it was a timeworn road map, and from there, the harmonica, nylon-string guitar, and most of all, Elm's steel, scream that the universe is indifferent to your concerns. Beam me up, Billy, we're too self-important down here.
4.5 stars -- Kim Mellen - Austin Chronicle 2/07


The Shadow of Your Smile (Subpop 1995)
Retrograde (Subpop 1997)
Atardecer (Knitting Factory 1999)
A Place In the Sun (Knitting Factory 2000)
Wichita Lineman (Glitterhouse 2001)
Under the Waves (Glitterhouse 2003)
On the Shore (Narnack 2003)
Random Harvest Nanack/Glitterhouse 2004)
Live at Club 2 (Aero 2005)
Lost Horizon (Aero 2005)
Fast Food Nation Soundtrack (Park the Van 2006)


Feeling a bit camera shy


A Southwestern alternative rock supergroup of sorts, Arizona's Friends of Dean Martinez features past and present members of Giant Sand, Calexico, and Naked Prey. Giant Sand leader Howe Gelb, though not a member of the group, plays guest keyboards on their debut album, The Shadow of Your Smile, a surprisingly retro set of guitar-based instrumentals inspired by instrumental and surf rock of the late '50s and early '60s. With plenty of lounge music and desert country guitar twang thrown in, it's certainly retro in feel, but not revivalist; with Bill Elm's keening steel guitar at the forefront and occasional insertions of found sound and experimental bits, they evoke open dusty landscapes with wit and, one suspects, a bit of tongue-in-cheek irony. At any rate, it's a refreshing change from the often too-serious alternative rock paths that the musicians pursue in their full-time bands. Retrograde followed in 1997, and two years later the Friends returned with Atardecer. A Place in the Sun appeared in early 2000. The group switched to Narnack for 2003's On the Shore and the following year's Random Harvest, and also released Under the Waves on the German imprint Glitterhouse. Aero released the concert album Live at Club 2 and studio record Lost Horizon in 2005. 2006 found them scoring Richard Linklater's film adaptation of Eric Schlosser's best seller " Fast Food Nation", a Fox Searchlight wide release due out in November 2006.