Friends Of Dean Martinez – The Shadow Of Your Smile

June 2, 2014

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The only natural progression from last week’s An Album A Day theme (“Live On WFMU”) is to spend the next five days discussing my haul from the WFMU Record Fair. So today through Friday I’ll be highlighting some of the coolest titles I purchased this past weekend. Although, sadly, I thought the quality of the vinyl at this show was lower than in years past. In fact I think I purchased more records for my co-worker than I did for myself. He sent me with a “want list” and honestly I came prepared not to find anything. But he also sent me with a record to sell, which I sold very quickly for $100. Once I had his money in my pocket, it became easier to browse with his list in mind. Once I started finding things, I realized I was shopping more for someone else and not me. It took a while, but I probably wound up with about a dozen records for myself and half a dozen for him. His haul was: From Gardens Where We Feel Secure by Virginia Astley, The Spoils Of War II by Spoils of War, The Shadow Of Your Smile by Friends of Dean Martinez, and the single best find of the weekend was a still-sealed copy of the Broadcast & The Focus Group record Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age. A few minutes after I hunted down the Friends of Dean Martinez record…I found a copy for myself.

I guess my introduction to this Tucson-based desert instrumental rock group came in the early 2000s when I started listening to a lot of Calexico. Joey Burns would give interviews where he talked about the vibrant culture of the town and all the different bands who called it home. So I started listening to Giant Sand and FODM. I tried to get in touch with some of the non-Joey Burns or John Convertino members of the group when I was traveling cross-country back in 2005 but no on ever responded to me. That’s okay, Burns still did a nice — albeit brief — job of hipping me to different places I should visit while I was in town. I’m grateful he took the time to write while he was on tour in Europe. I wish our schedules would have aligned (or Bill Elm had been available) because I believe he’s right about Tucson’s rich musical history and more people should know about the great sounds being created there. Oh well. Maybe in another life.

Recorded in April of ’95 and released later that same year by Sub Pop, the first Friends of Dean Martinez studio album is, in my humble opinion, their best. I think oftentimes the first record you hear by a band becomes your favorite and remains that way forever, but with FODM the first one I heard was A Place In The Sun. Although I listened to that CD (ha, I know) like mad for a while, it was The Shadow Of Your Smile that finally hooked me. It’s not a very easy LP to find, and to have found two in the span of one weekend after never seeing one before was quite lucky. I’m pretty sure none of the other studio albums were pressed on vinyl. I’ve got that double-record set that Narnack put out a few years ago…but as far as I know Lost Horizon, Random Harvest, the aforementioned A Place In The Sun…I don’t think any of those are available on a format other than CD. This makes finally obtaining the first record an even sweeter prize. I’m gonna enjoy the hell out of it.

Friends Of Dean Martinez
The Shadow Of Your Smile
(Sub Pop – SP306, 1995)

A1. All The Pretty Horses
A2. I Wish You Love [MP3]
A3. House Of Pies
A4. Chunder
A5. Armory Park/Dwell
A6. El Tiradito
A7. Given The Time
B1. Swamp Cooler
B2. Blood Of The Earth (Or The Sun Sets Red In The West)
B3. Misty
B4. Ugly Beauty
B5. The Shadow Of Your Smile
B6. Per Sempre

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