Friends of Dean Martinez

  • Friends of Dean Martinez
  • The Shadow of Your Smile (Sub Pop) 1995 
  • Retrograde (Sub Pop) 1997 

Originally the Friends of Dean Martin, this Tucson side project was started in 1993 by John Convertino and Joey Burns of Giant Sand with Van Christian and Tom Larkins of Naked Prey (the quintet’s other member, steel guitarist Bill Elm, was in Naked Prey) to attempt a consciously landlocked take on the instrumental combo concept. Southwestern through and through, The Shadow of Your Smile (on which Giant Sand leader Howe Gelb drops by to play a little piano and organ) owes a little something to both the solemn slide swoon of Santo and Johnny (Elm’s specialty) and a mood-samba sound ideal for sipping tequila by the pool (credit Convertino’s handy vibework and marimba tickling). A lot of main writer Burns’ originals have the jivey cool of an Angelo Badalamenti score, but the group’s most potent and useful ability is to conjure up romantic visions of the desert at twilight, which it does on-of all things-Thelonious Monk’s “Ugly Beauty” as well as the traditional “All the Pretty Horses” and Christian’s “House of Pies.”

[Ira Robbins]

See also: Giant Sand