When the Andy Warhol Museum decided recently to hire a band to write a soundtrack for Warhol’s famous silent-film screen tests, it couldn’t have picked a more appropriate act than Dean & Britta. Watching the resulting DVD, you’ll find the images of the glamorous and seedy denizens of Warhol’s Factory (Lou Reed, Nico, Edie Sedgwick, and Dennis Hopper among them) are nicely paired with Dean & Britta’s beautiful but aloof music. Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips have been working toward this kind of mix of music and film, sophistication and simplicity since their old band, Luna, broke up in 2005. Maybe longer.
Wareham first gained national attention in Galaxie 500, the band he founded with Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang when all three were students at Harvard in the late ’80s. That band’s sparse, slow sound would eventually become a big influence on certain corners of the indie-rock universe. It also set the template for the personal style Wareham has put on ever since — smart, somewhat reserved, and vaguely disreputable. It’s a cool persona for the stage, but Wareham uses it even in Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance, a book of memoirs he published to good reviews last year.
Phillips comes from a different direction. She was the singing voice of Jem, the ’80s cartoon about a rock star. Later, Phillips played a drug-addicted rocker in the movie Satisfaction alongside Julia Roberts and Liam Neeson. She joined Luna in 2000, and after that band’s breakup, she and Wareham scored films, including The Squid and the Whale. Their first album as a duo, L’Avventura, was named after a Michelangelo Antonioni film. Maybe someone will make a movie about Dean & Britta one day.
DEAN & BRITTA: The Loft, Friday, October 9, 8 p.m. 858-534-8497. $26.