Galaxie 500

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Galaxie 500
Background information
OriginCambridge, Massachusetts
Years active1987–1991
Past members

Galaxie 500 was an American alternative rock band that formed in 1987 and split up in 1991 after releasing three albums: Today, On Fire and This Is Our Music.[4]

The band membership comprised guitarist/vocalist Dean Wareham, drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist and vocalist Naomi Yang.


Guitarist Dean Wareham, drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist Naomi Yang had met at the Dalton School in New York City in 1981, but began playing together during their time as students at Harvard University.[5][6][7][8] Wareham and Krukowski had formed a series of punk-influenced student bands, before Wareham returned to New York.[8] When he returned in 1987 he and Krukowski formed a new band, with Yang joining the group on bass guitar, the new group deciding on the name Galaxie 500, after a friend's car, a Ford Galaxie 500.

The band began playing gigs in Boston and New York City, and recorded a demo which they sent to Shimmy Disc label boss and producer Mark Kramer, who agreed to produce the band.[5] With Kramer at the controls, the band recorded the "Tugboat" single in February 1988, and the "Oblivious" flexi-disc, and moved on to record their debut album, Today, which was released on the small Aurora label.[6] The band toured the United Kingdom in late 1988 and in 1989, then signed to Rough Trade and released their second album, On Fire, which has been described as "lo-fi psychedelia reminiscent of Jonathan Richman being backed by The Velvet Underground",[6] and is considered the band's defining moment.[5] On Fire reached number 7 in the UK Indie Chart, and met with much critical acclaim in the United Kingdom, but was less well received by the US music press, who cited Wareham's 'vocal limitations' as a weakness.[9][10]

Galaxie 500 recorded two sessions for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 programme, these later released on the Peel Sessions album. Their cover of Jonathan Richman's "Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste" was also voted into number 41 in 1989's Festive 50 by listeners to the show.[11]

The band split up in the spring of 1991 after the release of their third album, This Is Our Music. Wareham, who had already moved back to New York, quit the band after a lengthy American tour, as preparations were underway for a tour of Japan.[6][7][12][13] As Wareham later said, "Galaxie 500 broke up because it was time. We broke up as a result of internal contradictions. Columbia Records was interested in signing us, but the making of the previous album had been very difficult--and clearly we weren't getting along--so why should we continue to sit in a room and make music together?"[12] Their last performance was on April 5, 1991, at Bowdoin College for the campus radio station, WBOR.[14]

Galaxie 500's records were released in the US and UK on the independent Rough Trade label. When Rough Trade went bankrupt in 1991, Krukowski and Yang purchased the masters at auction, reissuing them on Rykodisc in 1996 as a box set containing all three albums and another disc of rarities.[15]

Musical style and influences[edit]

Galaxie 500 used fairly simple instrumental techniques enhanced with an atmospheric production style. The Velvet Underground and Jonathan Richman have been identified as key influences.[6][9] In interviews on the Galaxie 500 DVD Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste, Wareham cites Spacemen 3 as another key inspiration.

Post-Galaxie 500 activities[edit]

After leaving Galaxie 500, Wareham tried his hand at production, working with Mercury Rev. He released a solo single, "Anesthesia," in February 1992, and formed a new band, Luna. Krukowski and Yang continued to record under the moniker Pierre Etoile (French for "Rock Star"), and then Damon and Naomi (whose first two releases were also produced by Kramer), and as members of Magic Hour.[6] They also began the avant-garde press Exact Change.[16]

In June 2010 Wareham announced on his website that he would be going on an autumn tour under the moniker "Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500," where he would, as the moniker suggests, only play Galaxie 500 songs.[17]


Galaxie 500's music had an influence on many later indie music groups, including Low.[9] Their music has been covered and referenced by several well known artists. In Liz Phair's song "Stratford-on-Guy", she sings, "And I was pretending that I was in a Galaxie 500 video." In Xiu Xiu's song "Dr. Troll", Jamie Stewart sings, "Listen to On Fire and pretend someone could love you." On Neutral Milk Hotel's debut album, On Avery Island, the song "Naomi" was written about Naomi Yang, and includes the line "There is no Naomi in view/She walks through Cambridge stocks and strolls"; in 2011, Yang created a music video for the song, including an anecdote recounting how Neutral Milk Hotel member Julian Koster gave her a copy of the album and told her the song was written about her.[18] The Brian Jonestown Massacre's And This Is Our Music was titled in reference to the group's album This Is Our Music (which itself was titled after Ornette Coleman's album This Is Our Music).[9] Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore has cited Galaxie 500's album Today as "the guitar record of 1988".[19]

"Tugboat" has been covered by many artists, including The Submarines, who recorded it with indie rock producer Adam Lasus for their iTunes Live Session EP, British Sea Power, on Rough Trade compilation Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before..., Welsh lo-fi band Joanna Gruesome, and Portastatic, Kiwi Jr., for a planned concert of Galaxie 500 covers at Rough Trade Brooklyn set to coincide with Record Store Day and the release of Galaxie's Copenhagen on vinyl. In 2010 the bands Cloudland Canyon and Citay, appeared on a 7-inch EP together wherein they both covered Galaxie 500, the former taking on "Temperature's Rising" and the latter doing a version of "Tugboat". English artist World Of Fox covered "Flowers" in his 2011 release on Where It's At Is Where You Are Records.[citation needed]

In 2012 the song "Tugboat" was featured in the film The Perks of Being a Wallflower, directed by Stephen Chbosky and based on his book of the same name.[20]


Studio albums[edit]


Post-split releases[edit]


  • "Tugboat"/"King of Spain" (Aurora, 1988)
  • "Oblivious" included on a hard-vinyl compilation 7-inch free with Chemical Imbalance magazine
  • "Blue Thunder"/"Hail" (split w/ Straitjacket Fits) (1989)
  • "Blue Thunder EP" (Rough Trade, 1990)
  • "Rain"/"Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste" (1990) Caff
  • "Fourth of July"/"Here She Comes Now" (Rough Trade, 1990)
  • "Snowstorm" (live)/"Pictures" (live) (2004)

Promotional videos[edit]

  • "Tugboat" (1988)
  • "Blue Thunder" (1989)
  • "When Will You Come Home" (1989)
  • "Fourth of July" (1990)


  • Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste (2004)


  1. ^ McGonigal, Mike. "Temperature's Rising: Galaxie 500, An Oral History". Pitchfork. May 3, 2010.
  2. ^ Richardson, Mark (March 30, 2010). "Galaxie 500: Today / On Fire / This Is Our Music". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  3. ^ "Galaxie 500: Uncollected | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. August 2, 2004. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  4. ^ Petridis, Alexis (March 11, 2010). "Galaxie 500: Today/On Fire/This Is Our Music". The Guardian. Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Ankeny, Jason. "Galaxie 500 Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved March 25, 2008.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Strong, Martin C. (1999). The Great Alternative & Indie Discography. Canongate. ISBN 0-86241-913-1.
  7. ^ a b Larkin, Colin (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Indie and New Wave Music. Guinness Publishing. pp. 120/1. ISBN 0-85112-579-4.
  8. ^ a b Thompson, Dave (2000) Alternative Rock, Miller Freeman Books, ISBN 0-87930-607-6, p.380-381
  9. ^ a b c d Buckley, Peter (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. pp. 408–409. ISBN 1-84353-105-4.
  10. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980–1999. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 0-9517206-9-4.
  11. ^ "Keeping It Peel : Galaxie 500". Keeping It Peel. BBC. Retrieved March 25, 2008.
  12. ^ a b McGonigal, Mike (May 10, 2010). "Temperature's Rising: Galaxie 500". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  13. ^ Andy on April 5, 2021 (April 5, 2021). "GALAXIE 500 have split (30 years on)". A Head Full of Wishes. Retrieved October 25, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ "A dream pop legend dies at Bowdoin College". September 19, 2014.
  15. ^ Rosen, Craig. (October 5, 1996). "Galaxie 500 Catalog Rises again with Rykodisc Box." Billboard, pp. 14, 15, 19, volume 108, number 40.
  16. ^ "Frame.HTML". Archived from the original on January 15, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2010.
  17. ^ "Dean & Britta » Blog Archive » D&B band plays Galaxie 500 shows". September 10, 2010. Archived from the original on September 10, 2010.
  18. ^ "Watch: Galaxie 500's Naomi Yang Makes a Video for Neutral Milk Hotel's "Naomi" | News". Pitchfork. November 15, 2011. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  19. ^ Bollig, Ben (October 2004). "Galaxie 500 "Uncollected" (review)". No Ripcord. Retrieved March 25, 2008.
  20. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (August 2012). "'Perks Of Being A Wallflower' Soundtrack Features Sonic Youth, Galaxie 500, David Bowie, The Smiths & More". IndieWire. Retrieved January 21, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • McGonigal, Mike. Temperature's Rising: An Oral and Visual History of Galaxie 500. Oregon: Yeti Publishing, 2013
  • Wareham, Dean. Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance. New York: Penguin, 2008.