This is a rare album in my collection in that whenever I hear a track off it at random I really can’t work out who it is.
There is very little to connect this debut release to the subsequent breakthrough works from Evan Dando and associates.
Back in the day, the Lemos where yet another hardcore-ish punk band, trying to channel some of that Hüsker Dü energy.
They don’t hit any such heights however. They are a little closer to the Descendents in that the tracks scream along at rapid pace (and for short periods – most tracks run less than 90 seconds). The songwriting has occasional moments where it steps beyond the simple.
As suits the genre, the sillier tracks have gre atersticking power (e.g. Rabbit and the charmingly Sid Vicious-does-My-Way-like version of a ‘classic’ I’ve heard far too often during my reviews, namely Amazing Grace).
What is missing here is any real hint of the softly slacker Dando voice. He shares vocal duties from track to track, but it’s a struggle to pick which ones are his. He doesn’t even take lead on the best track on the album:
So don’t pick up this album expecting to hear jangle-pop – it’s just low-rent punk.
File under: But there’s not much to like about them
I’m currently on a worktrip to Thailand. Looking ahead at the CDs on my agenda, I can see 3 more Led Zeps plus 3 from Ben Lee, so I’ve made the executive decision to alternate them (lest I got over Zepped)…It also means I’ll have reviewed 5 debut albums in a row!
Ben Lee is a character who divides the Aussie music fan community, as he’s always been unusually brash, and no one really looks a prodigy.
Lee was still only 16 when this debut hit the shelves, bursting with 21 tracks of (mainly) acoustic artistry and smarty-pants teenage angst.
Little Benny had already won some hearts with his Dando-tribute Wish I Was Him (which unfortunately isn’t on this album – you’ll have to seek out a Noise Addict EP):
That track exemplifies both the attraction and frustrations with this collection. Lee has a good pop ear, and patches together some cute sets of lyrics. He was mightily confident, strumming his guitar at increasingly high-speed and belting out odes to various girls, bands and actresses (chronicling and presaging the weird celeb-infused life he was entering).
The frustration is the lack of editing. There are too few actual gems on here, and a lot that would benefit from some polish, taking them beyond a nice couplet or two. He struggled to find a means of overcoming his weak voice (J.Richman should have been a guide)
Perhaps his youthful exuberance and rush should have been tempered. He also should have been encouraged to embrace the fuller-band sound on more tracks. The single Pop Queen hinted at what he could have achieved here:
File under: Can your Grandpa do this?
Now, this is a blast from the past.
For 10 minutes back in the early 1990s, Julian Hatfield was the ‘it girl’ of the indie scene, the female counterpoint to the rise of Evan Dando.
This, her first solo effort, certainly captures the sound and vibe of that period perfectly. Her fragile vocals (but with a clear pop bent) compete (successfully) with jangly guitars (a lot of them from Dando) and medium-paced rhythms.
Her lyrics feel like they’ve been penned by some Ethan Hawke/Winona Ryder character (and the cover art could indeed be Ms.Ryder). There’s that self-conscious/self-loathing vibe that all sensitive slackers aimed for.
There’s nothing outrageously path-breaking on here. I suspect if you handed this to the ‘youth of today’ they’d shrug their shoulders and tweet back that they don’t get it.
But for me it recalls a simpler time when these little songs sounded like they were expositions of a tender soul. The pairing of Ugly and Everybody Loves Me But You showcase an insecure young woman, while Nirvana is the classic tortured rockout for jumping around your bedroom.
I See You is also a cute homage to the brave men and women of ER (ICU… get it??):
File under: You probably needed to be there