This is an excellent EP from The Lemonheads…
But unfortunately the three or four quality tracks brought along some stinker friends.
This album could be one of the biggest weapons in the war on drugs, as clearly the Colombian nose candy had really started to wreak havoc on olde Evan by now.
Sure he occasionally still penned a nice little poppy ditty. If I Could Talk I’d Tell You is a delicate, summery number. Tenderfoot is the only vaguely rocky track on here to not sound like a dreary grunge c-grader.
It’s not a good sign that the other tracks that aren’t skip-worthy are covers. Everyone’s favourite ode to violence against woman (Knoxville Girl) reminds us that Dando kinda wants to be Gram Parsons.
The cover of Smudge‘s Outdoor Type is a curious one. I’ve always loved the original with its clever lyrics about the urbane sense of failed masculinity (and the lies on which a relationship might be built). The original was refreshingly shambolic and a little dirgy:
The Lemonheads version rips a riff off Billy Bragg, and works very well for Dando’s voice (and image), but somehow leaves me feeling a little cheated:
So does the rest of this album.
File under: Most of these things stank
Here’s an 18-year-old album that I’ve actually listened to a lot in the past few months.
The CD’s never gathered much dust since Dando and co created a wave of indie-slacker-pop back around 1992-3. However, the recent ‘playing the album in entirety’ show in Melbourne got me listening to it with newfound intent.
And I was happy. Still am. This is album has never tried to be anything more than what it is – a slightly sloppy collection of folky power-pop built around some neat little riffs, some decent rhythms and some deceptively tight vocals.
Of course, this almost qualifies as an Aussie release, given that many of the strongest songs on the album came from the pen of Tom Morgan (of Smudge fame). His approach gels perfectly with Dando’s, with both favouring the cascading vocal as pop hook.
The albums lacks a big single (my version doesn’t have the Mrs Robinson cover), yet each and every track is memorable. From the baby stroller anthem Rocking Stroll to the infectious Rudderless, the portentious My Drug Buddy to the effusive Alison’s Starting to Happen, it’s a soundtrack to a sunny slacker lifestyle:
As I was typing this review, Australia just kicked their 3rd goal in the Asian Cup semi… I reckon Dando was equally chuffed when he recorded this album. Or he should have been.
File under: Everybody loves Raymond
Given the next Ani DiFranco album is another double, I’m skipping forward and grabbing one of the older and well-worn records in my collection.
I would have heard the Freak Scene single off this album in 1988 some time, and eventually found a vinyl copy of the associated album (this was before I owned a CD player).
I then spent many days immersed in the contrasting waves of screaming guitar and typically lazy/cosy vocals. This was when I really saw what guitar-based indie rock could be.
It has been a pleasure to dive back into this. Freak Scene is as catchy as ever, with J Mascis’ drawled vocals chronicling the slacker ethos beautifully.
The guitar work on this album was and is revelatory. If future humans (or aliens) want to know what could be done with those strange devices (and in particular the associated pedals) this album would be a great insight and showcase.
I saw a quote from the band noting that they were fans of death metal and the mid-80s Paisley Rock scene. That sums the sound up perfectly. The guitars wail and jangle in equal measure. Lou Barlow screams his lungs out on the closer (Don’t), yet at other times the vocals are classic indie-op (reminiscent of Smudge‘s Tom Morgan).
This is classic stuff that I’m in love with again. Relish this video:
File under: I’m buggin’!
Posted in D, On Vinyl
Tagged album, album review, CD review, Dinosaur Jr, J Mascis, Lou Barlow, music, music review, Smudge, Tom Morgan