Archive for the ‘Lemonheads’ Category

[ATTENDED: December 14, 2022] Lemonheads

Back in 2018, I saw Evan Dando play a solo set in Jersey City.  It was him with an acoustic guitar and he played over forty songs.

It was a shambolic affair, but fun.  I didn’t really feel compelled to see him again, but I thought it would be fun to see him with a band.  And when he announced this 30th Anniversary of It’s a Shame About Ray, my favorite album of theirs, I grabbed a ticket.

Juliana Hatfield finished and didn’t really need to clear her gear (as we’ll see).  And yet for some reason, it took Evan and the other two guys almost 45 minutes to come out on stage.  

This wasn’t an auspicious sign.  I was actually 40% surprised the show hadn’t been cancelled outright.  But it sounds like Evan Dando has gotten his shit (somewhat) together, so maybe this is a new lease on life for him.  

Eventually the band came out on stage.  Bassist Farley Glavin and drummer Lee Falco came out first.  Then Evan came out on stage, grabbed an acoustic guitar and they launched right into “Into Your Arms.”  This is one of my favorite songs of the 90s–so sweet and delightful.  I had literally no idea that it was a cover until I was reading someone else’s review of this tour (it was written by Australian duo Love Positions (Robyn St. Clare (who wrote the song) and Nic Dalton).  It sounded like he hadn’t really warmed up yet and this was his way of easing into the show.  He didn’t hit any of the higher notes.  But he still wounded quite good. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 14, 2022] Juliana Hatfield

I was a big fan of Juliana Hatfield back in the 90s.  I thought she was the bomb.  And I was really excited to see her play live when she opened for the B-52s at Boston College back in 1993.  I actually hated the B-52s (they were so overplayed at my college in 1991 that I never wanted to hear “Love Shack” again in my life) so I left before they came on.

And then, some time around 2000 I lost track of her.  I was always happy to hear she was putting out new music, but I didn’t give it much of a listen.  However, her 2018 album that is all covers of Olivia Newton John songs is pretty sweet.

She had toured Philly back in 2015 and I considered going because it was the Juliana Hatfield Three playing again (I should have gone!).  She also played in 2019, but I wasn’t quite as sure about that one for some reason.  But here she was opening for The Lemonheads!

A few minutes after On Being an Angel cleared their stuff, Juliana came out.  It was just her and her guitar plugged into a tiny amp.  The volume was perfect  She sounded great as she started singing a song I knew immediately.. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 14, 2022] On Being an Angel

On Being an Angel are a four-piece from Austin.  Given that they were opening for Lemonheads and Juliana Hatfield, I was expecting a sound that fit in with them.

They were actually a bit heavier and a bit more fuzzy than I would have expected.  And I loved their sound instantly. 

And then singer Paige stepped up to the mic and…we couldn’t hear her at all.  Was it Union Transfer’s fault?  That seemed unlikely.  We were very close to the stage and that can certainly impact how you hear a band, but it seemed like the lead guitar (from Nick) was just cranked up super loud and drowned out everything else.

The guy next to me even typed out on his phone (fix the vocal levels) but no one reacted to that.

Then I saw this comment in a 2019 review of them in Austin: “[On Being an Angel] tore apart the crowd’s broken chatter with a roaring wall of sound. Rumbling electric fuzz nearly drowned out Paige Applin’s faint vocals as the slowcore quartet played.”  The rest of the band sounded great–a big grungy sound that I was really excited to hear on record, too.

But when I listened to the (first) record, the sound was really different–far more mellow, far less noise.  The opener, “Eyes Shut” has a fantastic 90s alt rock sound with a catchy lead guitar riff.  But on record, it’s a quiet folk song with no riff at all.

The newer record (on being a tape vol. 2) has a much heavier sound.–much more satisfying.  Paige’s vocals are also forward in the mix.  (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: November 24, 2021] The Lemonheads / Leah Hennessey [postponed to December 16, 2022]

I saw Evan Dando play a bunch of Lemondheads songs solo at a tiny venue in Jersey City.  He seemed kind of wasted, but he sounded great and I had a wonderful time.

I was genuinely interested in checking out this show since I missed him in Philly a few months earlier, but the show was postponed.  Whether because of COVID or he mercurial whims of Dando, I’m not sure.  Maybe I’ll see him this winter.

Especially since they’re playing It’s a Shame About Ray–I know this poster is for the UK, but so far the NJ show is a one off.

Leah Hennessey is a musician/actress/playwright/lead singer.  She fronts the band Hennessey a retro synth band created by NY artists.  Not sure what she’d sound like as a solo artist.

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[DID NOT ATTEND: November 24, 2021] The Lemonheads / Hey Rocco / Soft Kill / Larlene

I saw Evan Dando play a bunch of Lemondheads songs solo at a tiny venue in Jersey City.  He seemed kind of wasted, but he sounded great and I had a wonderful time.

I was genuinely interested in checking out this show (in which he had a full band), but it was scheduled for the same night as Jinjer who I really wanted to see live.

I see that he and the band played 35 songs that night.  It must have been a blast.

I had not heard of Soft Kill or Hey Rocco.

Soft Kill is a post-punk band from Portland who on their Facebook pages call themselves “sad rock”, a new musical subgenre.  That does not make me want to see them, that’s for sure.

Hey Rocco is a grunge band that formed in 2009.  I’m curious what that sounds like.

Markit Aneight was there to record the bands

Larlene apparently played instead of Soft Kill and here’s there full show

Hey Rocco


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[ATTENDED: October 29, 2021] Angel Du$t

Angel Du$t is considered a supergroup (according to Wikipedia).  At the time, I hadn’t heard of either of the bands that the members came from (Turnstile and Trapped Under Ice).  Since then, Turnstile has absolutely blown up all over the place.

I’ve been wanting to see Turnstile, but I guess I’ve already seen 3/5 of them [Daniel Fang — drums ; Brendan Yates – rhythm guitar ; Pat McCrory – lead guitar].  The two guys from Trapped Under Ice were Justice Tripp – lead vocals and Jeff Caffey bass.

I didn’t know anything about the band and even the write about up them said that they defied expectations of their other bands. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SOCCER MOMMY-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #1 (March 21, 2020).

Since the quarantine began, many many many musicians have been playing shows at home.  There are so many online home recordings that it is literally impossible to keep up with them.  I have watched a few, but not many.  I’m not sure how many of the online shows are going to be available for future watching, but at least these are saved for posterity.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It’s the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

On Monday March 30, Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, was to perform a long awaited Tiny Desk concert at my desk. Now the world has changed, and with the coronavirus keeping us at a distance, we’re taking a break from filming Tiny Desks at the office for a while.

Sophie wanted to share her music and her thoughts with you. So we’re kicking off our Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts series with Soccer Mommy from her home in Nashville.

Soccer Mommy was supposed to play a show in Philly on March 31. I had a choice between this show and a show from Vagabon.  I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to go to.  Well, now I get this home concert instead.

This Home Concert (as most will be) is Sophie and her acoustic guitar.  Since I don’t really know (most of) the originals, I can’t compare them.

All three songs have catchy melodies.  It’s cool watching her hands up close to see he playing modifications to the chords in “Bloodstream” so it’s not as simple a melody as it seems.

Her voice is soft and high (although a little hard to hear in this mix).

“Circle the Drain” has been getting some airplay and I rather like it.  It reminds me of a Lemonheads song in style.  This acoustic version is nice, but I prefer the studio version (that extra guitar line is a nice touch).  She says it’s about being depressed and staying inside all day.  “I’m sure some of you can relate to that right now.”

Before the final song, “Royal Screw Up” she asks if anyone can guess what tuning she is going from and into.  My guess is that she is going into standard E tuning, although I’m not sure from what.

Most of her melodies remind me of the singers I liked in the 90s, and I think with a slightly better production I would have really enjoyed this set.  I might have to check out her album a little more closely.

[READ: April 1, 2020] The Customer is Always Wrong

I enjoyed, Mimi Pond’s first memoir(ish) book, Over Easy, but I grew tired of it by the end.  It was an look at late 1970s San Francisco and all of the low-level drug dealers and users who worked and ate at the restaurant where Madge was a waitress.

And yet, I came away from it with enough good vibes that I was interested in reading this second volume.  And this second volume had the heart and soul that I felt the first one lacked.

The story begins with some of Mimi’s past boyfriends (good boys whom her mother loved).  Then it moved on to bad boys who treated her like crap.  Finally, she meets Bryan, a nurse who treats her kindly–and the sex is amazing.

But the shine starts to wear off and a turd is slowly revealed–the way he breaks up and gets back together (he loves the drama), the way he watches the World Series at her house even though she doesn’t care about baseball (or own a TV–he brought his own).  Oh, and the way she finds out later that he lied about nearly everything.

The drug dealer characters from the first book are still there of course.  The most prominent one is Camille, a “straight looking” and pretty young woman who has hooked up with Neville, a real dirtbag (but one who tells great stories).  She has big dreams–they will sell a ton of coke, make a ton of money and go to Paris.  Of course that never happens.

And then there’s Lazlo.  Lazlo is the real main character of the story.  Even though it is Madge’s story, it all more or less revolves around Lazlo.  Lazlo runs the diner where Madge works and he is always around–wearing his cool hat, telling great stories (he is a poet).  It’s hard to remember that he is married.  Hard for him to remember too, apparently. (more…)

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This is a Lemonheads covers album.  The amazing thing about this covers album is that mot of the originals are quite unknown (heck I didn’t even recognize some of the artists).  But he manages to put a good Lemonheads spin on most of them (the  later country/folk Lemonheads style) and it makes for an enjoyable listen.  ALthough truth be told, most of the songs aren’t as catchy as a good Lemonheads song.

“I Just Cant Take it Anymore” and “Fragile” are folky/country songs, not too far out of line with the Lemonheads sound.  “Living with Linda” is a strange choice on the disc.  It’s a cover of a song by G.G, Allen, a performer who I know a lot about (he’s infamous) but who I have never heard.  I assume that the original is a brutal punk song (it’s about killing an ex girlfriend, after all) but Dando turns it into something of a Johnny Cash type song (using his best deep voice).

“Waiting Around to Die” is a dark song, another good country ballad.  “Green Fuz” has a cool backwards guitar solo.  “Yesterlove” is a long, slow builder of a song that, intriguingly seems to move seamlessly from one section to another.  I really like it.  “Dandelion Seeds” is a trippy weird song  that works quite well in the Lemonheads universe.

“Dirty Robot” is the really big surprise on the disc. After all of the folky country music, this song is a totally electronic song (and a very simple one at that). In addition to the electronic surprise is the fact that the lead vocals are supplied by Kate Moss (Dando has a robot-processed spoken verse).

The only song I knew here was the cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.”  This is a fine but very quiet version which features a duet by Liv Tyler (!?).  (It would be impossible to screw up this song).  The final song is probably my favorite.  It’s a cover of Christina Aguilara’s “Beautiful.”  I’ve always liked the song (it’s quite touching) but I must say I like Dando’s version better.  It’s very understated (and he changes the words to “I am Beautiful” instead of “You are beautiful”–interesting change or egotism?).

So this is a strange covers album, quite atypical for the world of covers.  It’s not often that a covers record introduces yo to a whole bunch of new material.

[READ: December 30, 2011] “Succeeding in Business Through Marketing Fads”

I am running dangerously close to not having anything to post about in 2012.  Not for the entire year, but on a daily basis.  I have effectively caught up to all of the posts that I had planned to write.  I have read all of the New Yorker and Harper’s stories that I had lying around and because of my new job it’s taking me considerably longer to read books.

I was seriously planning on having this post be about how I wouldn’t be able to have any more daily posts in 2012.

Enter Max Barry.

I’ve read all three of Barry’s previous books (indeed I read his first book years and years ago and didn’t even tie it into his other ones until his bio did it for me).  I’ve enjoyed them all.  He has a new book out that I am currently enjoying called Machine Man.  Anyhow, reading this book made me want to see about his short stories and the like.  Well, his website has a few short pieces on it.  Enough to get me through the next week anyhow.

For you, dear reader, that means you’ll get a whole week’s worth of Max Barry before you can get to whatever else I manage to finish next year. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MEGAFAUN-“Get Right” (2011).

I’ve never heard of Megafaun before, but this song is just wonderful.  It’s an 8 minute blast of psychedelia that covers and sometimes obscures a beautiful poppy song.  I hear overtones of Dinosaur Jr (but more for J. Mascis’ seemingly lazy style than for his crazy guitar riffing) and a bit of the Lemonheads in the folky pop feel.  Throw in a dose of My Bloody Valentine for the waves of sound and you get a perfectly lovely track.

The opening is a fairly simple, straightforward melody.  And his voice is so familiar-sounding.  There’s some cool squeaky/feedbacky guitars layered over the top of a hazy distorted sound.  By about four minutes, the song turns into an instrumental, with a guitar solo that comes in an out of the hazy chords.

This is a great song, and although the NPR write-up says this is the longest track, I imagine the rest must be equally as exciting.  Preview it on NPR.

[READ: September 1, 2011] “Asleep in the Lord”

This is a story about Mitchell, a formerly unhelpful person who never changed a diaper or helped a sick friend.  He has decided to change that, so he goes to Calcutta with the intention of joining Mother Teresa’s mission (and just how many stories involve Mother Teresa these days?—she even makes an appearance in the piece!).  He’s reluctant to do anything majorly gross, but he’s happy to hand out medicines (for what good they do).

After a few days, Mitchell is still somewhat surprised by his decision to go to Calcutta at all.  Then he meets Mike and Herb.  Herb is following the Bhagwan, but Mike is less grounded in who he is following here in India .  He came here because the economy tanked back home and he wanted somewhere to hide out for a few years.   As we learn more about Mitchell, we see that his intentions are understandably confused.  For really, like Mike, he also came to India to wait out the recession.   However, unlike Mike, he honestly did come to seek some kind of spiritual guidance.  Mike seems to be here for the easy sex–he has a picture of a young woman from Thailand who wanted “to marry him.”   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: The LEMONHEADS-The Lemonheads (2006).

I was a big fan of The Lemonheads back when they were riding the wave of indie pop fame back in the 1990s. Evan Dando was a poster boy of hunkiness, and he was paired with alt-pop-queen Juliana Hatfield. (Immortalized in the Barenaked Ladies song “Jane” in the line “no Juliana next to my Evan.”) I even lived near them in beautiful Allston, MA (although I never saw them). Sarah and I even used “Into My Arms” as the entrance song at our wedding reception.

Having a favorite band disband when they are doing pretty well is always a mixed blessing; obviously you don’t want them to break up, but you also don’t want to see them descend into badness.

But even weirder is what appears to be the inevitable reunion. So many 90s bands are reuniting for better or worse: Dinosaur Jr, Meat Puppets (although they never really went away), The PIxies (with no album…yet) and even the grandfathers: The Police. I’m not big into the “reunion” thing, as it mostly seems to be just a cash in, and I have yet to get the Dinosaur Jr. record–even though I loved them back then, and I hear it’s very good (and I still may get it)–but I had to go for the Lemonheads.

And I’m really glad I did. I regret not getting the solo Evan Dando records that came out (and are now out of print) because it’s clear that he hasn’t lost a thing. The songs on this record (even though they are not all written by Dando) sound like classic Lemonheads. The main difference is that the guitars are a bit louder, having something of a grunge feel that the Lemonheads never had even during the height of grunge (even though they were punkier on their early releases). The melodies and vocals feel like the Lemonheads, but something about it says “it’s been a while and we’ve learned some new tricks”

Right from the start though, it’s like welcoming back an old friend. Dando’s voice sounds great. The supremely catchy verse/chorus structure falls right into place, and the lyrics go from funny to vulgar and back. There’s not a bad song on the collection. They’re mostly short (about 3 minutes) and range from fun rollickers like “Black Gown” and “Poughkeepsie” to darkly countryish “Baby’s Home.” There’s even a few solos by head Dinosaur Jr man J Masics (which of course makes me want to get the new Dino Jr record). (more…)

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