Album Reviews

The Lemonheads – Varshons

(Cooking Vinyl) UK release date: 15 June 2009

The Lemonheads - Varshons Townes Van Zandt was another of American music’s great outsiders, who had more in common with Allin than perhaps we ever realised. Waiting Around To Die is his signature song and it is to Evan Dando‘s credit that he pulls out the stops on The Lemonheads‘ Varshuns, delivering a fine vocal against a backdrop of fiddle and pounding bass drum.

From here on in the album moves into true eclectic mix tape territory. The ’60s garage rock obscurities The Green Fuz, Yesterlove and Dandelion Seeds are perfectly suited to Dando’s stoned vocal delivery and Haynes’s less is more production style, and provide the perfect antidote to the countryish leanings of the opening tracks.

Unfortunately, every mix tape has its moments when the originator’s musical passions fall out of step with what the intended recipient actually wants to listen to. True to form, here we are treated to a vocoderized Dando and a bored-sounding Kate Moss sleepwalking through a cover of Arling & Cameron‘s Dirty Robot.

Things kick back into life with a terrific cover of New Mexico by the cooler-than-cool FuckEmos, and a stately reading of Leonard Cohen‘s Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye that features breathy backing vocals from Liv Tyler (Cohen would surely approve).

And finally, to round off this highly enjoyable album, Dando and Haynes have a stab at the Linda Perry/Christina Aguilera MTV staple Beautiful. A song to strike fear into the heart of the committed indie fan, admittedly, but Dando manages to find a germ of humanity in the lyrics that the hysterical Aguilera overlooked.

Dando has promised a new Lemonheads album next year. Varshons is an admirable stopgap that proves that there is life in the old dog yet.

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