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November 2nd, 2011 MATTHEW SINGER | Music Stories
 

Primer: The Lemonheads

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Formed: 1986 in Boston.

Sounds like: Classic early-’90s jangle-pop, with just enough country-rock touches to satisfy singer Evan Dando’s Gram Parsons obsession. 

For fans of: The Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, early Goo Goo Dolls. 

Latest release: Bizarrely conceived 2009 covers album Varshons.

Why you care: In an alternate-reality version of the 1990s, the Lemonheads was one of the biggest bands of the decade. That’s not to say the group was overlooked in this dimension; the Lemonheads appeared to be heading toward mega-success before, well, they weren’t anymore. Appropriately enough for a Replacements acolyte, leader and lone consistent member Evan Dando pretty much sabotaged his own career. A songwriter with angsty-dude good looks and an affinity for simple/sweet hooks, he had the makeup of a Gen-X superstar. It’s a Shame About Ray, the 1992 album that marked the Heads’ transformation from hard-core wannabes to serious power-pop tunesmiths, brought Dando to the cusp of chart-busting fame. Follow-up Come on Feel the Lemonheads should’ve sealed it, but while the record contained the endearingly plain-spoken single “Into Your Arms,” it also featured a ton of filler that felt purposely directionless, including a baffling duet with Rick James. It didn’t sell. Derailed by Dando’s drug addiction, the band just sort of fizzled out three years later. Maybe that’s how it was always supposed to happen, though: If the Lemonheads’ astonishingly solid self-titled 2006 resurrection is any indication, Dando is much more comfortable being an also-ran than the next big thing.


SEE IT: The Lemonheads play Mississippi Studios on Thursday, Nov. 3, with the Shining Twins. 9 pm. $20. 21+.

 
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