The Lemonheads have managed to stay relevant since the late ‘80s. Following a successful self-titled comeback release in 2006, Evan Dando, the creative force behind the group, left to pursue solo work. It was during this period that a lot of back-and-forth music swapping occurred with long-time friend Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers. Dando is quoted as saying; “Making a good mix is an art…,” referring to the mix tapes that Haynes meticulously crafts. This concept is exactly what The Lemonheads set out to build on with their latest release, Varshons,an attempt by Evan Dando and producer, Gibby Haynes, to, not only recreate the “best of” Gibby’s mixes, but present these eclectic tunes in the style of The Lemonheads.
I approach cover albums with skepticism that a new artist can reinvent what the original artist created. Nothing will be reinvented with this release, but the music does listen like The Lemonheads of the early 90’s and the album has an interesting progression. With a fast start, the opening of this album is reminiscent of the 1992 release, It’s A Same About Ray and will conjure memories of the highly successful cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.”
Song selection and placement are well chosen giving the album continuity. Building immediately with, “I Just Can’t Take It Anymore” (Gram Parsons), “Fragile” (Wire) and “Layin’ Up With Linda” (G.G. Allin) the album takes off with The Lemonheads signature rhythm and riffs. “Green Fuz” (Randy Alvey and the Green Fuzz) is a cut that stands out due to its nice instrumental accompaniments to Dando’s vocals. “Dirty Robot” (Arling & Cameron), featuring Kate Moss, is a unique surprise. Her singing is nothing extraordinary, but the layering of the music and vocals offer a peculiar feel to this cut. It has “dance club classic” written all over it. “Beautiful”, originally written for Christina Aguilera, brings an oddly calming close to the album.
Varshons is a well crafted release in terms of music and production, although at 33 minutes and 17 seconds, it is painfully short for today’s picky market. If you like Evan Dando and The Lemonheads then you will probably enjoy this release; however, I would not recommend it as an introduction to the band.
Varshons is out now on The End Records.