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Review of Lemonheads live at Roxy, Hollywood CA
18th November 1996

by Phil Gallo from Variety 20th November 1996


Add "Car Button Cloth" to Evan Dando's short list of nearly perfect pop discs. Only 1992's "It's a Shame About Ray" exhibits with similar precision, Dando's impeccable songwriting skills and his way with country lick up against a dense punk backdrop.

In a hit-and-run 50-minute main set, Dando and the current edition of ever-changing Lemonheads delivered one catchy tune after another, a veritable overdose of '60s-inspired pop hooks. The material a half-dozen tunes from the new disc made it into the set is meaty enough for this hearty band to sink its teeth into, though former Dinosaur Jr. drummer Patrick Murphy needs to learn a thing or two about nuance.

Potential hit songs "It's All True" and "If I Could Talk I'd Tell You" showered the crowd with feel-good melodies; a slowed down "It's a Shame About Ray" and a revved up version of the traditional bluegrass tune "Knoxville Girl" supplied much-needed dynamics. Grunge-metal instrumental "Secular Rockulidge," which marked the only time Dando sprang out of his slumped and distant stage pose, seemingly came from out of left field yet added to the distance Dando has put between himself and the pretentious pretty boy image of the early '90s.

Otherwise, the Lemonheads deliver a caldron of a good thing if Tom Hanks were to make a follow up to "That Thing You Do," the 'Heads could be the Wonders 30 years hence. As always, Dando didn't speak between songs, and his much-chronicled tale of heroin addiction remains buried in song, especially the "leaves falling" metaphors of "Hospital" and Tom Morgan's divine tale of disillusionment and self-realization, "The Outdoor Type." Dando saved the softer moments for a solo encore segseg.

Beastie Boy DJ Money Mark opened with a chaotic and disorganized set modeled after an enterprising youth in his bedroom with drums, guitar, keyboard, harmonica and a homemade sound enhancer. By shouting out the names of dead jazz pioneers he gave some context to his more experimental works. And if his attempt to play the trumpet by letting air out of a balloon had been successful, his execution would have matched the conceptualization.

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