The Lemonheads | It's A Shame About Ray

 
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Family Average: 6/7

Papa Maldjian hit us with this 90’s throwback album, and everyone was feeling the nostalgia. This CD used to be in heavy rotation around the Maldjian household, but was probably the first time in years that some of us had a listen.

Listen along on Spotify and hear what we had to say:

 
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Glad to revisit this early 90's album, as it still stands up as good today as it was then. They are just enough punk, pop and grunge to keep it interesting.  

The title track and "My Drug Buddy", while a bit dark, were actually some of my favorites. I also loved the punk energy in "Bit Part" & "Rockin Stroll". As much as I love the "Mrs. Robinson" cover and it was a big hit for them, there are so many great songs here that don't get enough exposure.

Happy I got to enjoy this album once again. I give it a

6/7

 
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Oh wow I actually remember popping this sucker into my parent’s walkman and rocking out in grade school. That being said, I needed to hear a little refresher to see what made me so drawn to it as a wee one.

Hearing it once again was kind of neat; it showed me where my musical preference formed out of. I am sure you have heard me say this a thousand darn times but I have big love for 90’s indie rock, which is actually a lot more diverse of a genre than it sounds. These guys fall right in line on the genre’s spectrum. What’s more, is the album reflects an integral point of the 90s, during which bands were producing music that was raw and emotional yet still approachable by general audiences. Nothing is worse than when you hear a band without edge. You hear a lot of music that came after this trying replicate this sound and instead kinda suffered from just that. I guess lightning rarely strikes twice.

I am afraid I am rambling a lot so let me reign it in and talk a little more about the actual album. It’s a Shame About Ray was the bands fourth studio album. At around this time they had pulled in 90’s indie rock goddess Juliana Hatfield to play guitar and do some vocals on the album (go check her out if you like this album). The songs are bitter, and driving. Guitar swells, drums pound a steady simple beat for the majority of the album. A little variety is sprinkled throughout with songs like “My Drug Buddy” and “Frank Mills” that sport a bit of a stripped down sound.

To conclude, rip your jeans grab a beer, and sit in the park, this is a good album.

6/7

 

I forgot about the Lemonheads and am so, so glad to have this back on my playlist rotation. What a little gem of an album, mixing that glorious, self-indulgent ‘90s angst and grunge-pop. This album is bleak, but makes you smile. They live up to their name with that bitter, bitter sweetness. Melancholic and melodic, it spews seductive sounds of Cobain-influenced grunge with a bit more levity. Some may call it whiney, but it feels like a breath of fresh air to hear this kind of lyrical honesty and fragility. Also, hello Ms. Hatfield and your beautiful harmonies. I wish there were more of you in the world. These songs are short, but poignant, with hooks that feel almost effortless. It threw me straight into the My So-Called Life universe, off brooding in a corner with Jordan Catalano. The ‘90s keep getting mined for content lately, and everyone is taking a deep dive into nostalgia. I similarly feel like I may be viewing this album through rose-colored glasses, but I don’t care! It feels romantic and sentimental, and makes my heart warm. Give me a flannel and switch on MTV Unplugged—I’m happy.

5/7

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This album definitely feels nice, it’s got that good 90’s rock sound that I’ve come to know and love. It almost sounds a bit like someone mixed O.A.R. and the Gin Blossoms in a 90’s filter. Each song had its own unique sound, but they had a unifying style to them, they complimented each other in a way that they could flow together.

The lack of post-production sound editing was a nice change of pace from what I’ve been listening to. No artistic distortions, just straight up vocals and instruments. Though I’ll admit the beginning songs do sound a bit muddled because of this. If the levels had been messed with a bit they might have had a more distinct sound. But even with that to consider they were enjoyable to listen to. For me “Alison’s Starting to Happen” was, true to name, where the album really started going places. The beat was catchy and I found myself bopping my head side to side more than once. “Kitchen” even got me dancing a bit (fittingly in my kitchen.) I’m always more drawn to the high energy tracks like those, but the slower ones did have their merits, like “It’s a Shame About Ray” and “Frank Mills”. The lyrics in those songs were also noteworthy for their quirkiness. Most of the album’s lyrics were like that though, which I can appreciate.

The album played to a lot of my favorite musical attributes so I really enjoyed listening to it.

6/7

 
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Here we have it, the Lemonheads It's a Shame about Ray. I chose this album to throw back to because it’s a great representation of 90's rock. This album of theirs specifically, you really feel that cross between Punk and college Rock.

This band from Boston has an East Coast edge to them. Somehow, the cold weather translates into hard driving rock and roll. Some of the highlights are the title track which beckons the question just who is Ray and what was his fate. “Confetti” is a fun little ditty while “Turnpike” is a good driving song. “Alison's starting to happen” is reminiscent of the Ramones at their best. Then there’s the remix of “Mrs. Robinson”, with a hard-driving bass line.

I like this composition very much I give it a

6/7

 
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The entire sound of this is so authentically 90’s that I feel attacked by nostalgia. His voice and what he does with it, the guitar, the arrangement all of it is just provoking pieces of memories of what it was like to exist during the 90’s.

Fittingly we are currently experiencing a full resurgence of the 90’s aesthetic in today’s time. As a random observance: I detected an ever-so-subtle hint of a country twang in his voice, for two short separate moments. I was swaying the whole time just about.

Ooh I was getting a bit bored by the sameness but then came the harmonies. And then “Kitchen” with the bongos and all those nice sounds, I really liked that one.  We’re on a roll now with “Ceiling Fan in My Spoon.” I liked the music itself genuinely but as I typed out the title it hit me that he is describing a very specific subtle image, successfully, I appreciate it much. Wow and then “Frank Mills,” beautiful, absolutely.

Okay, I started off satisfied by this album and then it got a bit too monotonous, but right as I was thinking that, it changed and grew in all the right ways. Overall, I was perfectly content to spend my afternoon with this album.

4.5/7

 
 
Sean Maldjian