The Lemonheads - Varshons
Varshons is the ninth studio album from The Lemonheads - at least three of which I'd insist on taking to a desert island if regulations allowed. Sadly, if I'm looking for a soundtrack to accompany Evangeline Lily and I lolling around in the surf, just prior to snuggling down beside the campfire, Varshons doesn't make the cut.
Overseen by The Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes, the album has Evan Dando and co. covering (hence the title) a bunch of stuff from G.G. Allin to Christina Aguilera with the occasional guest vocals from Liv Tyler and Kate Moss. The fact that the band did a couple of era-defining covers earlier in their career ('Mrs Robinson', 'Luka') undoubtedly raises expectations but nothing really comes close to the goofy charm those tracks had. The slowed-down version of 'Green Fuz' by Randy Alvey (third greatest record of all time: fact!) at least has an air of interest about it but he also seems to have been covering Gram Parsons tunes since about 1947 and 'I Just Can't Take It Any More' adds little to the canon. Strangely, 'Beautiful' manages to rise above its TV talent show ubiquity to remind you of just how nice and evocative Dando's voice can be with the right material.
There's little doubt that as Dando's life has got less ... chaotic, his music has become more mundane and the whole singer-songwriter stuff has become a little samey over time. At some point someone will sit down and remind us of The Lemonheads' role in softening up the indie-punk scene, paving the way for the battalions of folkies and whatnots ever since, but for the moment this is just a tad tame.