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It's A Shame About Ray - Flying Out


It's A Shame About Ray


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Some background: The Lemonheads formed in Boston during the mid-1980s and released three albums of fuzzy punk-pop on local label Taang! Records before signing to Atlantic in 1989. Their 1990 major-label debut, Lovey, wasn't a huge return on the investment, but in the two-year interval between that album and Ray, Nirvana and the ensuing alternative boom proved that smaller bands and unlikely signings could have enormous commercial prospects. The Lemonheads both benefited and suffered from this new pop cultural climate: Just as Ray found a more open-minded audience, it was also disregarded by so many kids like me, who were suddenly very serious about music, man, and saw only Dando's model looks, not his songcraft. Never mind that Ray is as much a junkie album as Nevermind, written and partly recorded during a particularly narcotic-heavy trip to Australia. No wonder Dando was a pin-up: He was handsome but damaged, a fixer-upper. If he was the Jordan Catalano before Jared Leto, then the do-they-or-don't-they controversy between him and roommate/bassist/kissing partner/self-professed virgin Juliana Hatfield made them the Ross and Rachel of the "120 Minutes" set.
Now that all of that hubbub has died down and Dando is just another alt-act trying to make a comeback, Ray sounds nearly revelatory in its restlessness, mixing college pop with country flair and relocating Gus Van Sant's Portland atmosphere to New England. The most beguiling aspect of the title track, one of Dando's best compositions, is its impenetrability: It could be about anyone or pertain to almost any bad situation, and that ambiguity suggests some tragedy that can't be named or faced. "The Turnpike Down" descends on a tripping hook that sounds altogether too bubbly for the material, while "Alison's Starting to Happen", inspired by a friend's ecstasy trip, sounds genuinely excited, especially when Dando starts rushing his words towards the end. "Kitchen", with its handclaps and effervescent jangle, rubs elbows with the tense chords and casually manic repetitions of "Rudderless", where the acoustic guitar sounds spikier than the electric. And the bow on the package is the not-necessarily-ironic cover of "Frank Mills", a song from the musical Hair that Dando sings with a charmingly goofy bliss. Pitchfork 8.1

Artist: The Lemonheads
Title:It's A Shame About Ray
Label: Plain Recordings
Cat #: Plain38
Year: 1992
Format: 180 Gram Vinyl LP


Rockin Stroll
It's a Shame About Ray
My Drug Buddy
Turnpike Down
Bit Part
Alison's Starting to Happen
Hannah & Gabi
Ceiling Fan in My Spoon
Frank Mills
Mrs. Robinson


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