The Lemonheads: Varshons

By: Ron Hart

As fans of Evan Dando's lively spins on such tunes as Suzanne Vega's "Luka", Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," and "Frank Mills" from the musical Hair know, few acts from the 1990s commercial alt-rock boom could deliver a cover tune quite like The Lemonheads. And if you're the type of fan who prefers Dando karaoke to his original material, you need to check out his latest album since resurrecting The Lemonheads name, which is also his label debut for the otherwise metal-centric imprint The End Records.

Varshons is an 11 song set that finds Dando and co. delivering low-key covers of some of his favorite tracks from the deep nether regions of his album collection. For the most part, the album is centered around a pretty, alt-country haze, featuring songs tailor-made for this theme, from Gram Parsons' "I Just Can't Take It Anymore" and Townes Van Zandt's "Waiting Around To Die" to countrified renditions of songs that you never thought twang-worthy, including Wire's Pink Flag rave-up "Fragile" and an absolutely ingenious reading of GG Allin's "Laying Up With Linda" that really removes the crust from GG's tortured, controversial image to reveal the heart of a fairly great songwriter.

However, Varshons also contains some pretty neat surprises outside of the country box as well, most notably a fun run through "Dirty Robot" from Dutch electro-duo Arling and Cameron (featuring guest vocals from supermodel Kate Moss), and a scrappy, stirring reading of "Beautiful", Linda Perry's smash hit for Christina Aguilera that Dando makes entirely his own. Nothing against The Lemonheads' original stuff - I mean, "My Drug Buddy" and "Mallo Cup" are definitely some of the all-time singles of modern rock - but perhaps Dando should follow the lead of his fellow Clinton-era alt-rock superhero-turned-cooler-than-cool cover act Matthew Sweet and prepare a second volume of Varshons.

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[Published on: 11/10/09]

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