2011 has been a year of highly glossy pop and R&B and a spectacular selection of electronic artists breaking through, with polished and refined music that saunter from cold, icy minimalism to crisp, clean sampling insanity. But how about something completely different to start 2012? Evan Dando, of The Lemonheads, has been putting the finishing touches to an early 90s recordings, aptly titled Hotel Sessions, due to the Australian residence he was staying in after their first Japanese tour had finished.
Consisting of music that made it onto their sixth record, Come On Feel The Lemonheads, and various unfinished demos, the stripped pack, laid bare collection offers a uniquely open artistic release, showcasing the bare bones, talented as they may be, before any studio or technology gets their hands on the darn things. Hailed by Mr Dando himself as the $53 album (due to that being the cost of a walkman and a tape…), the 14 tracks offer a deal more insight, heart and depth than the biggest, loudest pop smashes of the past few years.
‘Paid To Smile’ and ‘’I’ll Do It Anyway’ are wonderfully preserved sonic nuggets, with the hiss and crackle of the tape standing as an audible monument to the pure pop intelligence whirring away within the band during this time period. Similarly, in the amble of ‘Down About You’ and the passing motorbike grunting at the end of ‘Being Around’, an aura of intimacy and a surprisingly personal ambience crackle to life. Everything isn’t up to complete scratch, with a couple of unreleased tracks like ‘Superhero’ rolling towards bland and wishy-washy territory, but these act as temporary blips in the pleasant proceedings
There’s a nostalgic moment on ‘You Can Take It With You (Part 2)’, halfway through the record, where Dando states he is gonna ‘risk one more short one on this side’, recalling a lost point in musical recording history. And the album, generally, delivers that same nostalgic sense, especially with somewhat simple lyrics, tunes and vocals that recall a lost adolescence, highlighting this talented young musician at a point in time where The Lemonheads were in the midst of their most commercial and critically successful period (just before Dando’s drug issues lead to their sad decline). It’s an easy listening sort of brilliance, not quite shimmering with wonder but trundling along with a soft, comforting pace, granting a welcome insight behind the so-called-scenes of such a shining artist.