The Lemonheads

The melodies that snag your adolescence are destined to boggle any attempt at objectivity
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REVIEW For a brief time in the early 1990s, Evan Dando was an It boy. He wore great jeans and hid behind his hair — the shaggy pop songs didn't hurt either. His band, the Lemonheads, coasted to success with an easy cover of "Mrs. Robinson," and then Atlantic took a bath on Come On Feel the Lemonheads (Atlantic, 1993), an album that's likely still haunting remainder bins. These are the facts, but the melodies that snag your adolescence are destined to boggle any attempt at objectivity.

I still remember picking It's a Shame About the Ray (Atlantic, 1992) off the rack after spotting it in an older friend's collection — I must have been 11 or 12. Soon, I went the extra mile for a couple of bootleg cassettes I then listened to in ritualistic isolation. In Dando, I heard the sympathetic reticence of a dropout. I beached my shyness on his languid refrains; he was good company. I wouldn't say I wanted to trade places (Ben Lee took up this mantle on "I Wish I Was Him"), but the Lemonheads furnished my imagination with yearning and ennui — sensing those things without knowing them was sublime. I loved the band for coming from Boston; their stoned melodies padded the lonely stretches of Memorial Drive and sandy dunes of Cape Cod where I moved into my feelings. Nearly all Lemonheads songs are letters, and I imagined I too would come to know a "you."

Trying to sort out how memory imprints my continued weakness for these melodies would require a novel rather than a capsule review, but I like to think the Lemonheads albums still hold up because I wouldn't have had it any other way. I don't put them on very often, but I can easily lose a whole afternoon when I do.

THE LEMONHEADS With Kim Vermillion. Wed/10, 8 p.m., $21. Slim's, 333 11th St, SF (415) 255-0333. www.slims-sf.com

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