Dando's back with an album of covers blended together in a deep, soulful package.

Before the internet revolution launched its attack on the tangible things in life, the mix tape used to mean something more. It was a DIY blend of ideas and feelings captured in one neat little package. They were given to friends as gifts or as some kind of pathetic dowry towards coitus. Without the accessibility of the music programmes we all use today, which are able magically to download at the speed of light, you had to think more carefully and take your time over each song selection. You had to copy one song at a time for Christ’s sake. Then actually wait longer than six seconds for your masterpiece to be ripped and burned before illegibly scrawling down the track names in biro.

So if complacency is the problem in the history of this dying art form maybe we can take some tips from the Lemonheads latest offering ‘Varshons’ released June 23, a twelve track album filled with covers from prolific yet obscure artists which might just sound like the best mix tape you’ve ever received.
Having previously covered such classics as Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Mrs. Robinson’ it took the band over a decade to make the leap towards a full covers LP, and their bravery has paid off. Echo’s of bluegrass and country can be heard throughout, but its frontman Evan Dando’s deep, resonating voice that ties all the tracks together into the enjoyable compilation that it is. Tipping its hat to the likes of Leonard Cohen, Gram Parsons and GG Allin (otherwise known as the delectable punk who liked to smear excrement on his face) ‘Varshons’ feels slower and softer than the Lemonheads of the nineties era but maybe that’s to be expected. While there is less exuberance and bounce to the album than you might expect from the American alternatives, the flair of great musicianship still shines through.

Notably tracks include the cover of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Waiting Around to Die’, a moody, bluegrass ballad that will transport you to a dead end Texan highway complete with a dust storm. The GG Allin cover ‘Layin’ up with Linda’ a tale of murder and death which is completely different from its original but still packs an impressive punch and ‘New Mexico’ by FuckEmos, which features a harmonious mixture of crashing guitars and the sorrowful wail of violins.
There is even the inclusion of guest vocals from Liv Tyler on Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’ and uber supermodel Kate Moss on Arling and Cameron’s ‘Bad Robot’. While the formers vocal expertise lends well to the soft, breathiness of the track, Moss’s voice isn’t quite up to scratch and the track feels like a square peg in the whole roundness of ‘Varshons’. The most surprising track offering is a cover of Linda Perry’s ‘Beautiful’, originally sung by Christina Aguilera and as usual, Dando makes it his own, with a quieter, softer, acoustic version of a song noted for its excessive sentiment.

So if, in this digital age of ours, you can’t find six seconds in your busy schedule to burn a friend a mix tape, it might be an idea to buy them a copy of ‘Varshons’. They’ll probably appreciate it more.