Weekend's best bet: The Lemonheads at the Ottobar

March 08, 2012|By Wesley Case, The Baltimore Sun

Boston's most famous '90s alt-rock band, The Lemonheads, will perform its 1992 breakthrough album, "It's a Shame About Ray" in its entirety at the Ottobar on Saturday. There's been a revolving door of members over the years, but frontman Evan Dando remains at the helms.

The Lemonheads are an interesting case of stars aligning, for better or worse: "Ray" was released the same year as Nirvana's"Nevermind," right as radio and major labels were embracing any Serious songwriters with long hair and a "Who cares?" attitude. Dando became a grunge idol of sorts, thanks to good looks and the fact his band released its best album at the right time. In 1993, Dando made People's 50 Most Beautiful People list, which explains a lot.

But really, none of that matters. "Ray" is available on Spotify, and it's a great listen. I missed the Lemonheads in their prime, so "Ray" is very new to me. There are obvious influences on it — the Replacements come to mind first — but the Lemonheads weren't afraid of crossing over, or at least writing songs that had the potential to. "My Drug Buddy" offers insight into Dando and Co.'s altered states while recording in Australia. "Bit Part's" male and female vocals add conflict to the self-deprecating but upbeat tune. It's mostly straight-forward, well-written college rock, something we don't get a lot of these days.

Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available here.

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