Release Date: Oct 14, 2016
Record label: 4AD
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The Lemon Twigs (aka brothers Brian and Michael D'Addario) are looking poignantly backwards while moving gracefully forward on their debut record: a love letter to the past and a signpost towards the future. Do Hollywood is a unique and kaleidoscopic trip through sound and melody with a profound nostalgia, yet somehow fractionally distilled into something quite startling. .
There’s something magical about that first time you really dive into your parents’ record collection. You may have had an inkling of what they might like, but there’s something much more special about tangible objects. Whether you’re going to pull out a copy of Blondie’s Parallel Lines or a copy of Bruce Willis’ debut album The Return of Bruno, these are the records that clearly meant something in their own particular way.
Anyone curious about how two teenage former child actors from Long Island came up with the idea of sounding just like Todd Rundgren in 1972 is advised to visit YouTube, where Brian and Michael D’Addario’s dad, Ronnie, can be found doing pretty much the same thing a few decades earlier. His sons, it should be said, occupy the ground with rather more dash and flair: Do Hollywood is an album that sounds completely unconstrained by any idea of what’s appropriate. So Harromata goes from a harpsichord-led ballad intro into a berserk fairground carousel break; A Great Snake lasts nearly seven minutes, squiggly synths, guitar solos, lounge music coda and all.
The title of the debut album by Long Island's the Lemon Twigs is a bit of a joke, but also an eye-wink to the fact that they've already done Hollywood. The teenaged brotherly duo of Brian and Michael D'Addario grew up as child actors, appearing in some popular TV programs and feature films, but as children, the two brothers also became musical wunderkinds thanks to having professional musicians as parents. Produced by Foxygen's Jonathan Rado, Do Hollywood is an album that sounds as if were written and recorded by seasoned studio eccentrics, but nope, it's the work of two teenagers — Brian is 19, Michael is 17 — who are just that fantastically knowledgeable and adept.
Brian and Michael D’Addario are still in their teens, but the music they play sounds much older. The two brothers, in addition to Danny Ayala and Megan Zeankowski, make up the Lemon Twigs, an up-and-coming rock band who signed with 4AD in 2015. The Lemon Twigs call themselves a rock ‘n’ roll band, but if “anachronistic” were a genre that could be applied to music, then their debut album, Do Hollywood, would fit the bill.
At 17, the average mortal might be studying to get into university Monday to Friday while trying to get into tacky nightclubs at the weekend, or maybe playing bass in an over-earnest three chord indie band that gets a 15-minute slot in the back room of the local pub. They wouldn’t, as a rule, be releasing a dizzyingly accomplished debut album that effortlessly distils many of the signature sounds of a musical era 25 years before they were born, aided only by their (barely) older sibling. But clearly The Lemon Twigs, comprised of Michael D’Addario and his 19-year-old brother Brian, are no normal teenagers.
The D'Addario brothers, Michael and Brian, must have grown up on a steady diet of oddball singer/songwriters and weird '70s pop, absorbing it like it was candy until they were able to create their own strange and wonderful version that merrily blended the two styles until they became one crazy one. They started their group, the Lemon Twigs, when they were teens and caught the ear of someone at 4AD, who decided the public was ready for two flamboyantly dressed prodigies who thought the idea of Sparks playing Nilsson songs or Todd Rundgren covering the Randy Newman songbook was a good idea. Actually, it turns out to be a great idea and their debut album, Do Hollywood, is the sound of a couple young guys (plus very sympathetic producer Jonathan Rado of Foxygen) letting it all hang out over the course or ten surprising, thrilling, infuriating, instantly memorable songs.
Long Island duo The Lemon Twigs (brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario) have the look of Gram Parsons crossed with Reeves & Mortimer’s Slade. Presumably the teenagers were both still embryos when the demos for this, their debut, came to life, a year or so before 4AD swooped. Do Hollywood is one of those “prodigious” first albums. Just as on stage, the pair divide songwriting and instrumental duties.
Dolled up to the nines in a vintage store’s backroom and loudly proclaiming their outsider status in the modern world, The Lemon Twigs’ forceful declarations that they were born into the wrong era dominated their arrival. The ‘information age’ might not be for all, but on the evidence of ‘Do Hollywood’’s saggy, meandering debut offering, they’d do well to take influence from some of its pace. Every element ripped out of the old-school playbook, ‘Baby, Baby’ is a meandering, dull-as-dishwater attempt at a psych epic; the closing seconds of ‘Haroomba’ are an almost direct rip of yer da’s karaoke go-to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
Most remarkable is that this album is basically just a demo. Recorded in Rado’s front room, you can hear the hiss of the tape and nonsensical chatter as songs come and go. It feels authentic, like The Lemon Twigs aren’t hiding anything. And it leaves you wide-eyed when you wonder what they might come up with next time around.
Despite the woeful spirit that surrounds most of our staff at the moment, which goes without saying, the past month was actually one of the most enjoyable in terms of music releases for Carl and I. But both of us were not going to back out of our duty to report on some albums that are really worth ….