Release Date: Nov 29, 2011
Record label: Hall Of Records
Hotel Sessions is a collection of 14 scruffy takes Evan Dando recorded for a friend on a Walkman one night as the songs for 1993's Come on Feel the Lemonheads were taking shape. It's hardly a treasure trove of unreleased material – all but two of the songs appear in more polished form on the finished album – but the tape hiss, traffic noise and acoustic arrangements make it an invitingly slackerish alternative. And some of these songs fare better in lo-fi form: wistful megahit "Into Your Arms" aches all the more authentically as a vulnerable-sounding, acoustic sketch.
There's something wistfully apt about the Lemonheads' relative obscurity. Despite a long career based on short songs, Evan Dando is neither a promising young artist anymore nor a reliably established alt act, but he still keeps chugging, unwilling to follow Buffalo Tom or Belly into that dark night. And yet, he hasn't reinvented himself as a bold businesswoman like old friend/muse Julianna Hatfield, nor has he graduated to éminence grise like fellow Bostonian J Mascis.
The Lemonheads weren’t Pavement. Hell, they were hardly even Sebadoh. Their legacy rests in a few killer cuts and Evan Dando’s surfer-boy, teen-mag good looks – in terms of retrospective cherishment they’re little more than a charming honorable mention. Its hard thinking Hotel Sessions would ever see the light of day without the current ‘90s recrudescence/flogging we’re currently in the midst of.
As the wave of early Nineties indie nostalgia crashes against the land once more, there was always likely to be a little driftwood deposited somewhere along the foamy shore. While recently this has taken a pleasing gnarled form in the terms of in-depth voluminous reissues, with crisper sound and bonus videos, sometimes what makes it back to the consumer is far from what most people would consider the finished product. The Lemonheads' Hotel Sessions is such a flotsam-like find, and it's release has left me quite baffled.
Evan Dando's reconstituted Lemonheads line-up haven't sparked his creative juices. Instead of new material, this latest release offers a collection of demos from the height of the band's early '90s popularity. Recorded to four-track while on tour in Australia, Hotel Sessions is billed as the Lemonheads at their most stripped down. These 14 tracks find Dando, then still riding the first wave of alt-rock fame, laying down demoes for what would become Come on Feel… for the band's manager.
Evan Dando, 90s poster boy and one quarter of the current reincarnation of the Lemonheads, long had a dream: to make an album for $53. Twenty years since the band shot to fame with their breakthrough album, It's A Shame About Ray, Dando has fulfilled his wish. The aptly titled Hotel Sessions cost exactly $53 to make when it was recorded in a hotel in Bondi, Australia, for the Lemonheads' then agent, Stephen Pavlovic, at the tail end of 1992 or start of 1993 (by his own admission, Dando can't remember which).