Friday, January 8, 2016

Hippies vs. Punks: The Lemonheads' Hate Your Friends (1987)

The best thing about life lately is sleep. This January has been colder than last year's. The radiator doesn't heat up until well after five in the morning. So the result is I have been staying in bed much later than I usually do.

Recently I was gifted a flat screen television. I had basically stopped watching TV, except for football on Sunday when I would scrunch up in front of my 13-inch old-fashioned analog with its digital-converter antenna. To this bonanza of a large flat screen, I added my cheap DVD player which I fished out of the closet. Subsequently, I have been on a binge of library videos.

One treat was season six of Nurse Jackie. The guy who directs most of the episodes is Jesse Peretz, son of longtime owner of The New Republic and prominent neocon Marty Peretz.

Jesse Peretz was a founding member of The Lemonheads, a band that was important to me in my twenties. I chatted with him casually one of the times I saw The Lemonheads perform at CBGBs. He struck me as an exceedingly nice guy.

So I started thinking about The Lemonheads again. I've mentioned them here and there on this page before. And when I get to thinking about The Lemonheads, I think about the time I "heard" about the band for the first time; it was when I saw a write-up of Hate Your Friends (1987) in an issue of Maximum Rock'n'Roll that was bathed in moonlight on the floor of my college lover's bathroom. I was puking my guts out, and I think she was watching me from the doorway; and all I could think about was the brilliance of that title, Hate Your Friends.

The Lemonheads -- Evan Dando, Ben Deily and Jesse Peretz -- formed while attending the elite private Commonwealth School in Boston. They took their name from a candy that is sour on the outside and sweet on the inside. (I think the most representative Lemonheads song is "Mallo Cup," another candy.) Their first album, the aforementioned Hate Your Friends, owes a lot to California Hardcore. If I had to cite another band, I would say Descendents. Short, sweet, abrasive, pining, pop Punk -- really an amazing pastiche that tapped into something we were feeling in 1987, a longing for the purity of early Hardcore.

Ben Deily and Evan Dando split the songwriting and lead vocals on the album. It is an excellent combination. Deily has a classic "ant-man" Hardcore vocal style, while Dando sings more like a crooner (on "Nothing True," he sounds like Morrissey).

The first Lemondheads album I really bonded with is the followup to Hate Your Friends, Creator (1988), which I purchased on its initial release. I think I picked up a colored-vinyl version of Hate Your Friends at a record store on St. Mark's Place in 1989.

In any event, listening to Hate Your Friends repeatedly this week has been a pleasure. The young have their egos and their aspirations, and, walking up the hill yesterday after work something that leaped into my mind -- the ability to drink alcohol and have sex all day long. If that isn't purity I don't know what is.

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