I don't smoke, do drugs, or drink to excess. I have two kids and a mortgage, and my hair is going gray along the edges. These days, the only seriously guilty pleasures I have anymore are junk food and listening to The Lemonheads' It's a Shame About Ray. I’d just graduated from high school when this album was first released, and the album’s lyrics (disaffected, angst-ridden tales of slackers and burnouts) and music (big, loud and completely stupid, yet full of catchy melodies and totally infectious) appealed to me and my group of friends who were, like the protagonists of Evan Dando’s songs, rudderless and full of dread about starting their adult lives. Along with The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., and My Bloody Valentine, The Lemonheads served as a soundtrack for that first summer out of school and on to who knows what. Of course, by the time I’d started college in the fall, Ray was sounding a little bit too whiny and fluffy, and I had moved on to the heavier Industrial and Electronic music genres that would define my oh-so-serious art school days. For years I’d forgotten I’d ever owned the album, having sold it to pay for more art supplies. When I’d read that Rhino reissued the album last year, I decided to give it another shot. I’m not looking to re-live my post-high school years by any means, but listening to It's a Shame About Ray many years on adds a new layer of clarity- Were we really this self-absorbed and obnoxious? Wow, these hooks are pretty great. I’ve added a few of the best tracks to iTunes where they’ll shuffle up every now and then- a pleasant reminder of an older, stupider time.
It’s a Shame About Ray