The Lemon Twigs - Do Hollywood

by Larry Schiffman Rating:4 Release Date:2016-10-14

Ambitious but Pretentious

Take two teenage brothers from a Musical Family, who have been described as “a modern-day band combining the melodic, harmony-rich soft rock of Wings and Supertramp, the underground cool of Big Star and the Ramones, (The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and BadFinger come more readily to my mind) and the theatricality of Broadway musicals”. What could go wrong?

You need go no further then the website created for “The Lemon Twigs” to form an opinion of the persona they are trying to present. You will be greeted by a video performance of “These Words” from their debut album “Do Hollywood”. If you can get past the visuals, past the imagery - the boys dressed in French Revolutionary foppery, you get to hear the song. I suppose the video is intended as some sort of statement of their theatricality. The song is meant as one of many “Beatlesque Tributes” on the album, this one replete with a “Lady Madonna” piano rip-off. Paul and Ringo must be cringing. The Twigs don't have the pipes to emulate the harmonies of the Beatles or the Beach Boys, or for that matter any of the groups they emulate.. Their high reedy tenor voices, especially on other cuts where they fall into falsetto, are mediocre at best, irritating at worst.

“A Great Snake” starts off promisingly; but dissolves via a coda that is probably causing George Martin to roll in his grave. Many of the arrangements grapple with the Twigs apparent desire to fulfill, simultaneously, the genres of music in which they believe they are competent

The group is theatrical all right, but they are closer to a Carnival than to Broadway. I will leave it to you to conjure up memories of all the rock groups that successfully managed to incorporate theatrics and/or honor “stage music”. I will inject a plug for early “Kinks” where their affection for early English music theater is sincere, honest, simple, and a genuine reflection of an era they obviously loved. The Lemon Twigs seem to be showing off rather than honoring their musical influences.

My mother always told me to find something positive to say. So here comes my sincere effort to be kind to the Lemon Twigs. They produce pleasant, perhaps not memorable but listenable, pop music. Unfortunately the Twigs don't seem to understand that their songs don't lend themselves to complications such as moving from major to minor keys or to the introduction of anachronistic endings to their hooks. The musicianship is Ok but is so overproduced, with horns, strings, some fairly exotic instruments, and studio effects, that the inherent sugariness of their music turns sour. Oh, I'm sorry I really meant to follow my promise at the start of this paragraph to be positive and supportive. Let me start over and say that this 17 and 19 year old team of brothers show promise and talent. I would prefer to think that they have been given bad advice in how to showcase it. It is easier to believe that they are part of a music industry that shamelessly exploits its artists and thinks that the public wants junk music to complement all the junk food it consumes. I suggest the Twigs go back to the drawing board and think long and hard about who they are and what their art is all about.

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