Report Card: assessing the LEMON TWIGS

Thanks for coming out, today. Hope the traffic wasn’t too bad. Grab a desk.

I think it’s good if we could take a few minutes to talk about Brian and Michael.

As we head deeper into 2017, I’d like to go over the boys’ report card with you. At first, we weren’t sure how focused they’d be on their band, The Lemon Twigs. We thought they’d pursue acting, because, like, they were getting actual parts with famous people. To be honest, we thought that the band thing would be a teenage affectation. We see a lot of bands, real young ones, too, and these days, we’re pretty bored by ’em. I mean, for real, bored. The old bands that we love who have charisma aren’t touring as much up here, and although there is occasionally a crack where the light gets in, the new bands are just, so mehhhhh. But that’s ‘cos we’re old, right? Yeah, totally.

Lemon Twigs, photo Mikala Folb/backstagerider.comAnyway, sorry for the digression. I’ll run you down the report.


We’re most impressed with their progress here, in the talent department. Brian’s what, like, just 20 years old and Michael’s pushing 18? The songs don’t sound like it. Okay, I mean, they did on their first album What They Know but that was two years ago when the boys’ voices were still cracking.

On Do Hollywood, they got help from another retro time traveler Jonathan Rado from Foxygen, and the songs here sound remarkably well-formed. Sure they wear their hodgepodge glammy ’70s American lightrock influences on their size-small men’s vintage sleeves, but with Elton, Beatles, Journey, Bowie and a bunch of Broadway musicals in the mix, it’s kinda interesting.


Okay, maybe there’s still work to be done here but they’re young guys, right? We’ll have to tolerate a bit of croakiness, still. Whey lack in pitch perfection, they make up for in energy. Definitely room for improvement, but the harmonies are getting there. And in the live shows, they’re really applying themselves. As we like to say often and with clichés, we give them an A for effort.


But here’s where they really get an A. You’d think that two Long Island kids of a showman musician-producer would be utterly precocious – no offense Mr. D’Addario – but your nurturing of their musical interest has served them well. Their cover of your 1976 track “Love Stepped Out” is actually sweet, as was their intro of it in the live show. They want to be wiser than their years and it’s sweet.


Urban Outfitters meets Wet Hot American Summer meets the Spiders from Mars. We were amused by Michael’s mullet and lipstick phase, but I suppose we like to encourage experimentation here. Thrift shop will never go out of style, I suppose.


Adorable, live, really. Michael does all the mugging from behind the drums, spinning his sticks and striking poses, until he gets out in front for some guitar-work towards the end of the set. Brian’s really settling nicely into his frontman assignment and seems quite genial, welcoming, and unafraid of the so-many-arms-crossed-hipsters he has to face each night from up on stage. Really pleased with their efforts here, and am looking to seeing them once they’ve got stronger road legs in a year or two.


Nevermind the effusive press, they are creating legit – if still underground – buzz. In a text message conversation to Portland cool cat Ruban Nielson of kool kids Unknown Mortal Orchestra a couple of weeks back, we got talking about what’s new in the ‘hood and I mentioned to him that I was going to see Lemon Twigs. “Lemon Twigs!!!” he texted back, “They’re great! They’re really good from the records. Never caught them live.” Another friend of mine, Max Bloom of London’s Yuck band, did catch them live and tweeted this back in November: “I was at the lemon twigs show last night and it was sounding 100.”

But nothing is quite as awesome for street cred as having local legend Nardwuar, who came to interview the boys earlier in the day, in the club at the moment when they dedicated their new track “Night Song” to him because there’s a line in it that talks about “taking selfies with Nardwuar.” Can you believe it? How great is that?

So, basically, you – but more importantly, they – should be very proud. Their Grade Score’s 3.67. Let’s see where they’re in a year or two …and I hope they keep up the good work. \m/

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