- Lemonheads: Evan Dando (guitar, vocals, percussion, piano, bass, Moog synthesizer, drums); Bill Gibson (bass, guitar, tambourine, background vocals); Patrick Murphy (drums).
- Additional personnel includes: Bryce Goggin (vocals, moog, organ); Kenny Lyon (guitar, hand claps); Rich Gilbert (pedal steel); Royston Langdon (piano, bass); Dina Waxman (bass).
- Recorded at Dreamland, Woodstock, New York.
- CAR BUTTON CLOTH features the same sort of sugary melodies and clever lyricism that made the Lemonheads' 1992 album IT'S A SHAME ABOUT RAY one of the decade's pop classics. But this time, with the aid of Dinosaur Jr. drummer Patrick "Murph" Murphy and producer Bryce Goggin, the Lemonheads have both a harder edge and a looser feel. There's a wider range of styles, too. Evan Dando, the singer/songwriter/heartthrob who is the Lemonheads' only constant member, co-wrote songs for CAR BUTTON CLOTH with Eugene Kelly (Eugenius, the Vaselines) and Epic Soundtracks (Swell Maps). The pop standouts include Dando/Kelly's "If I Could Talk I'd Tell You" (listen for the newspaper-crunching sound), "Break Me" (with its sweet flute-sounding solo) and the all-too-short "Tenderfoot."
- CAR BUTTON CLOTH also nods in the directions of country (a cover of the Louvin Brothers' "Knoxville Girl"), punk, metal and even jazz. In his warm baritone, Dando sings lines like "Khmer Rouge qua/Your place or Mein Kampf." The album title has its roots in a second-grade homework assignment that called on Dando to drop objects in a bathtub and see what would float or sink. It's a safe bet the quality and eclectic nature of CAR BUTTON CLOTH's songs will assure this record's buoyant rise to the top of the pop bathtub.
- Personnel: Evan Dando (vocals, guitar, piano, Moog synthesizer, drums, percussion); Bryce Goggin (vocals, organ, Moog synthesizer); Bill Gibson (guitar, background vocals); Kenny Lyon (guitar); Royston Langdon (piano).
- Audio Mixer: Bryce Goggin.
- Recording information: Dreamland, Woodstock, NY.
- Illustrator: Evan Dando.
- Photographer: Sue Kapa.
- Unknown Contributor Role: Patrick Murphy.
- CAR BUTTON CLOTH doesn't make many alterations to the Lemonheads' 1990s formula of wide-eyed, borderline-merry neuroses over spry guitar pop; but why should they? Evan Dando was settled into a solid groove and the 1996 offering from the durable Boston band continues to tap that vein. Obvious single "If I Could Talk, I'd Tell You" delights in its silly, pseudo-intellectual (often subtly dark) puns, slyly covering the shiest of sweet love songs. The rest of the record shifts from swift Swiftian rock to introspective ballads, but never bores.
Rolling Stone (11/28/96, pp.132-134) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...Gone are the acoustic guitars that dominated the last two albums; the music is now beefed up by the churning, dual-guitar electricity of [Evan] Dando and Bill Gibson....Perhaps the most startling development...is the degree to which Dando is prepared to risk being serious..."
Spin (11/96, p.120) - 8 (out of 10) - "...his deftest yet, jumping from pastel-toned jangle to messy rawk noise. The resulting music lifts Dando into the category of first-rate rock'n'roll weirdo, a less bonkers Syd Barrett for the generation that buys its psychedelics at Urban Outfitters..."
Entertainment Weekly (10/18/96, p.82) - "...prove[s] the Lemonheads can still squeeze deliciously bittersweet pop out of their souls." - Rating: B+
Q (11/96, p.126) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...an awkward but magnetically honest instance of mental spring-cleaning, as Black Sabbath as it is Burrito Brothers. One hopes he's feeling better now."
Melody Maker (9/21/96, p.48) - Recommended - "...Sometimes soulful, sometimes...glib. Sometimes plain irritating. And sometimes pure genius....basically, COME ON FEEL THE LEMONHEADS part two--and recommendations don't come much higher than that. It's just as sad, lonely, confused, tormented. It's just as relentlessly inward-looking..."
NME (Magazine) (12/21-28/96, pp.66-67) - Ranked #23 in NME's 1996 critic's poll.
NME (Magazine) (9/28/96, p.54) - 8 (out of 10) - "For one so royally f---ed up, Evan Dando's a very tidy craftsman....caressing the sharp, rhythmic lines and upward curves of melodic loveliness that fatten CAR BUTTON CLOTH, it's easy to forget Dando's recent history..."