“If you have Sleep and Sleater-Kinney next to each other in your record collection, you’ll like Blood Lemon” -Melanie Radford, attributed to Katie Rife, The AV Club
There are many reasons Headquarters felt Blood Lemon should be covered on a site that’s kinda focused on Stoner/Doom. I think the biggest one, the one that matters, is how much they respect US. Like, us as in a tight community that usually tends to stick within our beloved genre. Even my site name implies a certain focus, and if all of a sudden I post about pop-punk or Emo, I’m probably going to lose a few readers. So why Blood Lemon? Because they deliver a one-two punch on a of couple songs I think you might appreciate, especially since their display of power is genuine, effective, and above all respectful.
The second, and almost as important, reason is the insistence of Clean and Sober Stoner advisor and overall music guru- Al (as in Alan). Al has been trying to get me to do this since November. Sorry, Al. But better late than never…
The third reason is they fucking RAWK.
Blood Lemon is almost impossible to categorize. Except in the most shallow of ways: three women, a strong 90’s Indie or Riot Grrrl vibe and easy assumptions based on gender.
Hey I’m not perfect, and I had to walk through all that garbage myself when Al put this interview/performance on YouTube:
Now, I’m aware of my click rate, and I know that most of you are going to watch this video. But I gotta tell you, this video is well worth watching. I could skip this whole post and record a clip of me shaking my head and making holy-riff faces throughout it. If you’re in a band- regardless of genre- I think you need to watch this. It’s a clinic on some of the most essential things about being in a band, and the performances are epic. Also important is how they handled an awkward interview, which at times got…weird.
I went from dismissive to nearly fanatic after watching this. But the HOLY SHIT moments that yanked my spleen come near the end, at the 25:31 mark, the last song, titled Burned. As Al warned me, “The transition in Burned could be one of the greatest in-song genre transitions in the history of music.”
Yup. Burned starts out as a bouncy, Riot Grrrl pop-punk ditty- the kind I tune out of pretty quick. Except it’s not.
As a bass player with endless admiration for bassists, the line that Melanie Radford dispatches is naaasty. I’m not sure I would have picked up on this right away had I heard it on the album version, but she has the presence of a Master performer, her face locked in the ecstatic gaze of one who just knows this is one coolest lines she’ll ever play, will ever be played, and she is in the ZONE. Her performance at the 27:01 mark had me jump out of my seat, slouch back into the couch, and hit re-wind a few times. It’s the kind of performance that either wants me to drop my bass on the floor, hear the neck crack and walk away… Or, strap that behemoth back on and get to work.
Either way, I will never be as good as Melanie Radford. I can be good, even great, but not like that.
I’ll never forget my reaction just a few seconds later, at about 28:25. Drummer Lindsey Lloyd has been fucking with you the whole time. She’s kind unobtrusive, holding things down with a practiced simplicity and a never-ending smile on her face.
Then, she closes her eyes, takes a deep meditative breath, and unleashes the Beast. She knows you did not see this coming. The whole band knows you did not see this coming, does this transformation in an instant, and before you know it guitarist Lisa Simpson is drilling into your Heavy Psych-starved brain and delivering one of the finest moments of Heavy Fucking Shit you can imagine.
I can only write for myself, but when my expectations get turned on their ass like that, I’m hooked. That’s when I dig deeper into an album and appreciate the nuggets of gold I didn’t even see (or hear) the first time around. Burned was my intro to the band, and in going back to the album, there are hints of the absolute ferocity this band can release. Stoner Castle is as Heavy Psych as anything from our recent crop of genre-defining bands.
Black-Capped Cry is almost Doom, with outrageously beautiful vocal harmonies and a deft sensibility that might be missing on some of our playlists. If this was the only song you heard, you might lump them in with any number of heavy bands.
Closer Leave the Gaslight On seals the deal for me. Look, I can’t pass this off as Stoner/Doom. Blood Lemon is too eclectic for that kind of label, but I can assert that they write and perform this (our) music as well as the best bands on the scene. I would do anything to see them open for Steak, whose ability to fuse emotion with power is the equal of this trio. Baroness would also be a killer lineup. Weedeater or Monolord , not so much. But I’d still go!!!!!!!!
I know I’m giving very little attention to guitarist/vocalist Lisa Simpson, and that’s deliberate. Her guitar playing, across such a diverse mix of sounds and styles, doesn’t need my commentary or comments: it speaks for itself. I just think she’s one of the most creative and adaptive guitarists I’ve heard in a while, regardless of genre.
So yeah, man. Blood Lemon. They gave us a massive shout-out back in 2021, and while in 2023 it’s just an echo, I want to give them a shout back. Respect is a good thing, and they took the time to infuse their love of All Things Heavy in an amazing rock album that reflected their sensibilities. I imagine more than one college student put on Dopesmoker or The Sciences after hearing this, and added a few more ears to our scene. In some small way, I’d like to return the favor.