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The First Time – 2001 (Sissybar)

Reviewed by Michael Berick

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CDs by Lemonpeeler

It's always a welcome surprise when a disc that you've heard nothing about grabs your attention with the opening chord and holds it for the entire album. Lemonpeeler's debut record exudes a refreshing twang pop sound that brings to mind the recent work of The Jayhawks, although you also hear traces of chimey pop bands like Semisonic and Coldplay and, on a cover of the Immortals' "Two Sisters", a harder edged Paul Kelly.

Singer/songwriter Michael Hayes, whose vocals suggest a blend of the Jayhawks' Mark Louris with Freedy Johnston, pens warm, melodic songs that the band confidently performs, effortlessly balancing a rock bite with an melancholy. The infectious album opener "Automatic" would be a hit in a perfect world, while tuness like the hooky, drug-themed "Around", the bittersweet, harmony-rich "Take Me Back" and guitarist Jim Eddy's gorgeous ballad "Annabelle's Design" all keep the momentum going throughout the Boston band's short but succulent record. (