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Album Review

Don Lennon's charming, geeky fourth album is an autobiographical concept piece about standup comics, television comedies, and minimum wage employment. Musically and vocally, Routine is a mix of Jonathan Richman and early folkie King Missile, with Lennon's voice sometimes coming across as a dead ringer for Erlend Øye or the Ocean Blue's David Schelzel. Even a casual listen of Routine suggests that the gentle-voiced indie rocker watches a huge amount of television and isn't afraid to flaunt it. Lennon name-checks Jimmy Fallon while bemoaning and praising Saturday Night Live in "What SNL Stands For," compares and contrasts John Ritter with Carrot Top and Bill Cosby in "Last Comic Standing," and seemingly goes mad about Fraiser in "The Death of My Imagination." While Lennon's quirky lyrics and subject matter are always interesting, his music is strong enough that he needn't go so far down the wacky Beat Happening path. A song like the delicate "My Resume," without the Access Hollywood revelry that peppers much of the album, is endearing and touching enough to compare favorably to Magnetic Fields or East River Pipe. But given the album's autobiographical slant, it really becomes hard to find fault. If television is so dear to Lennon, these song-stories gain some credibility as a musical slice of life. Routine is a somewhat difficult first listen, given its inherent naïvety and television geekery, but it reveals its charm quite handily with more listens. With all the soul-bearing on display, Lennon seems like a really nice, talented fellow, but his outright honesty will probably make his music a love it or hate it affair for most listeners. It's both sad and wonderful that Routine is saddled with such artistic honesty.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

In the early/mid-1990s, Don Lennon served as lead singer of Boston's The Umpteens, who released three cassettes and one single during their brief tenure. Lennon went solo in 1997, with the release of Maniac on Martin Phillips Records. The disc was recorded at Studio 7 with producer Sean Drinkwater. Immediately, his deadpan, straightforward delivery raised eyebrows in indie pop and indie rock circles. His quirky songwriting quickly drew comparisons to Jonathan Richman and the Talking Heads. From the...
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Routine, Don Lennon
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