A lot of bands change a lot between their indie debut and their first major-label release, but few as much as the Lemons. The group that recorded 1993's Marvel is almost entirely a different band than the group who signed with Mercury Records in 1994; unfortunately, the indie group was the better one.
The first lineup of the Lemons formed in 1991 consisting of guitarist and primary songwriter Greg Lovell, singer and lead guitarist Jimmy Paulson, bassist Brent Saunders, and drummer Rob Cunningham. The quartet gigged around Seattle during the immediate post-grunge era, finally releasing their debut album, Marvel, on the local indie Macola Records in 1993. A speedy album that owed more to the bratty '80 pop-punk of the Descendents and All than the currently fashionable sludgy grunge sound, Marvel was a refreshing change of pace, but the group split in half almost immediately upon its release. Paulson took a temporary job as lead guitarist for the Best Kissers in the World and then formed the hard rock New American Shame. Lovell became lead singer and added Jeff Hiatt on lead guitar. The reconstituted band signed with Mercury Records in 1994 and released a self-titled EP. The group recorded the first version of their second album in Memphis with the Descendents' Bill Stevenson producing, but the label rejected the tapes. Replacing Cunningham (who joined Flake) with new drummer Nabil Ayers, the Lemons re-recorded the Stevenson tapes and released Sturdy in 1995. By that time, however, the bloom was off the Seattle rose and the record sold poorly. The Lemons were dropped and broke up the following year.