Dope Lemon: A Crash Course

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

By Christine Naprava

Dope Lemon and I go way back. I’m talking “take her for a ride on a big jet plane” way back. If those lyrics ring a bell, then consider Dope Lemon less of a stranger and more of an old friend.

Angus and Julia Stone

Dope Lemon wasn’t always Dope Lemon.  He was and still is the Angus in Angus & Julia Stone, an Australian folk and indie pop group from Sydney. Formed in 2006, brother and sister Angus and Julia Stone have four studio albums to their name and are best known for their 2010 single “Big Jet Plane,” which took my then-thirteen-year-old, indie-loving heart by storm. After releasing his debut solo album under the pseudonym Lady of the Sunshine in 2009, and a second solo album under his birth name in 2012, Angus began recording music under the moniker of Dope Lemon in 2016.

Angus is the son of folk musicians John and Kim Stone. In primary school, Angus and his older sisters, Catherine and Julia, joined the school band, which was coincidentally led by their father. The Stones were known to perform at family gatherings, with Angus on the trombone. After Angus’ parents separated when he was fourteen, he began writing pop songs, and in high school, he served as the lead singer in a band that performed both cover and original songs at local community events.

In their late teens, Angus and Julia were vacationing in South America when Angus revealed his musical side to Julia, writing songs and teaching her how to play the guitar. In 2005, the brother and sister began performing at open mic nights, with Julia sometimes delivering the backing vocals, and in 2006, they formed Angus & Julia Stone, releasing their debut EP in August of that year.

Dope Lemon’s first studio album, Honey Bones

Angus & Julia Stone walked so Dope Lemon could run. I could tell you that Dope Lemon falls under the genre of alternative with overwhelming indie folk, indie pop, and indie rock elements, but I’d be doing both Angus and his artistry a disservice with such a generic description. The man’s music is indie with a razor-sharp, sexy edge. It doesn’t just fulfill: it tantalizes. I listen to Dope Lemon when I want to feel cool. I listen to Dope Lemon when I don’t have access to a convertible, leather jacket, or anything else on this planet that embodies and oozes cool.    

As Dope Lemon, Angus has released three studio albums: Honey Bones (2016), Smooth Big Cat (2019), and Rose Pink Cadillac (2022). In this article, I will be covering my top three Dope Lemon tracks, which all happen to be off Honey Bones, in no particular order. Not only do these three songs offer a solid representation of who Dope Lemon is as an artist, but they represent Angus’ extreme range as a musician. If the music Angus makes with his sister is a gentle breeze, then the music Angus makes as Dope Lemon is a cigarette left smoldering in an ashtray.


Holy folk. Corny, but it had to be said. The intro to “Stonecutters” is more folk than the intro to “Best Girl,” and the intro to “Best Girl,” which I will discuss in depth below, is pretty damn folk. The first eleven seconds of “Stonecutters” is pure banjo. At twelve seconds, the banjo dies out, ushering in a tune that’s less folk and more indie.

The opening lyrics alone will sell you on this song. After a roughly one-minute-long instrumental intro, Angus declares, “Don’t leave your daughters out. There’s big players in town.” A few seconds later, Angus delivers another unnerving declaration: “Yeah, I heard he was asking for your name around.” The following lyrics, which happen to be my favorite in the entire song purely because they make me feel like Angus is a wise old local in my hometown, are preceded by the same banjo heard in the intro: “Yeah, the postman he hasn’t been here for days.” This isn’t the last time the banjo makes an appearance in “Stonecutters.” It can be heard all throughout and after both choruses so that the track never loses its folk flair.

In the first verse, the lyrics, combined with Angus’ vocal delivery, give wise old local, but his vocals in the chorus give anything but. Angus’ singing voice can be as deep and gruff as deep gruff gets, or it can be extremely light, airy, and quintessentially indie. The Angus we get in the first and second verses of “Stonecutters” is virtually unrecognizable from the Angus we get in the first and second choruses, making this the most unpredictable, keep-you-on-your-toes track I will cover in this article.

Dope Lemon performing in Auckland, New Zealand

While we’re on the topic of unpredictability, let’s discuss the instrumental breakdown at two minutes and thirty-four seconds, as well as the unexpected rock n’ roll-esque outro. Angus gives listeners almost forty seconds of banjo-backed vocals and banjo-infused instrumental before cooling things way down halfway through the track. The song slows and mellows before ever so slightly, picking up speed and intensity and bleeding into the second verse.

Like a shooting star, the unexpected rock n’ roll-esque outro I mentioned above is so brief and so slight you might just miss it. Listen closely, beginning at the four-minute and seventeen-second mark, and tell me that the ending isn’t evocative of a hard rock song.

“Best Girl”:

“You’re the best girl. You’re my best.” You’re going to hear those words a lot in this song and never once grow tired of hearing them. At least, I never do, and “Best Girl” is probably my most-played Dope Lemon track to date. The acoustic guitar work in the first forty-three seconds of the instrumental intro is magical. The thirty or so seconds of instrumentation that follow are even more so. At the forty-four-second mark, the song kicks into high gear, and Angus hasn’t even addressed his listeners yet.

“Best Girl” is unique in that it begins with the chorus. As I implied earlier, the entire chorus, and I’m talking the entire chorus, consists of the lyrics, “You’re the best girl. You’re my best,” repeated over and over again. Angus may repeat the same set of lyrics, but they never get repetitive, which one hundred percent has to do with his vocal delivery. I don’t care who you are, but from the second Angus opens his mouth, you are his best girl. It’s early morning, he’s bringing you a cup of coffee in bed, and he’s serenading you as you come to. His voice is soothing and calm, but his conviction is strong. That’s a strangely specific image I’ve painted there, I know, but that’s exactly where my mind goes every time I listen to this track.

There is no clear delineation between the chorus and the first verse. Angus goes from telling you you’re his best in the chorus to telling you, “You can try your best, but it won’t work” in the first verse. After telling listeners this not once but twice, Angus delivers another dose of discouragement in the same gentle, easy tone he’s had since the beginning of the track: “Spend your gold here, but it won’t work. Spend your coins, dear, but it won’t work.” “Best Girl” wouldn’t be a Dope Lemon song if it didn’t reference dope or lemons at least once. My favorite lyrics are delivered in the second verse when Angus tells us, “Squeeze that lemon into [his] brain.”

The star of “Best Girl” would have to be when Angus starts to “ooh” about halfway through the song. His first set of oohs can be heard between the chorus and the second verse. They’re soothe-you-to-sleep calm and are cleverly layered beneath the instrumentation. Angus oohs again in the second verse and after the last chorus before the song slowly but surely comes to a wound-down, lullaby-type end.

“How Many Times”:

You won’t get a Dope Lemon track that’s sexier and more sinister than “How Many Times.” Look up indie with a razor-sharp, sexy edge in the dictionary, or even that cigarette left smoldering in an ashtray, and you’ll find this song.

Dope Lemon performing in Manchester, England

“How Many Times” begins with a fast-paced, almost disorienting sound effect before lapsing into guitar chords and essentially “restarting” a mere four seconds in. At the seven-second mark, the slow, steady beat that carries the song until its abrupt ending creeps in, gaining its footing and setting the absolute mood that is this track.

Listeners are first introduced to Angus’ gruff vocals at fourteen seconds as he announces, “Here come the doorway.” There’s a blissful, eight-second-long pause before Angus readdresses his listeners with the following set of perfectly-paced lyrics: “It’s going down the track. Here come the dope train. Yeah, kill a man for talking back.”

How fitting that Angus sings of a train in that the first minute or so of this song makes you feel as though you’re waiting at a station, specifically an Old West station, as a train ominously chugs in your direction. On that train is someone who could change your life for the better, but much more likely for the worse. All you know for certain is that once that person steps down onto the platform, your life will never be the same.

Before the first verse gives way to a most psychedelic chorus, Angus serves up my favorite lyrics: “She’ll have you on the floor begging for more.” It’s less in the words he’s singing and more so in how he sings them, “begging for more” in specific. His vocals are as careful, calculated, and fulfilling as the beat that backs them. My second favorite set of lyrics comes at the very end of the track when Angus tells us, “She’s just trying to tease ya, look. She’s just dying to tease ya. She’s just dying to please ya. Boy, you’re just dying to please her.” Again, my affinity for these lyrics has more to do with the way Angus delivers them and less to do with the lyrics themselves.

The psychedelic sound of the chorus, which I will get into momentarily, takes control of the outro. Angus’ vocals are slightly altered in certain parts (“look”) and combined with the faintest of sound effects in others (“she’s just dying to please ya”), making the ending of the song an entire experience.

If the first verse transports you to an Old West train station, then the chorus transports you to the height of a psychedelic trip. The chorus is fresh air on the brain. The repetitive lyrics (“How many times does it take to hear the phone? To hear the phone?”), Angus’ significantly lighter, airier vocals and the chorus dwindling instrumentally into the second verse takes you there, wherever you want there to be.

The Take-Away:

Maybe you’re looking to spice up your arsenal of go-to indie tracks, or maybe you’re familiar with the Angus in Angus & Julia Stone but not the Angus in Dope Lemon and are looking to change that. Whatever the case may be, Dope Lemon’s discography is ready and waiting.

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

Christine Naprava (@Cnaprava) is a contributor for and may be reached at

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