American Radiohead! American Radiohead!
Nah, not really. Aside from the fact that both groups have a really depressed-sounding singer, there's not much of a similarity here. Grandaddy are more interested in grafting creaky synthesizer noises onto indie-rock backing than making entire albums out of just synth splotches.
lineup: Aaron Burtch (drums); Tim Dryden (keyboards); Jim Fairchild (guitar); Kevin Garcia (bass); Jason Lytle (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
review index: A Pretty Mess by This One Band ep / Under the Western Freeway / The Sophtware Slump / Sumday
missing albums: some rarities collection the name of which I can't remember, nor can I find anywhere
Best songs: Kim You Bore Me to Death, Taster, Egg Hit and Jack Too
Worst songs: Peeano, Away Birdies w/Special Sounds
Well, one must start somewhere, mustn't one? And Grandaddy started out as a rather generic indie-rock band, a fact to which this ep will attest. There's little to no sign of the synth noises that would show up on later releases, and the songwriting hasn't, uh, arrived yet. Okay, "Taster" has a pleasant chorus, and "Kim, You Bore Me to Death" is several feet above the rest of the material, but silly go-nowhere tracks like "Peeano" and the acoustic guitar-with-speaking "Away Birdies w/Special Sounds" don't inspire much trust in the unsuspecting listener, and the generic fuzzy thump of "Pre-Merced" bores me to death. Hahahahahahahahahaaa! Oh, sorry. "Gentle Spike Resort" ain't anything to write home about, but the ep ends on a relative high note with the neat instrumental "Egg Hit and Jack Too". The band shows promise, but hey, I don't give high ratings for promise!
Best songs: Nonphenomenal Lineage, Summer Here Kids, Lawn & So On, Collective Dreamwish of Upperclass Elegance
Worst songs: not my job
I've got to admit, it's getting better, getting better all the time. And by "it", I mean the songwriting. It's a whole lot less generic than the preceding EP's material, and points towards the absolute brilliance of The Sophtware Slump, though it's not quite as good.
So, your album starts out with "Nonphenomenal Lineage", which begins with a mellotron choir before settling into an arpeggiated acoustic guitar-driven tune, adding a few bits of drumming near the end, then the song dissipates into the next song, "A.M. 180", a fuzzy yet forlorn little ditty. Confused yet? Good! "Collective Dreamwash of Upperclass Elegance" borrows the synth part from XTC's "Helicopter" (slowed down a bit). "Summer Here Kids" is actually uptempo and (musically, anyway) happy! It's amazing!
Blah. You don't care about this. If you like the next album, you'll probably like this one, so just buy them both, okay? At least buy the next one. Please? Pretty please?
Best songs: He's Simple He's Dumb He's the Pilot, Jed the Humanoid, The Crystal Lake, Broken Household Appliance National Forest
Worst songs: ha!
Good freakin' God! How did they make that incredible leap from average indie-rockers to...to...THIS?!
If I may be allowed to make another wholly inappropriate Radiohead analogy, this album blows OK, Whatever out of the freakin' water. The lyrics are way less pretentious, Jason Lytle's voice is a lot less irritating than Thom Yorke's, there's no stupidass "experimental" guitar noises, and the songwriting is way better.
So the album begins with "He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's the Pilot", a nine-minute epic that shifts from acoustic ballad to synth soundscape to piano-led despair in a very nice manner. On first listen, it seems to overshadow the rest of the album, but after more scrutiny the other tracks distinguish themselves as just as good. "Jed the Humanoid" is a particular favorite of mine; the song's about an android (or so I figure) that kills himself after his creators stop paying attention to him. And the kicker here is, they're totally unaffected by it ("last night something pretty bad happened"; "Jed's system's dead, therefore so is Jed")! The bastards.
Anyways, there are plenty of good tracks on here, but you can tell I'm not very good at raving about albums I love. Just do me a favor and pick this one up, especially if you like those Oxford poopyHeads. Pleeeeease? Please? Please? Please? Pretty please? Please? With sugar on top? Please? Please? Please?
Best songs: Now It's On, I'm On Standby, El Caminos in the West, Stray Dog and the Chocolate Shake
Worst songs: Lost On Yer Merry Way, O.K. With My Decay
It's been a year since I reviewed the rest of the Grandaddy albums. Now I'm a year older, a year wiser, and a year more crotchety.
I'm not sure why, but something has compelled the 'dads to revert to the indie-rock sound of Under the Western Freeway, except with the improved clarity of production shown on The Sophtware Slump. I wouldn't mind this change of plans if the songs were as knock-me-down amazing as Slump's, but, well, they aren't. Granted, it's certainly not bad, but by no means is this nearly as impressive as said previous album. They do at least manage to cover some new ground with "Now It's On", possibly the fastest and loudest song they've ever done (though don't expect that much speed/volume), and a few tracks come close to the beauty of TSS, but there's not that much going on to compel me to give it any more than, say, an average grade.
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