Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Grandaddy: Why Didn’t Anybody Like These Guys?

Jason Lytle lamented a few months before the release of their final album “Just Like The Fambly Cat” (2006) that he was disillusioned by this whole “making music for no money and little recognition” thing and that he was disbanding Grandaddy. It turns out, unfortunately, that this last album turned out to be one of their best musically and was extremely well received by both fans and critics alike.
A few months later he decided to move to Montana and hibernate until his muse returned, which it apparently did, during the start of 2008.
From 1996-2006 this band put out two pretty good albums (“A Pretty Mess By This One Band” & “Sumday”), two pretty terrific albums (“Under The Western Freeway” & “Just Like The Fambly Cat”) and one stone cold modern classic in 2000’s “The Sophtware Slump”, a turn of the century space rock masterpiece some were comparing to Radiohead’s “OK Computer”.
So why did this terrific lo-fi band from Modesto (living in an armpit like Modesto couldn’t have helped!) just curl up and die, why weren’t they respected while they were around?
Some folks blame that “other” lo-fi band, Pavement, also from Northern California (Stockton---not much better than Modesto, I‘m afraid). Grandaddy were always getting compared to Pavement but were never afforded the same amount of street cred by the music critics that the former band had from album one.
A pity, really, because although Pavement was an incredible band I think Grandaddy were almost…at least just as good. I know I’m gonna get slammed for this but I don’t think that Pavement put out anything as brilliant as “The Sophtware Slump”. Only “Crooked Rain Crooked Rain” comes close, being the magnificent disc that it is, but it falls slightly short of “Sophtware” due to some obvious filler. I always loved Pavement, but at times it seemed they worked a little too hard to obtain that sloppy sound.
Jason Lytle has just completed his first solo project (as yet untitled, I believe), due for release sometime this year, and to get you primed here’s a video from “The Sophtware Slump” entitled THE CRYSTAL LAKE...


ThomG said...

I'm a big fan of both Grandaddy and Pavement, but I have a problem of "making music for money and attention." Make music because that's what you were born to do, and pound at it. You either "make it" or you don't. But along the way, you inspire another generation to pick up instruments and make music. Sheesh.

Uncle E said...

I dunno Thom, I think he's just being honest. I think all bands start out with noble intentions, but after a few albums with little success and constant battering by the critical masses, can get you down a little, donchathink? I agree that the attention shouldn't make a damn bit of difference, but the money? I think making cash is always a primary motivation. Fame and fortune, man. I don't remember even the Clash turning in their royalty checks to charity.
Oh, and by the way, the Hold Steady album is EXCELLENT! You should hunt down "Okema and the Melody Of Riot by Son Volt, very similiar in feel and energy. I think you'll dig it!

GE said...

I'm with you, E. Grandaddy is a great band that definitely deserved better. Although, I would stop short of giving them Pavement status. My biggest criticism, and I know it was part of Jason Lytle's overall theme, was the whole machines-are-taking-over thing invaded the music and made the songs sound a little less organic than I'd like. I guess the same way you think Pavement had to work so hard to sound improvisational, I think Grandaddy had to work a little too hard to sound proto-electronic.

Rob McCleary said...


Do you have a facebook account?

A few weeks ago I came home drunk and made "War Universe" - the virtual fuckband no one can be banned from joining. I want to invite you to join. My instrument is the metal folding chair thrown down a flight of stairs. In a pinch I can also improvise on a rusty car jack or the loose change jar. While I realize that most critics consider these more sound effects than instruments, War Universe is a band for the people, and not the critics.

Uncle E said...

GE, you're spot on about the whole robots thing getting kinda tiresome and repetitive, I'm in total agreement.
Rob, you're freakin' funny. I don't have an account, but I will now!