Grandaddy LAST PLACE Review
Grandaddy is an American indie rock band from Modesto, California, formed in 1992. The band consists of Jason Lytle (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Kevin Garcia (bass guitar), Aaron Burtch (drums), Jim Fairchild (guitar) and Tim Dryden (keyboards). After several self-released records and cassettes, the band signed to Will Records in the US and later the V2 subsidiary Big Cat Records in the UK, going on to sign an exclusive deal with V2. The bulk of the band’s recorded output was the work of Lytle, who worked primarily in home studios. The band released four studio albums before splitting in 2006, with band members going on to solo careers and other projects. Grandaddy reformed in 2012 and have since made a number of live appearances.
In 2016, the band announced its fifth studio album, LAST PLACE, due for release in March 2017. Much of the band’s music is characterized by Lytle’s analog synthesizer and the fuzzy guitar, bass and drums of the rest of the band. The band has variously been described as “bittersweet indie space rock”, “neo-psychedelic, blissed-out indie rock”, “dreamy, spacey psychedelic pop”, and “an uneasy combination of warm, tactile guitars and affectless electronics”. Jon Pareles of The New York Times described the band’s songs as “stately anthems orchestrated with full late-psychedelic pomp: fuzz-toned guitar strumming, rippling keyboards, brawny drumbeats”.
While the band have sometimes been described as ‘alt country’, in Lytle’s view it is the sentiment of country music that the band embraced rather than the musical style. In their early days, the band’s lo-fi sound was compared to Pavement. The band has also been compared to Radiohead (even described as “the next Radiohead” in 2001), Weezer, The Flaming Lips and Elliott Smith. With Sumday, the band were compared to the Electric Light Orchestra and The Alan Parsons Project.
Lytle has cited both The Beatles and E.L.O. as influences, stating in 2003: “I’m completely in tune with E.L.O. and Jeff Lynne – I know that guy like the back of my hand.” He stated in 2009: “I think the majority of my musical influences were set in stone when I was five or six years old.” Lytle’s vocals have drawn comparisons with Neil Young.
“It was inevitable… On one hand our stubbornness has paid off, but on the other hand refusing to buy into the way things are traditionally supposed to be done has made things worse for us… The realistic part is it hasn’t proved to be a huge money-making venture for a lot of guys in the band.”
In March 2012, it was announced that Grandaddy had reformed and were to play a limited number of shows, including London on September 4, and headlining the End of the Road Festival in the UK. Grandaddy also played San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival and Paris’s Rock en Seine Festival in August 2012. On August 7, 2012, to kick off their reunion tour, they played two small, “secret” shows to a crowd of roughly 250 friends, family and fans at the Partisan in Merced, California. They were billed as “Arm of Roger”.
Regarding the band’s reunion, Jason Lytle noted, “The bargain I made myself regarding the ‘brief reunion and couple of shows’ situation was that I wasn’t gonna talk too much about it. I was just gonna stew on it, and then do it. That’s the good thing about festivals. No need for me to sell anything here. Get in, rock out, get paid, get out. There are just going to be a few shows. Festival-type thingies. Perhaps the odd ‘warm up gig’ in someone’s hair salon or something. Money was a motivating factor (resurfacing my indoor tennis court, oil change for my 4×4 Ferrari) but the idea of playing and hanging out with each other is something all of the guys are pretty stoked about.”
Lytle later noted, “It was actually Jim [Fairchild]’s fault. He suggested that we consider playing some shows, and I went, ‘no’, [but] he convinced me it might be a good idea. We talked about it for a little while. I didn’t think anyone else in the band would be into it, [and] he checked around and it turns out they were all enthusiastic. I think I was the last one to say yes. I was actually blown away that they even wanted to. Once I found that out, I said ‘OK, let’s start doing the work, figure out how to play the songs.’ The weird moment was when he had the first rehearsal; I had no idea how it was going to turn out. After five days of playing together it actually sounded really good. It was too easy, and we were actually really having a good time together.”
Lytle also noted that he is likely to record a new Grandaddy album, stating, “It’s probably going to happen. If anyone knows anything about Grandaddy, they realise that my [solo] music and Grandaddy’s music is slightly interchangeable. I think if I were to focus on making a Grandaddy record [it would be] a full-blown Grandaddy record, and I like the idea of that. I’d like to give it a shot.” In early 2013, Lytle elaborated: “I love the idea of making another Grandaddy record, but I wouldn’t want it hanging over my head like ‘Okay, you made this record, now are you guys going to get out there and tour in support of it?’ I’m hoping for this dream scenario where I can make Grandaddy records every so often and not have all this messy stuff that goes along with it. I already did that and it’s just not appealing to me anymore.”
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