Sunday, May 14, 2006

Grandaddy - Just Like the Fambly Cat 6.8

It's all vaguely familiar

And how.

A little blurb on the inside of my promo cd says its like a greatest hits album made up of all new songs. Well that's a cheesy way of putting it, but for once a label blurb is kinda dead on. Any one of these songs could be inserted into a previous Grandaddy release and seem perfectly at home. Nothing here breaks new ground, but it is a nice way to say goodbye to a band (or band name) with 13 of 15 songs being anywhere from good to damntacular. I omit 'What Happened' cause I would not want to listen to it more than once and '50%' which is 179% more annoying and out of place than 'Street Bunny', the most annoying Grandaddy song ever.

Pitchperfect tapped me for this review cause she knows I heart this band. My love of Grandaddy has many sources. First and foremost was my introduction to them. I won't drag on about it, but I was in a very unhappy, broken heart period in my life when a friend made me a tape comprised of the first Grandaddy album and various songs from EP's. Those songs helped me through a shitty time and Grandaddy had a fan for life. I think I even bought a Grandaddy beanie once, in that former life of mine when I wore beanies. And don't pretend you didn't wear beanies too. We all did and it's something we all have to deal with.

Add to that the fact Jason Lytle had an Amish beard just like the one I rocked for most of my early twenties. I have always felt that facial hair was much more important than musical ability. So when you can combine a healthy amount of talent and outstanding facial hair you get full membership in my personal pantheon of listening pleasure ( hello Jason, meet Bonnie, Akron Family and Tim from Les Savy Fav. Whoa ZZ Top, not so fast).

So yes I am very sad that there will be no more Grandaddy. Although that is certainly not a very acurate statement. Whenever Lytle releases a solo album it will be just as much a 'Grandaddy' album as this was, since from all accounts he did everything on this album himself. So what of this album? I have had a few people at my local record shop tell me that this is an angry album. I don't get that, but I do think its the most forlorn album Grandaddy has done, and that's saying a lot. This is a band that has always had a very special ability to tap into the Mellon collie vein of twentysomethings (and when I say vein I mean 80% of them), yet also be joyous and at times very cutesy. All Grandaddy albums follow the same game plan: slow build up at the start gives way to solid uplifting song craft in the middle, and then the long road to sweeping beauty land at the finish, all of it with a fair amount of well placed bleeps. 'Just Like the Fambly Cat' isn't much different, but the middle is a little bit of a downer, in a good way (make sense?).

Listen to 'Animal World', with its eerie plane landing backing and hear Jason sing the line 'joy to the world' with about as little joy as can be done. Its a great song, but Jason clearly needs a hug.

Highlight for me is 'Summer...It's gone' (which seriously apes Elliott Smith's 'Can't Make a Sound' by the way) with its familiar and soothing vocal. This sounds like the goodbyesong to me. He knows end of summer always sucked, captures it on disc and makes me glad for once that i don't get summers off, if only so i don't have to lament them ending.

Kudos on "Where I'm Anymore" for including that 'meow' chorus. Finally a song my cat can sing along to.

'Elevate Myself' is too cute by half. This song could have been on 'Sumday', the least of all Grandaddy albums. Every song on that album felt like a stretch for radio play and the album never achieved the escape velocity to repeat listening. I have struggled as to whether this one does either, but I keep listening to it and enjoying it so I think I will say it does. It is a step forward from Sumday, which was a step back, so I guess we are back were we started. Nothing new, but nothing lost. I would push that 6.8 to a 7, but that extra .2 is probably just my skewed objectivity.

PS: if you can find it, check out Grandaddy's cover of 10cc's 'I'm Not in Love'. Briiilliant.