Release Date: May 19, 2009
Record label: Anti
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The reality that Jason Lytle was the creative mind keeping Grandaddy alive became apparent around the time of the release of 2006’s Just Like the Fambly Cat. Others in the band reportedly had little, if anything, to do with the making of that album. But it introduced a Grandaddy that was attempting to redefine itself by recycling old sounds. Unfortunately, the result was a mess of trite lyrics and, well, songs that sounded recycled.
It bears repeating: What a strange world Jason Lytle inhabits. As the frontman for Modesto, California-based Grandaddy, he sang about homemade pets, homesick space miners, and carpool jockeys struck dumb by the natural world. Three years after that band's final breaths, his world has grown no less odd. On his first solo album, he sets songs about dead dogs and birds on suicide watch to technorganic arrangements featuring ELO guitars, from-the-heart-of-space synths, and steady, stoic drums-- if drums can be said to sound stoic, which in Lytle's world, why the hell not? With Grandaddy, Lytle sung his mock epics with such earnestness that many took them as ironic, which itself is a little ironic.
In 2006, after a decade-plus fronting Cali dream-pop miserabilists Grandaddy, bearded skateboard aficionado Jason Lytle broke up his group and hightailed it to Montana. Yet big-sky country hasn’t changed him much: Yours Truly, The Commuter, Lytle’s solo debut, is a sweetly sad collection of fuzzed-out odes to frustration (the bouncy title track) and furry friends (”Ghost of My Old Dog”). Even when he’s singing about the weekend — on, uh, ”It”s the Weekend” — Lytle’s fragile voice sounds a hairbreadth from tears.
Frontman Jason Lytle did much of the heavy lifting throughout Grandaddy's career, juggling the roles of frontman, spokesman, and producer while also penning the band's material. He shouldered even more weight with 2006's Just Like the Fambly Cat, effectively finishing the album himself after the band disintegrated during the recording process. As a result, Lytle sounds confident and relaxed during his first "official" solo release, which explores the signature Grandaddy sound while nodding to Lytle's new home in Montana.
And here we thought we’d never get another Grandaddy album. When Grandaddy broke up, it would have been perfectly natural to think we’d heard the last of that band’s sound. Just Like the Fambly Cat was a sad little album that was an unfortunate death knell for Grandaddy. By the time it was released, the band as we knew it had already been broken up for something like six months, apparently because indie bands that garner great reviews and relatively small audiences of hugely devoted fans just don’t make the kind of money that pays for a decent mortgage.
Much has changed in Jason Lytle's life since 2005: Grandaddy, his critically acclaimed indie rock band, broke up; he left his hometown of Modesto, CA, for the mountains of Arizona; and he's struggled with substance abuse problems. Despite all that, his music has remained the same - exactly the same - although this solo debut fixates less on feeling isolated in a high-tech world than on nostalgia for the past. [rssbreak] Here's the problem: during Lytle's music-industry hiatus, bands like Bon Iver and Chad VanGaalen have freshened up the soft-sung isolationist alt-folk genre - Lytle's forte - leaving this new material sounding like old news.
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