Posts Tagged ‘Grandaddy’

One night in June of 1999, we were sitting in Jason’s tiny house in Modesto, California when he mentioned that he could sit down at the piano and play the whole of what would be The Sophtware Slump front to back. This meant he was (finally!) ready to begin recording. The piano was in the kitchen then so we sat and he started to play. Distracted by beer and conversation, we didn’t make it all the way through.

Early last year, as we discussed if we should commemorate the 20th anniversary I recalled the memory and wondered what the album would have sounded like before all that wonderful production, before one note had been committed to tape.

Today we announce The Sophtware Slump…..on a wooden piano. Recorded at Jason’s home during Pandemia 2020. It will arrive digitally November 20th on Dangerbird Records and as part of a four piece vinyl boxset of the original album and most of the b-sides and odds and ends from that era, many appearing on vinyl for the first time here. And a standalone physical release to follow in early 2021.

Grandaddy formed in 1992 and have released five official LPs, most recently 2017’s Last Place. In its 20th anniversary feature on The Sophtware Slump, Stereogum summed up the album, and Grandaddy, with the question: “What if West Coast indie, but sci-fi?” In an age of unprecedented connectivity, these songs spoke to significant solitude. Grandaddy members include Jason Lytle, Aaron Burtch, Jim Fairchild, Tim Dryden, and the late Kevin Garcia, who passed away in 2017.

The Sophtware Slump. Grandaddy’s second album, released 20 years ago today, essentially answered the question: What if West Coast indie, but sci-fi? Or, given the music’s vast prog-rock horizons and Lytle’s skepticism toward all the technology encroaching on Earth’s natural order: What if Radiohead, but West Coast indie? Grandaddy hailed from Modesto — Spanish for “modest” — and the punny title was appropriately self-deprecating. It made a lot of thematic sense, too:

This was a concept LP about the slouching citizens of a disappointing dystopia, trapped on a tapped-out planet full of useless junk. But far from a dreaded second-album misstep, The Sophtware Slump stands as a quirky, ambitious landmark in the overgrown ruins of Y2K-era indie.

Lytle formed Grandaddy in 1992 after his burgeoning pro skateboard career was unceremoniously ended by a knee injury. Early gigs at skate parks plus a longstanding devotion to the Maximumrocknroll radio show led to Grandaddy playing up tempo punk rock at first, but by the time they released their debut album Under The Western Freeway in 1997, their style had softened into a rustic yet electronic spin on the scrappy underground guitar noodlings of Pavement and Built To Spill. The album’s best, most enduring song, “A.M. 180,” paired fuzzed-out power chords with a deviously catchy keyboard riff that sounded futuristic and amateurish all at once. The other tracks toyed around with a less overtly poppy variations of this aesthetic, a sort of ramshackle space-age slacker rock that, as it turned out, lent itself perfectly to songs about the American West decaying into a technological wasteland.

Such is the genius of The Sophtware Slump. Jason Lytle had established an entire alternate universe in sound and substance, strung together in peculiar vignettes that left much to the imagination. It was a triumph, but Grandaddy weren’t done evolving yet. Three years later, they’d return with Sumday, an album that ditched the mythology and experimentation in favor of ’70s-inspired hi-fi splendor. At the time, Lytle called it “a reflection of everything we’ve been working towards” and “the ultimate Grandaddy record.” Maybe, but some might argue that the ultimate Grandaddy record is the one they rolled out in the year 2000, the grand treatise about the tortured love triangle between mankind, his planet, and the works of his hand. Like the clunky machinery that dots its landscape, The Sophtware Slump may now seem like an outdated relic, but boot it up and you’ll discover it still works wonders.

Wishing you all as much health and happiness as you can muster during this often trying time. With love from Jim, Jason, Aaron and Tim. And Kevin.

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Grandaddy really figured out their sound and worldview with their fantastic second album, featuring frontman Jason Lytle’s absurdist tales of mundanity and stress in our increasingly tech-reliant world, set to a blend of ’90s indie rock, glammy synthphonic flourishes (Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev’s influence loomed large in 2000), and twangy country. The concept album imagines a world full of alcoholic robots, sad computer programmers, lost pilots, stuntman Evil Knevil, and forests made of discarded appliances that Lytle makes relatable with his empathetic style and a hard drive full of earworm spacerock pop…somehow it all sounds even more relevant now than it did in Y2K.

Modesto, CA’s influential indie-rock group Grandaddy celebrates the 20th-anniversary of their classic second LP, 2000’s “The Sophtware Slump” with a brand-new solo piano recording of the album by principal songwriter Jason Lytle. The candid arrangements reveal new layers of meaning embedded in The Sophtware Slump’s melancholy and touching vision of the future. With a meticulous yet scruffy sound that continues to draw comparisons to a post-millennial OK Computer – and which Pitchfork called a “sad, quaint, low-key Y2K-era classic” – The Sophtware Slump, now heard as a solo piano album, is a chance to let the song writing shine.

This is not a record made up of demos or rough sketches; it is a shadow sibling to a record that inspired a generation in the earliest days of the 21st century.

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Releases November 20th, 2020

Written and recorded by Jason Lytle

Grandaddy have announced details of their new studio album, Last Place.

After Grandaddy broke up in 2006, the band’s frontman Jason Lytle relocated to Montana, where he happily made two solo albums, and reconnected with the natural world around him. Eventually, though, life uprooted him again, taking him to Portland, Oregon until he eventually returned to his former home of Modesto, California. The return to California was practical (he needed to be near his bandmates) but also appropriate: he had started writing songs that he felt would be fitting for another Grandaddy album. The result is a perfect addition to the band’s celebrated, critically­ acclaimed catalogue, that includes their breakthrough sophomore album, Sophtware Slump, and their debut, Under the Western Freeway. It’s a symphonic swirl of lo­fi sonics and mile­high harmonies, found sounds and electronics­gone­awry mingling with perfect, power pop guitar tones. Lytle’s voice sounds as warm and intimate as ever,

It’s their first album since 2006’s Just Like the Fambly Cat.

Last Place will be released on March 3rd on Danger Mouse’s Century Records. Produced by the band’s Jason Lytle, it also features Jim Fairchild (guitar), Kevin Garcia (bass), Tim Dryden (keys) and Aaron Burtch (drums).

The band will be making a return to the road in 2017. Tickets for the following shows are on sale Friday, November 4 at 9AM.

March 26 – Newcastle, UK @ Hoults Yard
March 27- Leeds, UK @ Irish Centre
March 28 – Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall
March 29 – Nottingham, UK @ Rock City
March 31 – Bristol, UK @ Colston Hall
April 1 – Brighton, UK @ Concorde 2
April 4 – London, UK @ Roundhouse

It’s been surprising and heartening to see just how many people have been excited about the return of Grandaddy; when they were last a going proposition, they seemed like a band whose critical appeal was perhaps never quite reflected in popularity and/or album sales. Happily, their long-awaited return is likely to satisfy their fanbase; Jason Lytle has lost none of his gift for writing instantly catchy melodies, nor his propensity for grafting those melodies into arrangements that combine laid-back country sounds and electronic instrumentation.

BNQT is made up of members of Midlake, Band of Horses, Travis, Grandaddy and Franz Ferdinand.

In December 2015, we profiled Banquet, a Denton-based band made up of four members of Midlake along with members from Band of Horses, Travis, Grandaddy and Franz Ferdinand. This week their first single, “Restart,” dropped and their full debut album is set to be released on April 28th.

The release, titled Volume 1, marks the first time we’ve heard from the members of Midlake in a while; their last LP came out in 2013. Midlake vocalist and guitarist Eric Pulido was inspired to start BNQT — the spelling has been changed to distinguish them from another band with a similar name

BNQT is the new indie super-group conceived and led by Eric Pulido of Midlake and featuring Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Fran Healy of Travis, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy with backing from other Midlake members McKenzie Smith (drums), Joey McClellan (guitar) and Jesse Chandler (keys).

Pulido was about to become a first-time father, and it seemed like the right time to embark on a new chapter in music as well. He envisioned a group that would channel The Band, for which multiple singers came together to create a new sound. Since Midlake had recorded and performed with artists such as Beth Orton and Jason Lytle before, he thought it would be a natural progression. His Midlake bandmates Joey McClellan, Jesse Chandler and McKenzie Smith agreed and joined up. But don’t mistake BNQT for Midlake 2.

The addition of other famous singers has built anticipation for Volume 1. Pulido wrote and sang on two songs, and the rest of the 10-song album features two songs each from Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Fran Healy of Travis, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy and Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses. The tracks were recorded at Denton’s Redwood Studio, which is owned by McClellan and Smith.

When Pulido reached out Lytle, Healy, Bridwell and Kapranos about the possibility of collaborating, he was careful not to express too many expectations for the project or how it would be made.

“I kind of gave them a blank slate of, ‘We can be as little or as much for you. We can write with you, we can just be your backing band, we’ll help produce things. You can come to Denton. You can do it remotely,’” Pulido says. “I wanted to leave it open to make it as easy and accommodating as possible.” In the end they used a combination of in-person meetings and email to trade rough demos.

“It was a myriad of responses and opinions about what we were doing,” Pulido says. “The guys who came to [Rosewood Studio], Jason and Fran, it was really nice to at least get a great start on the songs with their involvement and production help.”

Everything BNQT recorded made it onto Volume 1, but Pulido is already excited at the thought of making a second record.

“We’ll see,” he says. “We definitely look at it as an organic thing where if these guys wanted to do more, if other people want to join in and do stuff, it could be a bigger album or a whole new set of singers. We’re figuring it out as we go. … It was really out of a labor of love and joy of creating music with people we respect and love.”

In the meantime, BNQT are focusing on promoting their first album. This will likely include live shows at some point, but Pulido says it will take time to coordinate everyone’s schedules.

“They have their own respective bands, respective families and all that. Whatever we do, it will be special and we want all the guys involved.”

BNQT’s Volume 1 will be released April 28th on Dualtone in America and Bella Union in Europe.

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