Jason assembless some Lytle wonders
Blame the terrible march of ‘progress’, but thanks to the rise of the iPod, that long-standing staple of music-sharing culture, the mixtape, is fast tumbling into obsolescence. Trust Grandaddy, who throughout their career have done their best to moderate modernity with calculated melody, to come to the rescue. Whereas it’s now de rigueur for artists to compile discs of their influences, Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle is seemingly guilty of the converse, packing ‘Below the Radio’ with every guitar-toting drifter who’s ever picked up a Grandaddy LP and thought: “Psychedelic Americana? Now there’s a fucking career, dude.”
Lytle’s logic is that the best songs never get that singles push, thus this is the sound of the underdog, including the forgotten tracks from the best artists (Beck, Pavement, Blonde Redhead), and the best of the forgotten (Little Wings, Goldenboy and Virgil Shaw). From the bottom-of-the-tumbler musings of Giant Sand’s Howe Gleb to the lugubrious harmonies of Fruit Bats’ ‘The Little Acorn’ – it’s clear that Lytle is interested in uncovering those dusty little gems, hitherto unappreciated by all but a few Yankee scenesters.
Oddly, alongside all this obscure Americana, Snow Patrol’s ‘Run’ fits in comfortably – transmuted from shameless indie-opera to a lonely highway ballad capable of sending an army of tear-blinded truckers careering towards the hard shoulder. The one duff note comes care of The Handsome Family, whose dirgey ‘I Fell’ sounds like a pack of Georgian monks locked in a log cabin with just a piano and a few barrels of bourbon for company.
But it’s the one new Grandaddy track that’s cause for a celebratory hillbilly hoe-down. Opening with the woosh-woosh-woosh of reverse drumming, ‘Nature Anthem’ is the men from Modesto, CA having a stab at that most unappreciated of genres – the campfire song. As a rule, having a choir of watery-nosed tykes singing along to the chorus is a sin (look at me when I’m talking to you Mr Hawkins), but Grandaddy, through sheer force of their weirdy-beardy charm, just about pull it off.