The Grandaddy of underrated bands
California indie rock quintet Grandaddy has been receiving a respectable buzz from underground rock fans and critics.
These touring veterans from the suburbs of Modesto, Calif. have finally gotten the spotlight from the national indie rock arena.
For those who don’t know, the band offers a ripe and reflective sound that separates them from the rest of the juvenile rock landscape.
Grandaddy is fronted by singer/ songwriter/ guitarist/ keyboardist Jason Lytle.
His voice is honest, real, and perhaps best described as a cross between Rivers Cuomo of Weezer and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.
The rhythm section is composed of bassist Kevin Garcia and drummer Aaron Burtch.
Together with guitarist Jim Fairchild and keyboardist Tim Dryden, Grandaddy has no trouble writing songs that extend musically beyond the scope of repetitive mainstream radio.
Although the band has released an impressive ten records, it was not until the unexpected underground victory of its 2000 venture, The Sophtware Slump that would make the band’s follow-up record, Sumday, a highly anticipated success. With influences ranging from the Flaming Lips to Radiohead, Grandaddy’s capricious melodies juggle innovative essentials of space-rock and alt-country textures.
Sumday begins with the album’s first single “Now It’s On.”
With deconstructed piano tracks, soft guitar washes and serene vocals, Lytle sings peculiar lyrics of technological references that are followed by the extensive chorus: “Bust the lock of the front door/ Once you’re outside you won’t wanna hide anymore.”
“El Camino In The West” showcases the quintet’s musical experimentation. The song offers mid-tempo rhythms, droning guitars and simmering synthesizer textures that significantly exhibit the band’s musical range.
Lytle crosses into the realm of alt-country with the song’s eccentric lyrics: “From El Caminos in the West/ All collapsed and futureless/ I’ll paint the words a simple wish/ For peace of mind and happiness.”
For Lytle, songwriting is a unique and intimate process that varies with atmosphere and recent experiences. Although the California native has always openly discussed lyrics and song meanings, Lytle admits to keeping some of the band’s more fundamental elements out of plain view.
“I’m hesitant to elaborate on the less obvious, for fear of detracting from what I consider to be a primary component of music: the unexplainable, the intangible, and the mysterious,” Lytle said on the band’s Web site.
Since Lytle describes Modesto as “a s—hole for places to play,” Grandaddy has focused its attention on playing for the rest of the world.
The band has managed to score positioning on the roster of such prestigious events as England’s Reading Festival and other European festivals.
“After touring with many different bands, we realize what an oddity we are, simply due to being civil to each other and the people around us.”
The band was recently awarded a silver record for their staggering album sales in the UK.
With ten albums under their belt, as long as the band follows in the same path, there is no telling what this California indie rock quintet can accomplish in the future.
Grandaddy performs at Jannus Landing on Wednesday, March 17 at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $20.