Thursday, June 24, 2010

Daily Nugget #7: Admiral Radley, "I Heart California"

In the late 90s I was pretty obsessed with Grandaddy, a band that sounded like a mellow, funny chocolate/peanut butter combination of Pavement and Radiohead. They made pastoral low-fi epics about crying drunken robots and other conflicts between nature and technology, and while their last couple records sacrificed invention for a more streamlined sound, their best work was always melodic and usually funny or sad (or both). Filtering classic rock song forms through glitchy synthesizers and hissing tapes, their music sounded old and new at the same time. Lack of success broke up the band in 2006, but it wasn't a surprise when frontman Jason Lytle announced a solo career and moved from his native Modesto to Montana. The change of scenery seems to have done him good; his first release, Yours Truly, The Commuter maintained Grandaddy's sonics and lyrical concerns, but with noticeably more energy than the latter's later work. Now Lytle has teamed up with one of his former bandmates and members of Earlimart as Admiral Radley, and they have a new album coming out in July entitled I Heart California. As a preview, here's the title track. It's a funny mock-tribute to the Golden State, one of Lytle's most enduring themes (for more brilliant California-bashing, cf. Grandaddy's 2005 EP Excerpts From The Diary Of Todd Zilla).

Hint: Track down as many Grandaddy b-sides as you can.

"I Heart California":


  1. I think Grandaddy is one of those bands that you feel uncomfortable about sharing for fear of a sideways glance and one raised eyebrow. It's like a contemporary guilty pleasure. I still listen to Sumday but I rarely say 'hey, you've gotta hear this band'. As for Admiral Radley, it's sweet but it's one of those sad situations where I'd rather hear the next generation of Grandaddy-influenced bands. Thee More Shallows for instance. I think Admiral Radley suffers from a lack of Granddyesque trite keyboard hooks. Musically, the misty hushed vocal was only half the appeal. On a positive note, they've retained that ability to make the listener swallow bitter sentiment by covering it with sugar.

  2. I'll have to check out Thee More Shallows. I've heard the Admiral Radley album now, and it sounds pretty much exactly like what one would expect: a combination of Grandaddy and Earlimart. No big surprises, but it's pretty good.