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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Just Like the Fambly Cat

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

May 5, 2006
Set on fire with some of the most brilliant power-pop blazes the band has ever produced, Grandaddy's tomb sails out to sea with this Viking funeral of a send-off. Waving good-bye from shore, hardcore devotees and casual appreciators will be comforted by the knowledge that Grandaddy didn't die in vain. Valhalla is Jason Lytle's destination, and even if he's never heard from again, his reputation as the great bearded king - I don't recognize the new clean-shaven masquerade - of wistful, wide-eyed, rapturous space-pop is secure.

When it's just a speck on the horizon, Just Like the Fambly Cat will be fondly remembered as the quintessential Grandaddy album, a Jason Lytle joint that somehow managed to please everybody without really trying. That was something the commercial and artistic flop that was Sumday couldn't do. Another difficult birth that wound up actually killing Grandaddy this time, Just Like the Fambly Cat swerves recklessly from radiation-burnt rockers like "Jeez Louise," with its squirrelly electronic twitter, and "50%," a punched-up blast of punk, into swaying, sun-dappled hayfields of melody like "Campershell Dreams" and "Where I'm Anymore," with its quirky chorus of meows and delightfully lazy instrumentation. A song about dislocation and loss of identity, "Where I'm Anymore" is pure pop gold, with its easy string movements and sparkling guitar providing calming contrast to the nervous uncertainty and longing in the lyrics. Though to be fair, it almost sounds like a love song dedicated to the wonderfully strange living environment of Lytle's native California, surprising considering his recent move to Montana and his double-barreled critique of the state's rampant commercialism in Excerpts Of The Diary Of Todd Zilla.

Where Sumday sabotaged its own ambition by trying to have it both ways with arrangements that were both radio-friendly and just plain weird, Just Like the Fambly Cat does a simple about face and returns to traditional Lytle values. If you've been gazing at the skies or dumpster-diving behind computer stores looking for signs of a Sophtware Slump revival, Lytle rewards your patience with the beautifully contoured "The Animal World," a wandering, space-pop epic laid on a waterbed of acoustic guitar strum and keyboard waves. A feast for the senses, "The Animal World," with its shooting-star synthesizers and benign animal chattering, is a night under the stars that segues into the cheery instrumental sunrise "Skateboarding Saves Me Twice," the closest Grandaddy has ever sounded to Daft Punk. Hiding in the bush, you'll find the melancholic acoustic folk of "Summer...It's Gone," a song seemingly connected by an umbilical cord to Sophtware Slump, as is the vaporous "Guide Down Denied."

Perhaps the most bi-polar record Grandaddy has ever made, Just Like the Fambly Cat lacks the cohesive flow of what is considered the band's finest hour, the never-ending dreamscape that was the Sophtware Slump. Delicate piano plays with blistering, ADD guitar. Keyboards that sound hot-wired, over-driven and crunchy in a track like "Disconnecty" will decompress and sigh like all of heaven exhaling in "This Is How It Always Starts." There's room for infectious Casio-toned pop nuggets like "Elevate Myself," a modern take on Ralph Waldo Emerson's back-to-nature empowerment trip, and dying, incidental piano music and adorable children repeatedly asking, "What happened to the fambly (sic) cat?" until they're drowned out by a meltdown coda.

"I don't want to drift no more," sings Lytle in "Guide Down Denied," and it sounds like a mission statement. Freed from the pressures of running the Grandaddy franchise, Lytle may find happiness and serenity in the woods, and that could translate into more frequent recording activity from our favorite former skateboarder. Or, perhaps 20 years from now, we'll see Lytle on the news in handcuffs, arrested for threatening corporate kingpins with anthrax-laced letters or releasing animals targeted for testing makeup or perfume products. Whatever the case, if this is Lytle's last musical missive, he's left us with a complete, if unfocused, dossier of his genius.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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