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Music Reviews

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Just Like the Fambly Cat

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

May 5, 2006
Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one can have an everlasting, crippling effect on the senses and leave an able bodied person completely lost of any rightful direction. The incomparable Boys II Men perhaps said it best when they sang "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday". You see, yesterday Granddaddy was a thriving rock prophet helmed by a skateboarding, beard wearing, neo-hippy-punk who routinely followed a heightened sense of beautiful love making between guitar, synth and the unwarranted paranoia of technological malfunctions with the preverbal abandonment of his hometown hi-jinks. Granddaddy has left us with a beautiful ceremony in which Jason Lytle has penned his own eulogy - with what are arguably his most accomplished hymns to date - and has crowned a fit heir to the throne of overwhelming pop orchestras with Just Like the Fambly Cat. You, the listener, are invited to attend this bittersweet boat ride down the delicate (and sometimes thunderous) torrent pouring from the mind of a fierce songwriter who has, with out a doubt, maintained a strong portfolio of modern indie rock classics that will probably be well respected for a long time to come.

I whole heartedly believe that Grandaddy's 2000 breakthrough Sophtware Slump to be an instant classic which catapulted Mr. Lytle into the very elite of modern songwriters, his craft easily overshadowing what has become an over-stylized, over-saturated market of bedroom pop poseurs, copy cat distracters and modern rock whiners. Just Like the Fambly Cat is an engrossing compilation of music that is going to make Grandaddy a much more beloved figure in the most respected kind of way.

Just Like the Fambly Cat starts where the Sophtware Slump left off. More chaotic than Sumday and more ambitious than last years Excerpts from the Diary of Todd Zilla EP, the albums first proper song, "Jeez Louise," shining with Grandaddy's signature buzz-opted guitar opening and rocking harder than anything from the ban's back catalog. There are plenty of the ray-gun noise makers and that graceful Neil Young like croon, but lyrically Lytle has changed his focus on an awkward relationship, singing about his girlfriend's mother who doesn't seem to approve of his tender ways as he sings "Jeez Louise you should have avoided me".

Following in the same suite, "Summer…It's Gone" and "RearView Mirror" play to the more sonically explored, aural onslaught while "Where I'm Anymore," "Guide Down Tonight" and "Campershell Dreams" concentrate on Grandaddy's organic, space-folk pop structures, all of which seem to commemorate the beauty and fertility of past albums while maintaining a freshness strong enough to soak the odor out of playing it safe and break any repetitiousness from former congealed compositions.

Driven by new wave and primed for a Volkswagen commercial, "Elevate My Time" stands out from the norm with its Casio keyboard construction. The song's main theme tugs between artistic conformity and the staleness that comes from settling on a social status that is placed on the social norm. Rather than rotting away and "being a part of all the quality that falls apart these days," Lytle suggests moving into a higher position in life and in the first verse speaks clearly of his disregard for those who use music simply for the adoration of fame and money. Shifting gears, he stresses the notion that sitting idly by, doing the nine-to-five and watching the world go by, equates to self deprecation and a spiraling descent into the mediocrity that makes up the bulk of middleclass America.. "I'd rather make an honest sound and watch it fly around and then be on my way."

Through the entire topic of discourse that is riddled throughout Just Like the Fambly Cat, the main components that make this album such a worth while affair are the constant shifts in melodic execution. Nowhere on the album is this more apparent than on "50%," where Lytle curates a hyperactive, punk rock wisecrack, complete with a snotty Ben Weasel whine and a guitar arsenal that displays all of 4 chords before flowing into the sweet sounding "Guide Down Tonight".

Just Like the Fambly Cat truly is a beautiful, imaginative collection of songs that has fulfilled the life of a dying elder, ending the charade that once brought life to a cosmic pop frontiersman and has now been laid to rest. Jason Lytle has perfected his songwriting sensibilities, and perhaps reaching the pinnacle of his craft is what lead to the conclusion of Grandaddy. The final farewell is a revival in classic pop stylings that outshines the typical songsmith with a new perspective on modern song arrangements. There is a driving force in Just Like the Fambly Cat that shows Lytle's motivation to leave behind, not only his home town of Modesto, but the moniker that made a lasting effect as a consequence of participating in life's' experiences - something Grandaddy never seemed to take for granted and something Jason Lytle wore on his sleeve. They will be missed.

Reviewed by Mark Taylor
A senior LAS staff writer, Mark Taylor is a 29 year old father of a 5 year old son and husband to a wife of 6 years, living the simple life in a small suburb of Charlotte, NC.

See other reviews by Mark Taylor



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