We all had a childhood ‘get through the hard times’ band. We were all angsty teenagers at some point – not many of us can say we didn’t have a band or song we immediately listened to when we needed to get rid of all that built up puberty and energy. For me, that band was Grandaddy.
Coincidentally enough, the band was formed by frontman Jason Lytle in 1992, the year I was born. Their sound is a warm mixture of straightforwardly electronic keyboard lines, lightly distorted guitar patterns, and lo-fi voice filters. Lytle’s voice can best be described as a slow lull – while the combined warmth and fuzz of the instrumentals sinks in, the soft vocals tuck you in and give off a feeling of safety and comfort. Generally, songs tend to range in subject from heartbreak to aliens crash landing on lakes to being alright with aging. The sound and lyrics together give us a feeling of space exploration blanketed over rural America – definitely not something we hear everyday, and especially not something we hear in the current indie music climate.
Unfortunately, the band broke up after their fourth studio album in 2006. This was a result of a number of factors including some communication problems between band members, but the driving force of the split seemed to be the band’s unwillingness to conform to the traditional ins and outs of the music business. Because of this, the members were simply not making enough money to support themselves, and regardless of their dedicated following and positive feedback from the music community, each embarked on their own ventures outside of Grandaddy.
As of March 2012, they have reformed for a limited number of shows, including this year’s Outside Lands festival and a smaller show at the Independent.
Grandaddy is an incredibly unique act – I certainly haven’t heard a fusion of psychedelia, indie, pop, and country like this since I was a stupid kid writing stupid things on walls with paint pens and putting way too much distortion on my shitty guitar. Their sound has aged wonderfully. Lytle’s voice and lyrics are as poignant as ever:
In truth I say
With my decay
I have no choice
I have no voice
Grandaddy will play from 5:10-6:10 on Saturday at the Sutro Stage.