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coverpic flag Mare Smythii - Full Moon 102 - 01/25/05

Various Artists
Artist's Choice: Grandaddy - Below the Radio
Ultra Records

A special collection this one as it is put together by Jason Lytle of (to quote allmusic.com) "solar-powered space-pop combo" Grandaddy. What teased my curiosity for checking this out was the brand new Grandaddy song ending the record. Coming as a fore-taste of what we might expect when a new Grandaddy album arrives this spring. Plus, of course, I was eager to check out the artists recommended by Lytle, with personal liner notes guiding the chosen tracks. One might hope for a platter of lytle pop gems...

Of the 14 other tracks included most bands/artists are familiar. So are the songs, as they're picked from albums taken from the last decade. In fact all the tracks (except Grandaddy's "Nature Anthem") are to be found elsewhere. But I guess the goal's not exclusiveness. It's more a quality thing. Okay, the content then. Pavement presents the oldest track on the sampler with their "Motion Suggests" (off Wowee Zowee, 1995). Other familiar songs are: Beck's opener "We Live Again" (off Mutations, 1998), Beulah's "Burned By The Sun" (from their platter The Coast is Never Clear, 2001), Blonde Redhead and their fragile beauty "For the Damaged" (taken from the brilliant album Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, 2000), Giant Sand's "Bottom Line Man" (off Chore of Enchantment, 2000), The Handsome Family with their dark and brooding song "I Fell" (off Through the Trees, 1998), and Snow Patrol's touching indiepop-drama "Run" (Final Straw, 2003). With Scot-poppers Snow Patrol being the only representative from outside the USA. Well, I'd like to focus on some of the songs new to me in stead.

Of course there is melancholia all over. The moods of this album, and the songs on it, are in the true spirit of what Grandaddy's about. Dazed and tranquile songs, blissful parklife-in-the-nighttime pop. Californinan Earlimart's "Color Bars" (The Avenues EP, 2003) play dark pop, up the vein Yo La Tengo. Or, think Radiohead meets Grandaddy for an afternoon chill-out long drink. Goldenboy's "Wild Was The Night" (Blue Swan Orchestra, 2002) is also quite Grandaddy-ish, especially the sound, mainly the keys. Chicago-combo Fruit Bats play the laid-back psyche-rocker "The Little Acorn" (Mouthfuls, 2003), which is more anonymous and forgettable to my pair of ears. Then comes Tampa, Forida, lofi quartet Home with "Comin' Up Empty Again" (XIV, 1999), which is a fine indie popper (Pavement-style). Charming and proper, nothing more. Jackpot "If We Could Go Backwards" (from their album F+, 2004) is one of the highlights picked by Lytle. A noisy, swaying piece of delicately arranged, played and sung indie-rock.

Then comes another Californian gang, Little Wings with "Sand Canyon" (from their album Discover Worlds of Wonder, 1999). Little Wings also play slack rock up the Pavment-alley. But it works quite well, and makes me wanna check out more of their music. Later. Definitely. Then there's yet another Californinan - Virgil Shaw (formerly of Dieselhead), performing his "Twisted Layer" (taken from Quad Cities, 2000). An acoustic song with a slightly twisted sound, but a fine melody. Very neat. And, yes, finally...Grandaddy with "Nature Anthem", which is (according to Jason Lytle) a song paying tribute to being outdoors. The lyrics as well as the song itself being quite simple and naive. A bit humoresque. Tongue in cheek? As Jason says: "I got some help with the singing by a bunch of kids in front of the campfire. Oh yeah... and we were all swaying side to side as we sang it.". Hmm, yeah, well... I'm not sure what to think about the upcoming album. Let's just say Jason Lytle had a nice break putting together this collection of fave tracks. And puffing along with his guitar by the campfire enjoying the great outdoors. I'll be around when the new album peek out.

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