Reviews

Grandaddy

Like a string of overhead power lines running endlessly across remote, rolling fields and tree-dotted hills, Grandaddy brings a current of New Wave and prog-rock electricity to its lush, bucolic altcountry. Frontman Jason Lytle is cut from the same cloth as Wilco's Jeff Tweedy in that he's not afraid to tweak and expand their earthy, guitar-driven pop with the kind of eccentric, kid-in-a-candy-store studio geekery associated with guys like Alan Parsons and Dave Fridmann.

On their fourth album, Sumday, the Northern California quintet takes sweet, sun-baked melodies -- the kind of West Coast luminescence that gushed from FM stations in the mid-Seventies -- and fucks with 'em in all sorts of puckish ways. Witness the introductory moments of opener "Now It's On," where banjo meets an ominously buzzing synthesizer as if Jed Clampett had stumbled onto the set of Blade Runner. That gives way to a jaunty power-pop melody that's peppered with goofy keyboard stabs and a distant, Damon Albarn-style "woo-hoo!"

Similarly odd juxtapositions appear throughout the album, though they recede slightly on tracks like "El Caminos in the West" and "Stray Dog and the Chocolate Shake" to allow the group's effortless poignancy and bittersweet lyrics to take center stage. The quintet also plays it mostly straight on the wistful "O.K. With My Decay" and "Lost on Yer Merry Way," both of which will be an absolute joy to any Pernice Brothers fan. It's during these moments when Grandaddy is at its most special and captivating.