Music Review

Grandaddy – Blu Wav

todayFebruary 15, 2024 27

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By – Craig Ceravolo

Whenever I get into a car that’s not mine and plug my phone in, the car takes over my music library and Grandaddy’s “A.M. 180” pops up on the screen (my car is old and doesn’t have a screen). It’s on account of the alphabet and what-not (you know how these things work), but it is also a nice announcement of where my musical brain is set at default in a way. Jason Lyte has been making records at the helm of Grandaddy since 1992. They had that 90s indie band trajectory – small band, interesting songs, celebrity shout outs (apparently Bowie & Kate Moss were fans), had a handful of albums ranging from good to AMAZING to ok at the end. They opened for Coldplay for chrissakes.

Under the Western Freeway (1997), The Sophtware Slump (2000) and Sumday (2003) are the go-to trilogy I always suggest as Grandaddy primers. These songs are perfect and Lytle knew how to capture this turn of the century new-fangled “internet” world we just were starting to realize was changing everything and making us lonelier. There are songs presented from the perspective of a computer. They are weirdly heart-breaking and sound like what is now referred to as liminal space. But at the time it didn’t have a name. It was just that uneasy feeling that we are getting too cozy with technology, and it doesn’t love us the way we love it. 

Lytle dissolved the band in 2006 because no one was making any money. Doesn’t really matter if Elliott Smith and Chris Martin bring you out on tour…you still must make a living once those tours are over. Anyway…the rise and fall of an indie band in the early 2000s. That road is littered with Fender Mustangs and trucker hats.

Grandaddy came back to life in 2017 with a new album called Last Place and a slew of re-releases of The Sopftware Slump and Sumday in various iterations. They are a band again, apparently – a subtle return with a distinctly more subdued approach on this year’s Blu Wav.

It’s a mix of Blue Grass and New Wave – which is kind of how I feel Grandaddy has always sort of been. I love a fuzzy acoustic guitar and analog synth with some future-vintage sad sack lyrics. That’s pretty much Grandaddy. This recent batch of songs is that…but slowed to a waltz-pace across the entire album. It’s a self-described “snoozefest” by Lytle with “a ton of pedal steel.” Does that appeal to you? You will get washed in the synth pads and Lytle’s trademark twang (which is odd since he’s from Modesto, CA). I made the mistake of listening to this while I was going to sleep. I was out by the 2nd song. Works as advertised – “snoozefest” indeed.

That sounds like a negative, but it’s not. Grandaddy has always been able to make these little poems about the drudgery of the everyday seem like the most important story ever told. Blu Wav offers this up on plenty of tracks like the drama of snubbed office romance (“Watercooler”) or the ode to what I can only guess are his dogs (“Ducky, Boris and Dart”). It’s slow and deliberate. Apparently, he was inspired after listening to a classic country station driving through the desert at night. That shit will get to you, trust me. 

Lytle recently told an interviewer that his song creation often starts with a clever title. “Yeehaw Ai in the Year 2025” wins. Does it matter what that sounds like? I mean it DOES sound like Ai in the year 2025.  Its unsettling in a way and then you need to remind yourself that that’s next year and not freak yourself out. Enjoy this pedal steel snoozefest. Go sit in a meadow and open your eyes and your laptop to the sunrise. Yes, that’s the opening line to the first and title track. It’s all you need to know about where Blu Wav is headed.

Blu Wav is out today

Written by: Craig Ceravolo

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