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Just Like the Fambly Cat

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Album Review

Grandaddy's final album serves as a timely reminder of the group's strengths, as they manage to pull themselves out of the slump they were in and deliver a fine epitaph. Their previous album, Sumday, was a disappointment, a definite comedown from the heights of Sophtware Slump. It sounded like the work of a band coasting along without any commitment to the material — a good band with some fine songs, but still failing to live up to its potential. Just Like the Fambly Cat sounds like the work of a band with something to prove, maybe due to the tensions that led to the band breaking up before the album's release, or perhaps resulting from the realization that the bandmembers had been wasting their talent. Certainly "Jeez Louise," the fiery rocker that kicks off the album, dispels any fear that the record might be as laid-back and detached as Sumday was at its core. So do the handful of similarly energetic tunes like the new wavey instrumental "Skateboarding Saves Me Twice," the cheesy drum machine-driven "Elevate Myself," and the surging "Disconnecty." The diversity of sounds on the album is nice and keeps things interesting on the surface, but what really jump-starts the proceedings are two things: first, the sheer tunefulness of the midtempo songs like the wistful "Summer... It's Gone," "Campershell Dreams," and "This Is How It Always Starts," which drift like autumn leaves blowing across front lawns, blown gently along by gentle vocal harmonies, richly layered guitars, cheap keyboards, and Jason Lytle's fragile vocals; and second, the epic sweep of the ballads like "Guide Down Tonight," the guitar blowout "Rear View Mirror," and "The Animal World." There is a depth of emotion and seriousness here that had been missing on Sumday, Lytle's vocals have a gravity they lacked before, and the bandmembers seem to mean every note they play this time. Not that sincerity means much when there are no melodies you can hum in the shower — here you get both. Grandaddy's breakup seemed like an afterthought when it was announced a couple months before the release of Fambly Cat; now it seems like a real shame, like they will be missed. Hopefully whatever incarnation the various members (and especially Lytle) resurface in can produce work this rich and powerful. If not, at least Grandaddy managed to go out on a very high note.


Formed: 1992 in Modesto, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The solar-powered space pop combo Grandaddy were formed in 1992 in Modesto, CA, by singer/guitarist/keyboardist Jason Lytle, bassist Kevin Garcia, and drummer Aaron Burtch. Although a noisy, lo-fi approach characterized early recordings like 1994's Complex Party Come Along Theories, the addition of guitarist Jim Fairchild and keyboardist Tim Dryden in 1995 expanded the band's sound exponentially, fueling such subsequent efforts as the unreleased Don't Sock the Tryer and the 1996 EP A Pretty Mess...
Full Bio
Just Like the Fambly Cat, Grandaddy
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