For indie music fans of a specific age, Grandaddy were a seminal act. In the first half of the first decade of the twenty-first century, the low-key mix of synthesizers, alt-country, and loss from main man Jason Lytle were an essential bridge between the indie-rock of the nineties and the indietronica of this new millennium (plus defining the Los Angeles indie music scene that would become synonymous with Silver Lake). But it all took its toll on Lytle & the group, plus the financial implosion of the music industry, leading to a break-up around 2006’s Just Like the Fambly Cat. Lytle & the rest went on to do other work, including solo material from Lytle as well as teaming up with Earlimart (QRO spotlight on) as Admiral Radley (QRO album review), but the shadow of Grandaddy was never far away.
2012 saw the band reunite for a few shows here and there, and very slowly, Lytle has produced a new Grandaddy record, Last Place. While in some way still seeped in a decade-plus ago, it has powerful, low-key effectiveness.
As befits an act that began in intimate solo recording sessions, Last Place definitely feels personal, but there is a relax to it, matter-of-fact nature, that still manages not to draw away from its intensity. Opening pieces “Way We Won’t” & “Brush With the Wild” and closing numbers “A Lost Machine” & “Songbird Son” deliver this most effectively. However, there are also cheery ditties about sad subjects (“The Boat Is In the Barn”, “I Don’t Wanna Live Here Anymore”), pure sweetness (“That’s What You Get For Gettin’ Outta Bed”), and the pressing uncertainty, even desperation, to “Chek Injin”.
Reunion records get rated on whether the band was good enough to reunite in the first (check), whether they’re still relevant & beloved today (check), and whether the new albums manage to both retain what was good while not being a retread (check). Checks across the board, Grandaddy.