The Sophtware Slump

Grandaddy

V2 Records, 2000

http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandaddy

REVIEW BY: Jedediah Pressgrove

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/15/2010

I am not familiar with Grandaddy’s overall discography, but The Sophtware Slump is a delightful album that bears similarities to 2002’sYankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco’s masterpiece. Both albums fully utilize the studio to produce sounds that otherwise would not exist. When listening to either album, one may get the sense, however faint, that roots music was somehow important to the development of the band (now that I think about it, Grandaddy singer Jason Lytle sometimes sounds like Neil Young). And perhaps the most attractive and strangest thing about both albums is that they’re full of pop songs that seem broken and thus not entirely suited for mass consumption.

“Broken Household Appliance National Forest” – what a great song title – is exemplary of these traits, but it also highlights the differences in approach between Grandaddy and Wilco. Lytle’s songwriting tends to be more humorous and concept-based. “Broken Household Appliance National Forest” follows the common theme of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Sophtware Slump, that is, the problematic effects of technology on nature and humankind. The rhyming lines “Air conditioners in the woods” and “Mud and metal mixing good” are indeed funny, especially considering that Lytle simply sings “Broken household appliance national forest” before each line, but they also demonstrate the nasty aftermath of convenience and consumerism. Style-wise, the band shifts from a folksy and atmospheric verse to a chorus that is almost dumb because of its adherence to the rules of 1990s alternative rock. But the first chorus fades, and you get the feeling the whole thing is already over before the verse/chorus pattern repeats, only in less time, with a closing guitar solo that should have been in the middle of the song – or perhaps cut altogether.

This is Oddball Shit indeed, and to be completely honest, it was only odder for me given that my rarely used name appears in not one but two song titles: “Jed The Humanoid” and “Jed’s Other Poem (Beautiful Ground).” Jed is an android who dies from drinking too much (“But Jed’s system’s dead / Therefore so is Jed”). Again, funny but poignant and, of course, illustrative of the times that may come.

And how about opening an album of generally concise material with the nine-minute “He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot”? Somehow I didn’t mind hearing “Are you giving in, 2000 Man?” about a dozen times during what appears to be a deliberate Pink Floyd trance. Plus, you’re promptly awarded with the following song, “Hewlett’s Daughter,” with its propulsive bass and brief disintegrations into noise.

Grandaddy’s sophomore effort is a rather enjoyable artistic statement that, unfortunately, has not received the attention it deserves. I would argue it’s more relevant than it was 10 years ago. Our Facebook culture isn’t so different from “Miner At The Dial-A-View,” in which a character is detached from what’s important and real because of a machine that allows one to view the coordinates of the world.

Rating: A

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© 2010 Jedediah Pressgrove and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of V2 Records, and is used for informational purposes only.