Grandaddy - Under the Western Freeway (Bigcat/Will)
Grandaddy they tell us in the blurb wear beards and ride on skateboards.
Picture then ZZ Top on a half-pipe with only four wheels under their feet.
Try not to want them to fall, and then think back again to Granddaddy.
Of course Granddaddy probably look nothing like ZZ Top, but the album sleeve
is a minimalist affair with no pictures - so I've no idea who they do resemble.
The blurb tells us to listen out for the Pixies, or ELO, or even Hank
Williams. It tells us they sound like Pavement, even though if they resemble
anyone, it's Sebadoh.
Confused - you won't be - just sit back and listen to Granddaddy in all their
laid-back glory. These bearded skate-boarders aren't really that bad, in
fact they are quite brilliant.
Perfect in their inability to sing or play their instruments, they are
definitely the best exponents of lo-fi yet. Very American and very basic,
they do follow in the foot-steps of the Pavements of this world, but they
are consistently better.
The first two tracks set the standard. The first "Nonphenomenal
Lineage" (why do they always have to have weird names) is a fruity
countryish lament on mediocrity. It almost has echoes of Simon and
Garfunkel, but it's so diverse that it could never be that naff.
The second "A.M. 180" sounds tropical with laughably bad key-boards
but a slick beat - the low-key lyrical style of the singer blends with the
rest of the band's simple background. This is the most like Sebadoh of all
the songs, but much more catchy and addictive.
Only problem is that the standard the first two set is almost too high. Track
three brings them down a peg or two, but after that things keep going back up
again. Until the end, when you want to go asleep - thankfully the bonus
track consists of couple of minutes of the sound of crickets.
by Kenneth Foxe