Psychedelic ragas, adventurous hooks, and as much zurna as you can handle: “Flying Microtonal Banana” is a trip worth taking from start to finish.
There was a time not long ago when music was simpler. Genres were fairly heterogeneous: alternative, pop, hardcore, hip-hop and so on. In 2017, it’s nearly impossible not to blend subgenres when classifying music. You can have neo-psychedelic meets washed-out disco meets synthwave.
In the early ‘00s, the Modesto-based band Grandaddy was poised to be just another alternative band in the vein of Rooney and Futureheads. However, it’s been nearly 11 years since their last album, and despite the gap in time, Last Place proves there’s always been a complexity and texture in their sound. In short, they’re more than just another alternative rock band.
Formed in 1992, the band consists of Jason Lytle (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Kevin Garcia (bass guitar), Aaron Burtch (drums), Jim Fairchild (guitar) and Tim Dryden (keyboards).
After several self-released records and cassettes, the band signed to Will Records in 1999 and later the V2 subsidiary Big Cat Records in the UK, going on to sign an exclusive deal with V2. The band split in 2006, with members going on to solo careers and other projects. (They reformed in 2012.)
Central themes in Grandaddy’s lyrics include technology, resistance to change and alienation — from others and by oneself — and truly, not much has changed with the new effort. Lytle has always been one to explore a dispirited response to strip malls, school bake sales and the mundane. The LP’s first track, “Way We Won’t,” especially echoes these subjects. The song starts with a typical and spacey Grandaddy sound, characterized by dominant electronic organs, synthesizers and experimental guitar work. Those sonics are accompanied by slow, lengthy lyrical passages of trying to find something real and authentic in a common urban lifestyle. The song moans, “Cinnamon smell and holiday sales/ Why would we ever move?/ Damned if we do/(Dumb if we don’t).”
The rest of the album continues on these themes: it follows someone in the midst of life, growing apart with loved ones, tumultuous, uneasy years, but ultimately recognizing patterns. They become self-aware and try to do the impossible: grow up. Grandaddy has stayed true to form, content and style, despite the hiatus. The LP proves that these themes are universal, persistent and make for a meaningful representation of desolate suburbia and someone so prone to it.»