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Concrete Dunes
Lakeshore Records

Grandaddy are quickly and quietly rising in the world of indie rock. Rising from the less well-known, and under-appreciated, Under The Western Freeway, they rocketed to what amounts to success for an indie band with the release of The Sophtware Slump and the subsequent breaking of the UK Top 40 with its single "The Crystal Lake". It seems inevitable that the Modesto, CA, based band, reaching this level of success after ten years together, and having only released two full length albums, two EPís, and a scattering of singles, would release a compilation highlighting more obscure songs for latecomerís to Grandaddyís art. Thus we have Concrete Dunes, a collection of rarities, imports, previously unreleased, and out of print tracks.

While compilations of this sort often feature little more than live or reworked versions of album tracks, b-sides, and songs that would be better left in the studioís master tape collection, Grandaddy seems to have produced a fairly consistent body of work that deserves to see the light of day (the one downside being that 6 of the 15 tracks are taken from the still available A Pretty Mess By This One Band).

Jason Lytle, often sounding like a warmer version of Mercury Rev front man Jonathan Donahue backed by a more mellow Flaming Lips ensemble, serenades us, par usual, with his abstract, bizarre, yet somehow meaningful lyrics: You didnít really die/although it seems as if you did/why would you have to hide/and who stayed on with you while you hid/through all those silent nights/that silence sure can be real loud/louder than anything ("Why Would I Want To Die"). "12-PAK-599" starts off with our singer begging someone to take his keys because he is, again, too drunk to drive home and tired of running into trees and memories.

Grandaddy are masters at layering their music with little extras: digital chirps, background angelic choruses, and other keyboard effects. Their genius comes in that these extras are not noticed immediately, only appreciated immediately. Listen to the slower parts of "Wretched Songs" and you will notice the immense amount of noise occurring in the background. These tracks apparently gave Grandaddy the training needed for their intricate and perfect use of these types of effects on The Sophtware Slump. While not all the tracks on this album are of the stellar quality and production as those on Slump, they provide a wonderful opportunity to view the band in its infancy. One can see where Grandaddy got the shape of their jaw line and those scars on their forehead.

"Away Birdies With Special Sounds" is nothing more than a beautiful melody and a manís deep and melancholy voice lamenting: I looked everywhere for them, but they gone/I do not know why they have gone away/I do not want them to go away/I woke up in the morning and they were gone/but I do not want them to go away. This song could very easily be re-titled "Away Grandaddy With Special Sounds". I do not want them to go away.

ó Michael Trundle

Track Listing:

  1. Why Would I Want To Die
  2. My Small Love
  3. 12-PAK-599
  4. Wretched Songs
  5. Levitz
  6. For The Dishwasher
  7. Sikh In A Baja VW Baja Bug
  8. Lava Kiss
  9. Fentry
  10. Gentle Spike Resort
  11. Away Birdies With Special Sounds
  12. Kim You Bore Me To Death
  13. Pre Merced
  14. Taster
  15. Egg Hit And Jack Too

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