First things first, per the request of the artist. This is not Jason Lytle's "new album", but it is a new album by Jason Lytle. Best to let him describe it per his website:"Here is this new CD. It's not a proper "full length album" that will be promoted , toured, talked about, or even acknowledged as "interesting " by me.
So far......I have been describing it to my friends as " a bunch of shit".....or "a reason to clean up my desktop"......or....."something that better not be called my next fucking album because I really dont know if I like any of it".
Point taken. For long time fans of Grandaddy, this release is akin to their hard to find release "The Windfall Varietal". Some leftovers, some unreleased material, some unfinished ideas and some fooling around in the studio. It was all done to accompany an art show put on by Lytle's childhood friend Ron Cameron. A very limited number were pressed, Lytle is gracious enough to share it with his fans and once they're gone, they're gone.
So all of this needs to be taken into consideration when "reviewing" this release. Yet, even when he is putting out a "bunch of shit" as he calls it, Lytle still packs it full of enough interesting moments to satisfy fans and curiosity seekers. The CD opens with "Waiting For My Phone To Dry", a slow instrumental with strummed acoustic guitar over a basic drum pattern, bassline and keyboard effects that is revisited in the middle of the album as "My Phone is Still Wet", and at the end as "Still Waiting For My Phone To Dry". It's a lovely, atmospheric piece, very reminiscent of some of the slower stuff on last year's solo debut "Yours Truly, The Commuter". There are a couple other instrumental pieces on here, including "Dismantle/Rebuild", which uses the piano melody from "I am Lost (And The Moment Cannot Last)" off of 'Commuter'.
The vocal material is even more interesting. The gem here is "At The Mall At Klamath Falls", an unreleased Grandaddy song from 2000. The song has been circulating amongst collectors but it is nice to see it get an official, albeit limited, release in perfect quality. The lyric is a great, twisted look at a typical, mundane mall in Anywhere, USA with different breeds of dogs filling in for the type of people who frequent such places. Musically the song fits in well with many of the Grandaddy B-Sides from that time, acoustic guitar and weird keyboard sounds and effects augment Lytle's story.
Another Grandaddy B-Side that was released, the wonderful "The Town Where I'm Livin' Now", appears on this release as well. It doesn't seem to be an alternate version from what was released on the "I'm On Standby" CD single, however. What is an alternate version is a different take on the Admiral Radley track "I Heart California", here called "I Love CA (Intersection Vendor Ending)". This is a solo Lytle performance on the piano with an extended ending of electronic whirrs and noise.
"Birds Build Nests In Letters" is full of Lytle's signature, sighing "ah ah's" in the background while he has a dialogue with a robotic voice that answers his examples of boring corporate stores and restaurants with birds. Example: "M is for Macy's and McDonalds/"M is for magpie". Sound silly? Maybe, yet the beautiful melody makes the damn thing work as a lesson to look at the more beautiful things in life.
"Liquid Hyper Tweeker Energy Drinks" is a much more electronic track, with a hip hop beat and Lytle's voice drowned in echoed effects. Musically, I'd love to hear him do more tracks like this on future proper albums. He's always done his share of offbeat, sillier tracks so this song also stands out here on its own, for the music alone.
The funniest thing by far here is "Indie Rock Freestyle", a totally improvised song about "Jakeff", whose parents came up with his name by combining the names Jakob and Jeff. It's a three minute track with stream of consciousness lyrics that is freaking hilarious, yet you will not be able to stop humming the damn thing after hearing it. "D.U.I. BBQ Checkpoint" is another riot. These are the moments that endear Lytle to his fans. As much great, serious, heart wrenching, emotional music as he has produced in his career, he never takes himself too seriously with this side of his music that he shares.
As a fan and collector of any artist, these are the kind of release you love to see. Something to help quench your thirst in between "proper" releases. "Music Meant To Accompany The Art of Ron Cameron" is fun, funny, at times lovely, and a must have for fans of Grandaddy and Jason Lytle. Again, this was a very limited pressing so get it before it is gone for good.