With the surprise announcement of a reunited Grandaddy headlining a night at the End Of the Road Festival in the UK in September, and the potential of a small run of additional shows for the indie rock favorites, 2012 is shaping up to be a busy year for Jason Lytle. He is also slated to release his second solo album since disbanding Grandaddy with "Department Of Disappearance" scheduled for a spring/summer release on Anti- Records. Hopefully that will be followed by some shows to help promote one of my most anticipated albums of the year.
Lytle just finished up a low key trek through Australia in February, sight-seeing and playing some shows along the way. To help commemorate the tour, he recorded this little CD, pressed in a very limited quantity, to sell while on the tour and it has instantly become one of the rarest items for Grandaddy/Lytle collectors to obtain. "Yankee Dirtbag" was recorded completely live in-studio and features six songs, along with hilarious in between song banter between Lytle and his buddy Bob as they attempt to get in as much Australian slang as possible during their conversation.
The first track on the CD will pleasantly surprise long time Grandaddy fans as he pulls out "Why Glider Pilot?" for an acoustic guitar version. Although this song has circulated amongst fans for some time, it was never officially released. Lytle jokes after the performance that Bob, who requested he play it, is "trying to be one of those mega-fans with like the obscure request that only three other people in the whole audience know of." Lytle then heads to the piano for a gorgeous rendition of "Yeah Is What We Had" from Grandaddy's brilliant 2003 release "Sumday". Stripping the song of its heavy guitar, electronics and drums reveals a tender piano ballad and it may just be my favorite performance on here.
Lytle moves to his pump organ for the next two songs, a cover of Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings" and Grandaddy's "So You'll Aim Toward The Sky". He mentions his pump organ is pink but "I don't like to introduce it to people as my pink pump organ because that sounds disgusting."
The CD closes out with a preview of the forthcoming new album as two new songs are performed. "Your Final Setting Sun" is set to be another in a long line of epic Lytle ballads, this one about the end of someone's life. Here it is performed on electric guitar with a looped sample that plays in parts throughout the song. The studio version is said to be as grandiose and majestic as anything he has done. Lytle jokes while introducing the song, "By the time I make it to Australia and I sell the CD at the merchandise table, you guys can take great satisfaction in knowing that it's not released in America yet. Possibly not ever, yeah I might end up dying in a plane crash back home from Australia and this will be the only time it's ever been heard by anybody on any continent! Anywhere! Wouldn't that be a corker?" Below is a video of Lytle performing the song in Portland from January of this year.
The final song performed is the title track, "Department Of Disappearance", played on piano. Once again, Lytle has written a heart achingly beautiful melody and lyric, one of many reasons he continues to be my favorite songwriter. It's tough to be objective when someone writes music you can so easily relate to. 'You'll never get away with this, you'll never get away with me/ I'll crawl into the mountains, I'll fall into obscurity/ a phantom on the landscape, a memory of what used to be' he sings as he seems to touch on feelings of disgust with the music business expressed in the wake of Grandaddy's split and his move from Modesto, California. My interpretation may be off, but it seems to sum up Lytle's refreshed state of mind since moving to Montana. Anytime things get too overwhelming and he's not having fun with music, he can easily fade into the surroundings he loves so much.
Much like the "Music Meant To Accompany The Art Of Ron Cameron" CD from 2010, this is another fun limited release for fans until the next proper album comes out. Unfortunately, only a couple hundred were pressed and they sold out on the tour, so obtaining a copy will be next to impossible unless some pop up on Ebay for sale. And I imagine if they do, they'll be pricey, but worth it to avid Grandaddy/Lytle collectors. He has always been incredibly generous with his music, allowing concerts and studio tapes to be shared on his website, so don't be surprised if some type of download is eventually offered. Keep your eyes peeled on the Talkscape message board and Lytle's official site, you never know what kind of goodies may show up.