Friday, June 12, 2009

Grandaddy. The Sophtware Slump (V2, 2000)

“Last night something pretty bad happened, we lost a friend, all shocked and broken, shut down exploded.”

Formed in 1992, Grandaddy really nailed the Y2K zeitgeist with their particular brand of hippie-robot-rock. In my opinion, they hit their peak on 2000’s Sophtware Slump, a gorgeous landscape of techno-waste featuring android poets, emoting machinery, and a forest full of rusting abandoned appliances. It’s a bleak landscape, to be sure, but in lyricist and lead singer Jason Lytle’s capable hands, it’s a place you won’t mind visiting for the duration of Sophtware Slump.

Beginning with a lush 9-minute (yes, 9-minute) space-trip-opera, you’ll find yourself traveling along with 2000 Man in “He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot.” Before you write this off as hippie bullshit (I know, it’s tempting; Lytle is a little too into hackey-sacking-back-packing for my taste, and I’m pretty sure he rides his bike barefoot, but all of that aside) just give it a chance and try not to be swept into 2000 Man’s world.

Once there, you’ll next meet “Hewlett’s Daughter,” leaving a trail of broken hearts in her digital wake as the machine-pocalypse unfolds. With lazy drums, occasionally crashing guitars, and un-parse-able lyrics, it’s probably safe to presume Grandaddy was pretty high while recording this record, and it makes for pretty fun listening.

“Jed The Humanoid” tells the sad tale of a robot created from spare parts, initially loved, ultimately abandoned by his creators, and finally destroyed by alcoholism. Go ahead and laugh, but I promise you will never be more moved by an alcoholic android’s story. Seriously, on the right day, this song can make me cry. But don’t worry, you’re spirits will be lifted with “The Crystal Lake”’s synth-lament for simpler times.

“Chartsengrafs” is one of the harder rocking songs on this record, with driving drums and guitars. It’s followed by “Underneath The Weeping Willow,” a simple piano/vocal combo, which serves as a sweet rest stop before you are dropped into the “Broken Household Appliance National Forest,” the catchiest anthem on global warming you’ll ever sing along to.

Next up is a posthumous poem from our ill-fated humanoid friend Jed about his descent into destruction, appropriate titled “Jed’s Other Poem”: “You said I’d wake up dead drunk/ Alone in the park/ I called you a liar/ But how right you were.” The “E. Knievel Interlude” is a quick synth-bit on the way to meeting the “Miner At The Dial-A-View.” I’ve listened to this song an awful lot, and I’m still not sure exactly what the “Dial-A-View” is, but I am sure our miner has been stuck there for a really long time (forgive the cheesy spoken interlude obviously provided by one of Grandaddy’s girlfriends).

“So You’ll Aim Toward The Sky” rounds out Sophtware Slump on a hopeful note, albeit a note that sounds a bit about colonizing a new planet to replace this dump called Earth that humans have wrecked. Okay, so Grandaddy’s enviro-evangelizing is pretty fierce on this records, but keep in mind this was waaaaaaay back in 2000 before Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore made it cool to give a shit about planet Earth. So put on your time-travel helmet, and just give in to the hippies already. It’s so beautifully crafted, you’ll be hard-pressed to fight it.

Sadly, Grandaddy broke up in 2006, with Jason Lyttle relocating to Montana, ostensibly to live a simpler, greener life, or whatever. Thankfully, he left a trail of great Grandaddy records, including the genius Sophtware Slump, in his wake. -- Anneke Chy