Oooh, awesomeyawesomeness!! I interviewed Jason Lytle in May 2005, prior to the release of his debut solo record Yours Truly, the Commuter. He told me back then that he had an urge to release, and I paraphrase a little here, ‘a big old mess, littered with half-finished thoughts, experimentation and imperfections’.
I hesitate to proclaim loudly and confidently that this is that very album, but the way Lytle himself describes it suggests that it quite probably is:
“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”.
On the upside ….it has plenty of “Arm of Roger” moments , so those of you who are into “christian-Ween-meets Beavis and butthead meets David Lynch-Mob Gang….you might like some of it.
Actually …it was an attempt to salvage some old left overs and apply my appreciation for Ron Camerons artwork into the music. I must admit there are a few o.k. moments…..but it has absolutely nothing to do with what I am working on for the (my) next album.”
I generally don’t just copy and paste press releases, as you know, but I think everything about that quote helps put this release in context, and explain a little about how we’ve never seen it before. When I was discussing this with Lytle himself he seemed to be twisting his hands with embarrassment at the idea of slapping his listeners about a bit, as he might with a weird, challenging, unusual record. I could sense there was a part of him that wanted to do it, but he also seemed acutely nervous of being seen to take the piss by releasing rubbish material which might leave his fans nonplussed.
Reading the above description, I think that comes across even more clearly. He just seems to have a very awkward relationship with this experimental, unfinished aspect of music. In part he seems to love and embrace it, right down to refusing to become too accomplished at playing his instruments, to prevent his music sounding too slick and characterless.
But then his previous band, Grandaddy rarely released anything that was even remotely half-arsed; experimental and innnovative perhaps, but never unfinished, so he seems to be very much of the opinion that for all buggering about is an important part of the creative process, there is a responsibility to present your fans with considered, well-crafted, finished work at the end of it.
Personally though, however much it seems to have pained him to do so, I am bloody thrilled he’s released this because unfinished or not, it’s fucking awesome. All the quiggly bits, all the fuzzy guitars, the weird atmospherics, the nonsensical lyrics… all the fucking great bits are all left in! There is stuff that sounds very much like it harks back to The Sophtware Slump days, but in an odd way it all hangs together surprisingly well, almost as if it is a ten year path of the same meandering, distracted train of thought, which I suppose in some ways it probably is.
Listening to some of the later Grandaddy stuff like Fambly Cat, as well as to Lytle’s solo work and subsequent project Admiral Radley, I think it’s fair to say that sometimes the desire to refine songs seems to knock some of the life out of them – as if it just rubs off the interesting edges somehow. This album has none of that, and as such feels sprightlier and more alive to my ears. Then again, maybe I just like messy, unfocussed music a bit too much.
It’s possibly one of my favourite albums of the year, this, and it’s not one I ever thought would see the light of day. Good, good times indeed. I wish it was available on vinyl.