Under Review: Admiral Radley – I Heart California

Okay, okay, you got me.  Yes, Admiral Radley is a new band made up of members of established bands (only one of which is still around), so I guess my love for this album transcends my previous smack about supergroups.  What makes Admiral Radley and their debut album, I Heart California, so enjoyable and less gimmicky is the fact that the featured songs bring the best from all four members.  This isn’t Todd Rundgren fronting some resurrected version of The Cars, this is half of Grandaddy and both members of Earlimart getting together to pen all new material that is just as strong as anything in either band’s catalogue.  The songwriting is split just about evenly between Jason Lytle and Aaron Espinoza, with both writers’ songs showing off their more satirical and humorous sides.

The opening title track features some typically great Lytle images: “iced tea in my hair” and “drugs fall out of diaper bags” are just two of the things Jason proclaims he “hearts” about the Golden State.  Though both Lytle and Espinoza have a love for slower, more baroque structures, I Heart California features two synth-punky blasts: “Sunburn Kids” and “I’m All Fucked On Beer,” the latter of which is a fuzzed-out delight.  Of course, there are plenty of moments on I Heart California that evoke the languid haze of summer, such as “GNDN” (that is, “Goes Nowhere Does Nothing”) and the Ariana Murray-led piano waltz “The Thread.”  I Heart California’s songs are as varied as summer stories, with emotional highs and lows that all contribute to the end experience.

One reason that I don’t feel the need to decry Admiral Radley as a cheap ploy is that these four musicians have known each other for years, and have only now gotten the chance to collaborate.  Let’s face it, Grandaddy and Earlimart aren’t the biggest bands in the world, and the carefree, fun-loving attitude exuded by this new group is a testament to music’s ever-strong power to unite.  Admiral Radley’s fans are likely to be limited to fans of the members’ main bands, and that’s likely fine with them.  Admiral Radley made this record to have fun, and all they expect for you to get out of listening to it is just that.

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~ by E. on July 30, 2010.

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