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Grandaddy - Excerpts from the Diary of Todd Zilla


Review: Jack Foley

THE story behind Grandaddy's seven track mini-EP, Excerpts From The Diary of Todd Zilla, is filled with interesting anecdotes.

Halfway through writing the band's next full album, Jason Lytle tired of the plastic glamour of Studio A, his glitzy 24-track machine in the living room and part of his kitchen, and hankered back to simpler times, thereby returning to his Studio B bedroom to record this EP.

The result is a return to the more synth-driven style of early work such as Sophtware Slump and Under The Western Freeway rather than the more expansive style of Sumday (witness At My Post, a slice of retro-80s synth-rock that does sound a little dated in places).

The EP was also inspired by Jason's increasing dissatisfaction with life in Modesto, California, a town that he used to love.

He desperately wants to move and find a place to live and record in peace but has yet to do so despite shaving off his trademark beard.

This frustration is fully realised in the anger of tracks like Fuck The Valley Fudge - a riot of noise that includes screaming and wailing the like of which we have not heard from Grandaddy in a long while.

The EP's name is also an interesting one, given that Todd Zilla is something Lytle noticed a few years back on the vanity licence plate of a grossly over-sized, giant tyre style pick-up truck that he saw while vacationing in Lake Tahoe.

He immediately entered it onto his notebook under 'things to do'.

Those things have been realised in mixed fashion. Occasionally, the frustration mars the record, yet for those breathlessly anticipating the arrival of a new Grandaddy record, this EP will certainly fill the void.

Opening track, Pull The Curtains, is a genuinely classic cut, beginning with a soft vocal before letting go with a swish drum roll and a hot alt-rock guitar overload that recalls the sublime space-rock style of their past album, Sumday.

It effortlessly embraces the sunshine sound of California without dwelling too much on Jason's dissastisfaction.

Likewise, the spaced out psychedelia of Cinderland, which includes a nice piano breakdown and a really strained falsetto from Jason, delivered in typically laidback style.

The pensive Goodbye? draws things to a suitably whimsical close, complete with a nice lazy whistle midway through, that aptly sums up the overall sobriety of proceedings.

For while Excerpts From... certainly contains several great moments, it also tends to get a little too bogged down in its own sense of despair.

As an appetiser for the new album, scheduled for 2006, it capably tickles the taste-buds.

Track listing:
1. Pull My Curtains
2. At My Post
3. A Valley Son (Sparing)
4. Cinderland
5. Fu*k The Valley Fudge
6. Florida
7. Goodbye?
8. Hidden Health Announcement

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