The Sophtware Slump ….. on a Wooden Piano

Grandaddy

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The 2020 solo piano and vocal version of Grandaddy’s classic 2000 album The Sophtware Slump.

Jason Lytle set up a new plan when he decided to re-record the songs from Grandaddy’s “The Sophtware Slump.” Twenty years ago he made this ageless record while red-eyed and running around a sweltering slipshod home studio in his boxers using some gear he planned to return to Best Buy as soon as he was done. For this new, piano-centric “The Sophtware Slump,” Lytle traveled around Los Angeles, sourcing studios and pianos like a master chef selects foods from a farmer’s market. He identified three instruments and three studios that would suffice. Everything was in place. As with many best-laid plans, his were scuttled. In this case by a pandemic. So two decades after making a DIY masterpiece, Lytle found himself recording those songs again, sweating in his apartment again, trying to create a controlled environment while surrounded by chaos. “I wrote a list of things I had to work around here,” he says. “Traffic. Pretty strong from 8-10, commute times. Then 2 to 5. Helicopters, garbage trucks, weed whackers, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, motorcycles that inevitably always drive by during the middle of a take, sports cars, lots of fancy luxury sedans with no mufflers, parrots.” Parrots. So unlike the old days where the coming and going of birds could be electronically punched in, Lytle 20 years after “The Sophtware Slump” found live birds willing to contribute to his album, and at no cost. He laughs at the challenge of reinventing the album. Twenty years bought him no new comforts. “Because of the pandemic, all of the sudden, I was looking at a real deadline to make the damn thing,” he says. “Here we go, just like the old days. If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. “Not that much has changed.” Yet many things have changed since Grandaddy issued “The Sophtware Slump” in May 2000. Back then, Grandaddy felt on the cusp of something: A band of underdogs pushing to reach for the sky from their modest existence in Modesto, Calif., a place like many other American towns and cities filled with those nurtured by its stasis and those seeking escape by any means. For Grandaddy – the rockers being Burtch, Dryden, Fairchild, Garcia, Lytle — escape came in the form of these songs envisioned by Lytle, a magpie drawn to some shiny objects, but also others with less luster, like a seemingly antiquated keyboard. “Under the Western Freeway,” released in 1997, served as a trailhead with songs about solitude and communication as well as the eeriness of a meritocracy. “The Sophtware Slump” was a wide-angle progression with basement symphonics making for songs that somehow split the difference between meticulous and scruffy. But lyrically and thematically Lytle also took a big step with “The Sophtware Slump,” hinting at some of the cultural tangles. Both “The Sophtware Slump” recordings prompt reflection: inward and outward. They have us consider how we spend our time while we have that time. “Good luck…” “Thank you.”

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Track Listings

  1. He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's the Pilot (Piano Version) 2. Hewlett's Daughter (Piano Version)
  2. Jed the Humanoid (Piano Version)
  3. The Crystal Lake (Piano Version)
  4. Chartsengrafs (Piano Version)
  5. Underneath the Weeping Willow (Piano Version)
  6. Broken Household Appliance National Forest (Piano Version)
  7. Jed's Other Poem (Beautiful Ground) (Piano Version)
  8. E. Knievel Interlude (The Perils of Keeping It Real) (Piano Version) 5. Miner at the Dial-a-View (Piano Version)
  9. So You'll Aim Toward the Sky (Piano Version)

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