Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brett Adams
For a while now, Jason Lytle has been very content living where he's living and doing what he's doing. The ex-Grandaddy frontman moved away from California to the sprawl of Montana and became a man giddy about the idea of maybe never leaving the state for any reason, ever again, so enthralled by the space and the spectacle of that massive, open state. He retained his sense of blissed out exclusion and his brilliant timidity - which really just translates into an understated melodicism, all of which made so many weak in the knees for "The Sophtware Slump," as well as the rest of the band's catalog. With Admiral Radley, Lytle teams up with old Grandaddy mate Aaron Burtch and Earlimart members Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray, to form a fantasy, dream team of California popsmiths in the tune of graceful and beautiful slacker anthems and this band strives to make songs that will make you feel as if you can still feel the sun cooking you a little too much, even though you've long ago moved into the shade. It's phantom heat that's making the mind blister and wave a white flag, but it's not anything that we'd like to have go away, really. Because, let's face it, we like feeling the sun beat down on us. We love to have a bronzed covering and we love to be out in it - bragging about getting too much sun, drinking ourselves down that ill-fated path where, before we realize it, we're baked and we're going to have a painful burn to deal with for the next couple of days. We find that our self-warnings, in the midst of these points of decision (to pack it up and head indoors or to stick it out, thinking that the rays you're receiving couldn't possibly be all that strong this day) are flimsy and faint, almost never talking us out of anything. So we remain in the sun, with our shades on, basking in it, and we over-do it. It's a situation that Admiral Radley, as a band, does not seem all too against. The band welcomes the company over here in the bright, hot sunlight. They worship it and they admire it, writing songs for and seemingly in collusion with it more times than not, but then getting to the letdown, or the crash, when the skin is red and peeling dangerously from the arms, the back and the forehead. It's the letdown, or that underbelly, that Lytle and Espinoza have always done so well with their writing, expounding on it, while still making it feel like a necessary component of all of the good stuff that preceded it. You cannot have one without the other, they seem to suggest. The recurring theme that runs through "I Heart California," an album that gets wilder and more downtrodden as it moves through its tracks - much like the kind of progression suggested above, is one of taking the good with the bad, while bracing oneself for the inevitable finding that there might be a vacancy waiting there with the aloe vera lotion and air conditioning at the end. We get to those points where we're/they're all fucked up on beer "and stuff," when we realize it and then decide that this is gonna have to be the worst that it gets - we are going to have to start drinking water and regaining our balance - and that's going to take some quietude and cleansing. We find the cleansing sounding something like this.