Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Grandview-Life Under The Sun

January 1, 2005

grandviewBand Name: Grandview
Album Name: Life Under The Sun
Best element: The Thinking man’s Pop Band.
Genre: Complex pop.
Website: www.grandviewrock.net
Label name: January records

Band e-mail: grandviewband@hotmail.com

Grandview is tough to pin down. Some days, I’m really, really into Grandview, and each track on Life Under the Sun feels distinct and great in its own way. Other days, I won’t be so hot on Grandview, and I’ll get bored with the sameness of the album, listen to my three favorite tracks, then turn off the album. There’s a very good reason for it too, and it makes this CD review hard to write.

There’s a very thin line between cohesiveness and homogeneity. Grandview dance over that line with reckless abandon. This band has discovered its pop/rock niche so completely and so carefully that there is not a song on here that doesn’t fit into the Grandview sound. There’s no “Lily” like there was for Mellencollie and the Infinite Sadness– each song fits into the Grandview sound in a new and brilliant way. Those with short attention spans, or short attention ears, will not find much to like in Grandview after the first couple of songs, because you’ll say that “Until the World Dies” sounds like “Fall Down”. They are different, but it’s in subtle ways that this album distinguishes itself. It took me a good 5-10 listens to find (or maybe appreciate) some of the intricate rhythms and patterns that have been funneled into this creation.

Those rhythms and patterns are the soul of Grandview- the drummer is a whizkid, serving up complex syncopations and weird rhythms that propel Grandview’s music into a whole different level of pop songwriting. The guitars are complex, but the complexity is present throughout the entire album- if you listen casually as a first listen, it will sound all the same. You have to listen to the album a couple times closely to hear the different ideas and variants to fully grasp the scope of this album.

And then you can enjoy it for the excellent album that it is. The songs here are truly stellar- complex pieces that make me cringe when I think of the amount of time put into timing and sequencing and arranging and practicing. The melodies here are infectious, especially in the standout “The Light of The Moon”, which is not a cover of a barbershop song. Not at all- it’s one of the best songs I’ve heard in 04 (*even though this is in an 05 issue, this review should’ve been in the Dec. issue that got canceled.), as there’s not just one melody, but three that are simply stunning and catchy. They then seal the deal by tracking all three at once- without instruments. That 30-second vocal medley is the moment of the album. And the great part is- it happens twice!

Grandview knows its stuff, and very well, at that. This is an album that, once appreciated, will not lose its place in your collection very easily. It succeeds on much more than just a surface level- instead of having a ‘thinking-optional’ album, Grandview has cultivated a sound that requires thinking about, humming, pondering….it’s just something unavoidable. Grandview is the thinking man’s pop band.

-Stephen Carradini

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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