It ended too soon, but that's the sad truth about young bands with limited catalogs. “We don't know anything else,” co-lyricist Aaron Espinoza said, wrapping up the last of his new band's record I Heart California
Admiral Radley is a little more Grandaddy than Earlimart. Though its made up equally of members of both bands, the quartet favors the skate rock, electro-charged tinkering of Jason Lytle's old group. Further evidence of Grandaddy presented itself via a media collage of footage that rattled back and forth between bird's eye view perspectives and infrared home videos.
Espinoza and Ariana Murray of Earlimart had clearly been on the stage before and worked well with Lytle, polishing the distinct fogginess of his hoarse, readerly vocals and strengthening his spunky post-punk guitar riffs. Murray's delicate background vocals and piano provided some humanity for the grabby and mechanically oriented Admiral Radley brand. In many ways, the Earlimart duo gives the Admiral Radley robot some emotion. Not that it required it, but it's an interesting new side to Lytle, one of my favorite musicians of the last decade.
A love of California permeated the entire set. Lylte even took a moment to talk with a fellow skateboarder who apparently crashed at a skatepark on the Oregon coast. The band's record is a clean piece of work, built lyrically around Pacific experiences like sun burns, cold beer and Mexican food. The sound is stunningly simple, made of cheap percussion samples, repetitive distortion and meager keys. Yet, like Grandaddy before it, Admiral Radley's simplicity is its biggest strength.
The smallish crowd seemed to suggest that I was in on a secret. And perhaps that's true. But beneath Admiral Radley's easy-going, Surf's-Up-meets-space-rock mantra is a musical approach uniquely its own. One that's unbelievably warm, alluring and interactive. One that could only be born from a generation stuck to computers, codes and wires.
Admiral Radley is the sound of running away from our contemporary culture. Espinoza and Murray provide the sweet sound of departure, while Lytle and fellow Granddaddy mate Aaron Burtch remind us—through their striking and divine computer rock—that these digital shackles are fastened to us permanently.
Photo by Mark Stock