Artist's Choice: Below the Radio

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Twee-jawed indie hippies Grandaddy deliver a pleasantly useless mixtape with Artist's Choice: Below the Radio. Featuring a predictable grab bag of similarly lo-fi precious moments rock, the compilation is primarily lead Grandad Jason Lytle's doing and it plays like a K-Tel commercial for Gen X sad sack-ism. Avoiding any messy iconoclasm, Lytle handpicks various "If you like us, you should really hear this" tracks by Beulah, Earlimart, and others. He's even supplied track-by-track soliloquies written in a conversational tone on why he picked each song. On Beck -- who's "We Live Again" kicks off the disc -- he writes, "a living legend in my eyes," while the Handsome Family's "I Fell" brings on scenes of being "Lost in the out of doors, dementia, and love" and Blonde Redhead's "For the Damaged" reads simply, "Chills..." Although titled Below the Radio, it's hard to argue that artists like Beck and Pavement are exactly left, right, below, or otherwise of the mainstream radio dial. That said, your average Urban Outfitters indie kid might not have yet caught Little Wings' sublimely dippy "Sand Canyon" or waxed rural over Virgil Shaw's depresso alt-country anthem "Twisted Layer." And Lytle has at least chosen lesser-heard album tracks, avoiding any overplayed hits. Considering that most Grandaddy fan faithful probably already own this stuff, Below the Radio largely plays as a big love letter from Lytle to the bands he admires. In the end, that's pretty cool.

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