Admiral Radley I Heart California

There was a time when a side-project featuring members of Grandaddy and Earlimart would have gotten quite a few column inches, but these days, they can release an album without much fanfare. Nevertheless, Admiral Radley are here and they aren't too bad at all. Actually, they are even better than that; I Heart California is a superior record to anything that any of the participants have been involved with for some time, especially Jason Lytle. Naturally, they sound a lot like both bands, veering a little closer to the Grandaddy side of things. There are plenty of fuzzy guitars, quirky keyboard flourishes and amusingly ironic lyrics piling on the Californian stereotypes. But then there's "I'm All Fucked On Beer," which is the kind of song that should only appear on an album as a hidden track because it kills the record dead. That sums up I Heart California perfectly: with a little more quality control, this could have been something very special; instead, there are just flashes of genius. And that will have to do, for now. (Independent)