Grant Lee Phillips
The demise of Grant Lee Buffalo was truly a dark day to many listeners’ ears. The group’s dense, operatic rock captured a niche somewhere between The Beach Boys and Neil Young, Nick Drake and The Band. But thankfully, those who came to find the band’s sound enchanting have been fortunate in that Grant Lee Phillips, he of the indescribable voice and truly unique worldview, has been busy releasing solo records. His latest, Mobilize, will satisfy Buffalo devotees, as well as anyone just interested in hearing how one man can make quality music all on his own, with guitar, synths, and drum machines, that doesn’t end up sounding like it was made by one person with a digital recorder and electronics (which this album most likely was).
The best of Phillips’ music pulls you along like hitching a ride on a road trip to somewhere new, so it’s appropriate that this album begins with “See America,” a description of such a trip. Following this is the eerily ominous “Humankind,” with the lyrics “If only humankind was not so heartless now/it’s hard to love your fellow man,” lyrics that seem to fit perfectly in the post WTC world, but that were written and released long before. The rest of the record is a textbook of oblique songwriting (and that’s a complement) mixed with the orchestral voicing and grandiose sounds (again, that’s meant in a good way) that Phillips has come to be known for. Hell, the song “Spring Released” is a real booty shaker — who knows, maybe now is the time for Grant Lee Phillips on the dance floor. Stranger things have happened, I guess.