Racking Up Plays: “I Heart California” by Admiral Radley

These are the posts where I gush about some song that I’ve got a huge crush on at the moment, and you put up with it and listen because you’re a good friend.

“I Heart California,” Admiral Radley

AdRad in Japan. (via www.admiralradley.com)

Whether they’re natives or fairly recent transplants like myself, nearly everyone who lives in California seems to recognize that there’s something just a bit ridiculous about the place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly enjoying all my new home has to offer, and I’ve observed plenty of Golden State pride, but something about the mixture of the Mediterranean climate, the dysfunctional government, the inherent phoniness of the entertainment industry and the sheer number of people adds up to a shrug of a reaction that says: “Yeah, it’s a bit loopy out here, but what are you gonna do? Live somewhere else?”

No song better captures that attitude that the title track from Admiral Radley’s 2010 debut. The group comprises members of veteran California indie bands Earlimart and Grandaddy, both purveyors of dreamy space-pop, and “I Heart California” follows suit—although singer Jason Lytle presents a wry dream of West Coast living that falls somewhere between cheery and creepy.

After living in Modesto all his life, Lytle moved to Montana following Grandaddy’s break-up in 2006, and he clearly has some unresolved issues with his home state. Over bounding piano chords, he declares, “I am California.” He describes it as a place where “drugs fall out of diaper bags” and plastic surgery is as much a cultural institution as orchestras. Buried in the swooning harmonies and bloopy synth fills of the chorus is a reverb-heavy voice saying, “I love Cah-li-for-nee-yah,” as if the ghost of the Governator haunts the proceedings.

The band’s video helpfully displays the lyrics karaoke-style (along with images of beautiful vistas and some of California history’s more infamous moments), so feel free to sing along.


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