Top 5 Biggest Letdown Albums: #2

this is the fourth installment in my countdown of my top 5 biggest letdown albums

2. Grant Lee Buffalo – “Copperopolis”

These explanations are starting to get pretty formulaic and predictable. I loved a band, loved their music, loved their albums, new album came out, I hated it.

So with each successive review revealing more of the pattern, it’s harder then to get across that the music of these bands meant progressively more to me as the criticisms become more familiar. I’ve never heard anything like the first two Grant Lee Buffalo albums. The words that come to mind when asked to describe the sound would be some kind of Old Testament, deep-south, haunting, gothic folk rock. There’s just this aspect to the music that makes it feel like it’s coming from some far-off, mythical place and it’s been trapped in some kind of curse-guarded cave for a few millennia. You see the three guys in the sleeve who supposedly made it and it’s just hard to believe that something so huge and almost inhuman – in an immortal way – comes from these folks.

When Copperopolis came out in the summer of 1996, I made a special trip to Lincoln in my new car just to buy it. The album to me is best explained by saying that it sounds like a band borrowed all of Grant Lee Buffalo’s instruments and production techniques but forgot to channel whatever spirit that normally flows through the songs. I don’t normally speak this stupidly about music, what with all this other-wordly junk, but there really was this intangible creepiness to the first two albums that was like you were being haunted by them rather than listening to them. That’s completely gone from Copperopolis. Completely.

After that, bassist and producer Paul Kimble – whose contribution to the band’s sound cannot be understated – left the group, and their fourth and final album, Jubilee, was so far removed from their early brilliance it’s like it was another band. This album was such a disappointment to me, and so drastically affected my following of the band, that it was at first going to be #1 on this list. But after a little bit of thinking, I realized that spot could really only go to one album.

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