Category Archives: Rock

John Mayer – Heavier Things

John Mayer
Heavier Things
September 9, 2003
Aware RecordsColumbia RecordsSME
062/100
John Mayer - Heavier Things
1. Clarity // 2. Bigger Than My Body // 3. Something’s Missing // 4. New Deep // 5. Come Back to Bed // 6. Home Life // 7. Split Screen Sadness // 8. Daughters // 9. Only Heart // 10. Wheel

Singer-songwriter John Mayer’s first full length album Room For Squares sold milions of copies and unexpectedly so. Who knew women of all ages have a soft spot for a guitar-strummy pretty boy velvettily crooning his little heart out about his feelings regarding the fairer sex and his aspirations? (Please don’t answer that in the comment section, that was a rhetorical question.)
Yes Room For Squares was aimed at the heart of the white middle aged housewife demographic adult contemporary radio, and it was incredibly dull. But it still served a purpose in being the perfect soundtrack to an hour or so spent in a Starbucks by members the then-budding hipster community. And if you paid attention to it and managed to stay awake doing so, you would discover that Mayer was a pretty good songwriter with attention to detail and has some pretty good observation skills.
I would give you a example of where Squares offers these qualities here but I cannot remember a single song off Squares beyond Your Body Is a Wonderland, which isn’t a very good example of what is good about John Mayer, despite being his signature song, well until Daughters was released as a single, which also isn’t showing Mayer’s best side, but I digress.

Heavier Things isn’t a grand departure from Squares or anything, but it does sound different enough in that the sound is beefed up justlittle bit. This upgrades Mayer’s music from the sort of adult contemporary radio music you don’t really notice being on to the sort of adult contemporary radio music that gets stuck in your head. In short Heavier Things‘ producer, Jack Joseph Puig, did something to Mayer’s music Room For Squares‘ producer, John Alagia couldn’t; make it memorable at times. Those times are the album-opener Clarity, the next song Bigger Than My Body and Come Back to Bed.
Oh and Daughters is memorable too, although it’s debatable whether it’s positive or negative for that particular song.

Clarity is relaxing and uplifting at the same time and has Mayer’s corduroy croon slide into smooth falsetto on the hook. This combined with the soulful instrumentation makes for something much richer than anything off his debut.
Bigger Than My Body is where the album really picks up steam and ups the tempo. It is unfortunate that Mayer never really comes back to it because this type of faster song (relatively speaking off course, this is still Mayer so the song is still going to be chilled enough to not disrupt a dinnertable conversation) fits him like a glove. Unfortunately the album hits snooze shortly after and never really manages to wake up on time.
On Come Back to Bed however this drowsiness is actually a good thing. On it Mayer pleads to his better half to rejoin him after she got out of the sack because of something he did or didn’t say (What exactly he did wrong he hasn’t figured out himself yet.) It’s gracious, sexy, hooky, bluesy and soulful and would’ve been a big hit if Aware Records/ Columbia had released it as a single.

Then there’s Daughters which has an inescapable hook and could be considered a Hallmark card set to wax or aural dreck leaving a slime trail depending what side of the fence you’re on. This reviewer hates it with every fiber of his body. Contained within it are all those things some wish real boyfriends knew and said, as well as sexism aimed both at women and men in several instances. It may be a well written contemporary pop-classic and all but bleh, this trifle is nauseating.

All of the other songs are alright, nothing more, nothing less. They sound more interesting than the filler off his last album but not by a wide margin. But, in combination with the stand-out songs, they sound good enough to call Heavier Things a fairly big improvement over his first album.

Best tracks
Clarity
Bigger Than My Body
Come Back to Bed
Daughters

Recommendations
Pick this one up. It’s an alright enough record for lazy sundays. Do buy a used copy though if you can find one. This album isn’t necessarily worth a lot of money.


John Mayer – Room For Squares

John Mayer
Room For Squares
June 5, 2001
Aware RecordsColumbia RecordsSME
055/100
John Mayer - Room For Squares
1. No Such Thing // 2. Why Georgia // 3. My Stupid Mouth // 4. Your Body Is a Wonderland // 5. Neon // 6. City Love // 7. 83 // 8. 3X5 // 9. Love Song for No One // 10. Back to You // 11. Great Indoors // 12. Not Myself // 14. St. Patrick’s Day

John Mayer is a rather controversial figure. Depending on whom you ask about him you may get aswers that range musically from guitar-strummy coffee house music-wimp to blues god in the making, and personally from douchebag lothario shagging his way through as many Hollywood debutantes as possible to an entertainingly sober individual with a healthy sense of humour about his celebrity status.

They’re all true to different degrees, depending on what stage of Mayer’s career you’re checking out. With his major-label debut Room For Squares, which recycles five songs from his EP Inside Wants Out, we get a blend of all of them, but the music backing his phlegmatic tenor mostly push this in the coffeehouse wimp territory and the album’s biggest hit, the Grammy awarded Your Body’s a Wonderland, is a prime piece of douchebag lotharionism or a practical joke on the listener, or perhaps both even.

Still for what it’s worth Mayer plays the roll of ‘that boring dick with the guitar that gets the girls to swoon’ with skill and gusto and proves himself to be a pretty skilled songwriter in the process. The opening number No Such Thing is the joint for those who were complete nonfactors in high school but were never that angsty or depressed about it and have since bounced back.
My Stupid Mouth is a potential anthem for those who accidentally call the uncalled for and fuck up socially because of it, and Your Body Is a Wonderland may be everything she needs to hear to give it up already in one neat little package, but it’s still gentle and full of wonder enough to not be the R. Kelly song it for better or worse could‘ve been. It’s also the only thing on here that contains any sort of subject matter that might get any of the young ladies that follow John Mayer’s career to blush because it elaborately talks about fucking, sort of. Apparently John for the time being took his own My Stupid Mouth to heart because all of the other material is so clean it squeaks.
Other highlights are the jazzy nighttime infatuation ride of Neon and the breezy celebration of off-and-on relationships that is Back to You. All of these are skilfully written with attention to detail, but thanks to their production even they all sound alike. Apparently producer John Alagia (of Dave Matthews band fame) is not a fan of risk-taking and Mayer’s later characteristic bluesy guitar playing is left out of this album entirely in favour of poppy jazz lite and folk lite stylings, which may not sound bad but also aren’t remotely memorable. ’83 and 3X5 are so lacklustre this reviewer can’t remember jacques merde about them despite having heard Room for Squares several times in its entirety. That goes for all the songs not mentioned as well.

Room For Squares is promising in that it doesn’t completely suck but isn’t that good either. It’s basically what a Norah Jones album from the same time would’ve sound like if Jones was a guy. Still despite the fact that the presentation is entirely lukewarm a handful of these songs are fairly good and that gives off the promise that Mayer could be an interesting artist if backed by a more engaging sound and let his hair down a little.

Best tracks
No Such Thing
Why Georgia
My Stupid Mouth
Your Body Is a Wonderland
Neon
Back to You

Recommendations
Don’t bother with this one. Chances are these songs can be found a lot more alive-sounding on one of Mayer’s live-albums, or on his acoustic debut EP Inside Wants Out even.


John Mayer – Inside Wants Out

John Mayer
Inside Wants Out
September 24, 1999
Mayer Music, LLC
060/100

Inside Wants Out

1. Back to You // 2. No Such Thing // 3. My Stupid Mouth // 4. Neon // 5. Victoria // 6. Love Soon // 7. Comfortable // 8. Neon 12:47 AM // 9. Quiet // 10.  Not Myself

For a guy who appears to rack up controversy whenever he opens his mouth to an interviewer John Mayer sure is quite the gentle, easy-going and some would say boring ‘singer-songwriter’ artist. If his independently 1999 debut EP Inside Wants Out is representative of his work that is.

This ten track EP, that would’ve been labeled an LP, had it been in the exact same form released fifteen years sooner, finds Mayer’s velvetty tenor backed by his own acoustic guitar (and the occasional other instrument, but mostly his guitar). It makes for the perfect autumn coffeehouse music and though a few of its songs were re-recorded for his full length debut Room For Squares it doesn’t exactly sound like a rough draft of that album.

For better or worse (and I am going with worse) there is no Your Body Is a Wonderland here, or anything else that blatantly goes after MOR-radio. Not that there’s anything on this folksy/jazzy pop EP that doesn’t fit on MOR radio, mind you. But nothing on here quite seem quite as intent on dominating that particular radio format as his first big hit was, either. Guess whe know now why Your Body Is a Wonderland became his first big hit.

His debut EP appears to lack impact almost as deliberately as his most talked-about interviews appear to be there to draw piss from the interviewer taking it from him (although whether either of these things are achieved by design or default remains not entirely clear). Which is one of the two pardoxes of the man that listening to these songs gives off. The other is that unlike his interviews his lyrics are mostly clever and do contain some insight and humour. But then again he does eloquently account for his lack of conversational eloquence on My Stupid Mouth, which retrospectively can only be read as a disclaimer, this self-proclaimed Captain Backfire has apparently been having Michael Richards PR nightmares pre-fame even, as well as a Benneton heart and a David Duke cock.

It is too bad that these stories are more interesting than the actual music on Inside Wants Out. A lot of these songs would (and some eventually did) benefit from a more complete instrumentation. Mayer’s music persona simply isn’t interesting enough to work as some sort of self accompanying troubadour, even if he does have the guitar-playing and songwriting chops to justify calling him a musician; this guy needs to be a rock star with a band backing him up in order to work, and soon he would be.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and this is a far cry fom a horrible way to start, in part thanks to it’s short running time: it’s not around long enough to overstay its welcome, let alone annoy.
It’s only real fault is that it is just not very interesting to listen to, and everyone knows that in Easy Listening music this quality is no death sin. Besides, from here on it would go nowhere but up (well, musically at least.)

Best tracks
No Such Thing
Neon
Comfortable

Recommendations
This is pretty good background music fodder for a playlist put together for reastaurant or a coffee bar containing similarly-minded stuff like Norah Jones, Jamie Cullum and Katie Melua. It’s also well fit to read the sunday morning papers to, but that’s about the extent of what situations this is going to work in. Well, besides elevators off course.


Maroon 5 – Songs About Jane [2 CD 10th Anniversary Edition]

Maroon 5
Songs About Jane [2 CD 10th Anniversary Edition]
June 20, 2012
A&M OctoneUMG
070/100
Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane 10th Anniversary Edition

Disc 1
1. Harder to Breathe // 2. This Love // 3. Shiver // 4. She Will Be Loved // 5. Tangled // 6. The Sun // 7. Must Get Out // 8. Sunday Morning // 9. Secret // 10. Through With You // 11. Not Coming Home // 12. Sweetest Goodbye

Disc 2
1. Harder To Breathe [Demo Version] // 2. This Love [Demo Version] // 3. Shiver [Demo Version] // 4. She Will Be Loved [Demo Version] // 5. Tangled [Demo Version] // 6. The Sun [Demo Version] // 7. Must Get Out [Demo Version] //  8. Sunday Morning [Demo Version] // 9. Secret [Demo Version] // 10. Through With You [Demo Version] // 11. Not Coming Home [Demo Version] // 12. Sweetest Goodbye [Demo Version] // 13. Take What You Want // 14. Rag Doll // 15. Woman // 16. Chilly Winter // 17. The Sun [Alternate Mix]

In 2012 Maroon 5 released a tenth anniversary edition of their 2002 debut Songs About Jane. The original album has been covered by Sir Bonkers who rather enjoyed it. The incarnation of the album that was originally released to audiences worldwide in ’02 was decidedly not my cup of tea as is the band as a whole. In a review of that I would burn Maroon 5 to the ground for having a frontman with a high pitched, nasal voice, their ability to play instruments above averagely be damned. I’ve always thought of Maroon 5 as annoyingly mediocre.

I’ve always considered their music more annoying than the buzzing of a mosquito. A mosquito I can kill but Maroon 5 with Adam Levine included persists and persists to grow more annoying. Hearing Moves Like Jagger makes me think of of a guy singing with a clothes peg on his nose in order to sound extra nasal while trying to hit a bunch of different high notes while getting so out belted and out classed in general by a far superior singer with seventies soul diva worthy vocal talent, miss Christina Aguilera. But I’m getting off track there. the original Songs About Jane is a five out of ten affair in my opinion, but this is a review of the tenth anniversary edition which includes a full disc of previously unreleased material, mostly demos of the tracks that made the cut of the original album, but also a B-side of one of the singles and a couple of never before released songs. The following review is of that disc.

There is a very audible difference between the album versions and demo versions. The demos are much better sounding and Adam Levine’s voice can even – dare I say it – be appreciated.

This Love is a good example. The demo sounds crisper, less loud and Adam Levine sounds more natural. The album version was an acceptable shade of catchy bland-sounding as long as the volume was down. This actually sounds decent. Shiver sounds more much more modest and less pumped up.

The demos actually give the listener the opportunity to listen to the notes, silences and the interplay in the band. She Will Be Loved sounds more emotional. there  are some cool keys and sound effects going on here. I’m starting to see the appeal of these guys. The grooves are more groovy here and yes Maroon 5 sounds decisively funky.

In the demo mixes the vocals are more prominent and the keyboardist is really in his element on the demos. The Sun is a sheer pleasure. As I am trying to write I’m having to resist singing along. The drum kit sounds like an actual drum kit rather than on the album version where it sounds like a drum machine. The distant guitar wails almost remind me of the Verve. When I mention the Verve that is no light compliment. Nick McCabe played guitars like a shoegazing guitar hero.

Sunday Morning comes remarkably close to sounding like a live soul jam. If anything the ‘good old’ Chicago comes to mind. Chicago could play no other band and this version is a pleasant surprise. The demo of Secret is another gem. Adam Levine’s voice in slow jams with slow grooves and shimmering guitars is a match made in heaven.

The piano in Through With You sounds spacious and lively. Adam Levine is still still doesn’t work as an angry guy and never will because of his voice, so he does well setting the mood as disappointed. Sweetest Goodbye is also largely improved upon (Or rather taken away from since this is in fact the original version). The more accentuated acoustic sound works really well. The keys and acoustic guitars add a very nice effect. The guitar solo in the end gives a light Rock edge.

Take What You Want was previously unreleased. It is a good song about how relationships can end. This song is a light rocker and the guitar solos are very tastefully done. Rag Doll follows as a slow song about Adam Levine wanting to be single. Woman is a gem. I am digging this slow song about fantasising about a beautiful woman who he still has yet to meet.

Chilly Winter is a funk song about missing your girlfriend reminiscent of early Prince music not only in spirit but also in quality which was unexpected. The horn section works well in this song. The Sun is the closer of this album and. This is a good song too, full stop.

There is little to add. On the demos and unreleased songs M5 actually sounds like a completely different, better band. I find it regrettable that I learned of Maroon 5 via TV and radio and their finished albums because apparently that doesn’t give a good indication what these guys are capable of. The demos are much nicer sounding than their finished counterparts and the band sounds enjoyable throughout.

Best Tracks
She Will Be Loved [Demo Version]
The Sun [Alternate Mix]
Sunday Morning [Demo Version]
Woman
Chilly Winter

Recommendations
If the demo’s were sold on a separate disc I could recommend this album right away. On the second disc there is no filler and the demos actually make the regular album redundant. It’s terrific stuff.

As it is I still recommend a purchase but you should immediately put the first disc in the dumpster as soon as you leave the record store. Also this positive review shouldn’t be read as any sort of edorsement of anything else they ever did. All their other albums are still an apalling waste of time, although who knows? Maybe if they dug up the demos for a re-release those might sound good as well.

My regards,

Rura88


Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush the Show

Public Enemy
Yo! Bum Rush the Show
April 1, 1987
Def Jam RecordingsColumbia RecordsSME
080/100
Public Enemy - Yo! Bum Rush the Show
1. You’re Gonna Get Yours // 2. Sophisticated Bitch // 3. Miuzi Weighs a Ton // 4. Time Bomb // 5. Too Much Posse // 6. Rightstarter // 7. Public Enemy No. 1 // 8. M.P.E. // 9. Yo! Bum Rush the Show // 10. Raise the Roof // 11. Megablast // 12. Terminator X Speaks With His Hands

While N.W.A was just starting take off in L.A. with their profane, violent lyrics about raising hell in Compton and South Central L.A. over Dre and Yella’s phoncky beats something else was brewing on the East-Coast of the USA.

Indeed Public Enemy largely bypassed the gangsta shit or rhyming about street life, selling drugs and fucking bitches, in stead they decided to rhyme about politics, the African-American community and the American media and all sorts of things much more serious and less hilariously graphic than their West-Coast contemporaries did, while their at-the-time Def Jam-assigned producer Rick Rubin, as well as PE’s own production team the Bomb Squad, couldn’t be bothered by Cali’s rather literal funk, and channels a somewhat more rock-tinged sound for Chuck D to rap over while Flava Flav props him up alongside him, eventually doing as much for “conscious hip-hop” as N.W.A did for gangsta rap.
For a group known as militant and political this debut sure is tame. It would seem that PE didn’t quite get political from the get-go since subject-wise they mostly tackle the same B-boy subjects that Run and Daryl were known for rapping about, nor did they set the world on fire with this album, since I cannot find an indication that Yo! Bum Rush the Show did platinum, or even gold numbers, or scored any big hits (back when record sales and radio were an actual indication of how many people actually were reached by a record).

As uncompromising as N.W.A was in their sound and lyrical content on Straight Outta Compton, they at the very least had prevalent sense of fun on some of the songs off their debut.  Songs like 8ball [Remix] or If It Ain’t Ruff may not have stood a ghost of a chance of getting played on the radio, but their sense of mischief and money maker-moving production paired with only made them extra suitable for fraternity parties.
Yo! Bum Rush the Show, because of being more acceptable to mom and dad’s ears and because of containing only one James Brown-sample, offers no such rebellious party function, which is probably why Yo! Bum Rush the Show didn’t go platinum on word of mouth, while Straight Outta Compton did.

Besides, few tracks go very far in expressing many of the profound but controversial beliefs PE is known for having (the dissing of gold digger-bitches on Sophisticated Bitch, the acquiring of a car on You’re Gonna Get Yours, the advise not to smoke crack on Megablast and the dismissal of sucker MCs on Public Enemy No. 1 are about the extent of the proceedings content-wise.)
The exception is Timebomb, which casually namedrops Kareem Abdul Jamar and adresses Apartheid and teen pregnancies among other similar subjects and Rightstarted (Message to a Black Man) which attempts to remind the black community of slavery and reasons about a link between high criminality rates among Afro-Americans and the white man holding the black man down. This is where the seeds of their 1988 breakthrough album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back were sown.

Subject matter-wise Yo! Bum Rush the Show is varied enough to be consistently entertaining, with lots of old school-minded bragging, boasting and critiquing, as well as hints of social consciousness.
Technique alone elevates PE over the likes of RUN-DMC or the Sugar Hill Gang, who mostly rapped about the exact same subject matter, but never elaborately broke down any of these subjects the way Chuck D does, both content-wise and flow wise.
The beats are pretty fresh too. You’re Gonna Get Yours, an ode to Chuck’s beloved automobile has the kind of instrumental that would be equally well suited to score an ’80s race movie, with it’s jingling guitar, it’s booming bass and the scratching being substituted by car noises.
Sophisticated Bitch pairs rock guitars with hip-hop beats and takes one back to a time before soul and R&B were the obvious source material for hip-hop producers to sample.
Timebomb is the funkiest thing on here, which helps Chuck’s message go down and helps make the tone of the song activist rather than preachy.
Public Enemy Number One is the kind of propelling, minimal instrumental that manages to be both old school and timeless at the same time and makes anyone who rhymes over it sound good. (Even P. Daddy, when he jacked the beat wholesale for his song of the same name on his 1999 album Forever. A collection of songs with beats you’ve heard before elsewhere, better.)

Yo! Bum Rush the Show is a prime example hip-hop’s late ’80s coming of age. Chuck D (along with the likes of Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, N.W.A, the D.O.C., Ice-T and Schooly D) was one of the first to realise the genre’s potential lyrical complexity, all while, at the very least on this album, maintaining the old school sounds and mentality of those who came before him (RUN-D.M.C., LL Cool J, Sugarhill Gang). As such this is one of those albums every hip-hop historian should own, and an overlooked one at that. But since besides revolutionary and influential this is entertaining as hell from a music standpoint as well, fans of other musical genres that aren’t necessarily into hip-hop, should take this for a spin too.
You’ll rarely find an MC more authoritative-sounding than Chuck D and you will definitely never find a hypeman more engaging than Flava Flav. And with the Bomb Squad banging the beats and the legendary rock-producer Rick Rubin lending them a hand and overseeing this album’s creation you know what’s up.

Best tracks
You’re Gonna Get Yours
Public Enemy No. 1
Time Bomb

Recommendations
Pick this one up.


Maroon 5 – Overexposed

Maroon 5
Overexposed
June 20, 2012
A&M OctoneUMG
068/100
Maroon 5 - Overexposed
1. One More Night // 2. Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) // 3. Daylight // 4. Lucky Strike // 5. The Man Who Never Lied // 6. Love Some Body // 7. Lady Killer // 8. Fortune Teller // 9. Sad // 10. Tickets // 11. Doin Dirt // 12. Beautiful Goodbye

Bonus tracks
13. Wipe Your Eyes // 14. Wasted Year // 15. Kiss // 16. Moves Like Jagger (feat. Christina Aguilera) // 17. Payphone [Supreme Cuts Remix] (feat. Wiz Khalifa) // 18. Payphone [Cutmore Remix] (feat. Wiz Khalifa) // 19. Payphone [Sound of Arrows Remix] (feat. Wiz Khalifa)

What constitutes a sellout? Did Maroon 5 trade in credibility for cold hard cash? A lot of other reviewers, as well as fans certainly think that Overexposed is a perfect example of a sellout and yes, they did.

To this reviewer this is not a question that’s easy to answer. One could go either way arguing, really. While Maroon 5 has always been about catchy radio-ready songs and never seemed to give a fuck about high culture credibility (which was good for them because they never got any accordingly) one could usually argue in their defence that in spite of their lack of innovative music-making they at the very least were a skilled traditional soul-influenced rock band, bringing many times some oft needed warm organic sounds to EDM and hip-hop dominated charts.

But with their ballsily titled fourth/fifth studio album of original material Overexposed they throw this shred of cred out the window so that Adam can finally be the electro disco diva he always envisioned himself to be, and which the success of their über-catchy, Christina Aguilera-featuring novelty hit Moves Like Jagger, which is present both on their last album Hands All Over and here as a bonus-track, finally allows him to be. (Well, in terms of success anyway. Makes Me Wonder and If I Never See Your Face Again already hinted at this artistic direction, but they never became as huge hits as Jagger did.)

This would be just fine if this were marketed as Levine’s solo-debut album, but since it is dubbed an M5 album it really makes one wonder how much imput the other four had. Overexposed for the most part doesn’t sound like four-to-five humans playing instruments, with one of them singing.
Also the list of producers recruited for Overexposed, and especially its opening salvo (Max Martin, Shellback, Benny Blanco) seem to have purposely been selected to push M5 in an EDM direction, one that requires but a person with a laptop with fl studio on it and a keyboard and a vocalist to make music, not a five piece band. The rock-influences (they had been a full rock band on their ’97 debut) have now fully and completely disappeared, which they had gradually been doing bit by bit, album by album anyway. This is EDM influenced R&B pop.

The resulting album is quite the quilty pleasure. From the Rihanna-esque Max Martin produced pop-reggae of One More Night, through the Wiz Khalifa-featuring android-Coldplay of Payphone. These songs would work equally well in the club as they would on M.O.R. radio.
And since M5 never really rocked hard you’d have to pay attention to actually notice them landing in their usual more acoustic, less robotic groove on Daylight, and find a way to succesfully blend both styles on the exuberant Lucky Strike, which manages to approach Jagger in is sheer mindless fun and catchyness.

The Man Who Never Lied manages to slyly incorporate the rhythm of this generation, dubstep in a glossy pop song and again blends electronic with the human in a manner that should get some heads to nod and some foots to tap.
Love Somebody is glossy new wave/ disco pop that’s tailor made for the discotheque and as such is works fine.

Lady Killer distinctly sounds like the Maroon 5 of olde with it’s very human, mildly funky groove and lyrics about heartbreak on the dancefloor and what not, and for longtime fans it should come as a breath of fresh air.

Love Somebody is glossy new wave/ disco pop that’s tailor made for the discotheque and as such is pretty functional.
Fortune Teller and Tickets are pretty decent, pretty straightforward GaGa ripoffs, What’s that? What are you complaining about? Bounce, bitch, bounce!
Sad is the first actual ballad on here and consists of nothing but Adam’s singing and a piano accompaniment. It sounds like the sort of vocal display that the Voice-participants would perform to impress the jury.
Doin’ Dirt is some stroboscope-shining disco for the ecstasy generation and constitutes the last call to the dancefloor, before Beautiful Goodbye‘s slow tempo initiates the slow dance that should draw you and the person you want to take home and bed together and finally break the ice.

(For those sticking around for the after-party, in the bonus track section you will find Moves Like Jagger as a fitting encore, as well as a rockabilly cover of Prince’s Kiss that is actually pretty innovative, but doesn’t fit on Overexposed, a song that blends early naughties Justin Timberlake and some big band horns called Wasted Year and finally three asinine remixes of Payphone in a row that all sound exactly the same as the original version.)

Now, back to the question posed in the beginning of the review. What constitutes a sellout? Did M5 sell their soul (no pun intended) just to sell records the way many other reviewers claim?

Here at DITC the jury is still out, actually. On the one hand, as was said earlier; M5 was never about very substantial music, not even during their “grunge” days, and Overexposed doesn’t sound forced. It is entirely possible Adam and co. enjoyed fucking around with some new sounds (even if everyone else was fucking with those exact same sounds at the exact same time, Adam is well known to not be a very picky guy) On the other hand, it is entirely possible that the record label liked the extra revenue Jagger brought about and told the guys to deliver another dozen of those.

Who cares with results this catchy? Overexposed is a party, a very slight party, but one worth attending anyway. And whoever’s idea it was making an electro-dance record, it wasn’t a completely horrible one. Especially considering what a relative clunker Hands All Over was. And even though I still think this more as a producers-driven Adam Levine solo album on which his band-buddies only get to play along on a couple of tracks. But that doesn’t mean in any way there’s not a wealth of catchy ass-shakers on here, because there is (more than on Hands All Over but less than on IWBSBL). Hopefully the guys will swiftly return to what got them a fanbase and made them, you know, a band with their own sound, and it remains to be seen whether anyone will listen to this in ten years (except Jagger, which is one for the ages) but for now this is a very catchy, well put-together album for the summer. And that is certainly worth something.

Best tracks
One More Night
Payphone
Lucky Strike
Lady Killer
Tickets
Doin Dirt
(Wasted Year
Kiss
Moves Like Jagger)

Recommendations
Pick this up, you should go for the deluxe edition. Even if it contains it’s fair share of meh tracks, there’s even more pop music that’s catchier than ebola.


Maroon 5 – Hands All Over

Maroon 5
Hands All Over
September 21, 2010
OctoneA&MUMG
063/100
Maroon 5 - Hands All Over
1. Misery // 2. Give A Little More // 3. Stutter // 4. Don’t Know Nothing // 5. Never Gonna Leave This Bed // 6. I Can’t Lie // 7. Hands All Over // 8. How // 9. Get Back in My Life // 10. Just a Feeling // 11. Runaway // 12. Out Of Goodbyes (feat. Lady Antebellum)

Deluxe edition bonus tracks:
13. Last Chance // 14. No Curtain Call // 15. Never Gonna Leave This Bed [Acoustic] // 16. Misery [Acoustic] // 17. If I Ain’t Got You [Live] // 18. Crazy Little Thing Called Love [Acoustic]

Reissue:
13. Moves Like Jagger (feat. Christina Aguilera)

For Maroon 5’s third album of original material (fourth if you count the Fourth World) they decidedly didn’t attempt to fix what wasn’t broken. Like It Won’t Be Soon Before LongSongs About Jane and even the Fourth World this album contains exactly twelve tracks, clocking at under 45 minutes, which is plenty for it not to be a glorified EP yet isn’t so long that you’ll be sick and tired after only one listen. Like its predecessors it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Problem is that another, less static, more progressive trend has been continued as well. From their alt-rock debut, through Jane and IWBSBL they have become an increasingly slick, polished unit. Where Jane by a small stretch of the imagination could be considered alternative mainstream, It Won’t Be Soon was a shameless attack on the pop charts, a terifically executed shameless attack on the charts that didn’t actually trade in quality for pop-appeal. But still a move that one could consider selling out if one is so inclined (For the record, I am not. I think Adam had as much fun becoming a slightly rocky disco diva as his audience, and that the band, if anything were indulging themselves with the new direction. Moves Like Jagger certainly points in that direction.)

Hands All Over however doesn’t cross the band into any new territory, the way Makes Me Wonder or If I Never See Your Face Again did. Those two snide, sarcastic, crunchy funk numbers are reprised in the form of Give a Little More, as catchy a song as any in their back catalog and hands down the best thing on here.

It’s not that the rest of the songs here are offensive to the ears. In fact Don’t Know Nothing has a cute little Motown-vibe. Misery and Stutter are funky and catchy enough dancefloor fun with refrains you can sing along to.
Never Gonna Leave This Bed should satisfy adult contemporary rock audiences worldwide, and would be a good choice for the sweltering background music to the makeout scene in some young adults-movie.
I Can’t Lie is some sunny soul-pop with a very mild ska/reggae influence that wouldn’t sound out of place at a BBQ.
Hands All Over is about as hard as Kara’s Flowers rock these days, and it has plenty of rockstar attitude and strut. Just a Feeling is the big, emotional ballad à la Won’t Go Home Without You, and it’s every bit as catchy, if not quite as poignant.
Out Of Goodbyes pairs M5 with country band Lady Antebellum for something that marries mild-mannered country and sultry bossa nova.

As can’t-complain-decent as everything is, there’s absolutely nothing on here you haven’t head before, better, both by this band and by other artists. So while Hands All Over may be an album too catchy and professionally done to outright dismiss it is also too toothless to outright recommend to anyone in particular, besides M5 fans fiending desperately for a new fix.
(Still, the tracks contained in the main version of this album sound damn near experimental compared to the deluxe edition bonus tracks. Completely literal covers of Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You and Queen’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love are best left to your the Voice protégés, Adam. What the fuck!?)

Still there’s one special edition of this album that should be considered for a purchase before any other. One that incorporates but one additional song, one that, novelty hit and guilty pleasure it may be, helps to make up for the most fundamental of this album’s flaws, lack of memorability. That song is the Christina Aguilera-featuring electro-disco Voice-fest called Moves Like Jagger. And that reissue of Hands All Over gets a 070/100 rather than the main edition’s 065/100.

Best tracks
Give A Little More
(Moves Like Jagger)

Recommendations
Pick up the reissue of Hands All Over, you’ll get two pretty cool dancefloor jams and eleven additional songs that may not be very substantial (in fact even less so than M5’s music usually is) and completely evaporate from consience after this disc stops spinning, but are still quite enjoyable when they’re on.