Category Archives: 2012

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

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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.