“You and Your Heart” (Jack Johnson Cover)

Originally posted 2010-09-16 00:25:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Hello everyone and welcome to another new edition of the Laptop Sessions with Jim Fusco!  Glad to be back for my regularly-scheduled Thursday timeslot.  Remember- check back every two weeks for a brand-new video!

I went into a bit of a Jack Johnson phase recently because I ordered his new album, “To the Sea” on vinyl.  I was home cleaning or working one Saturday morning and decided to fire-up the record player.  I instantly liked the album and decided to add it to my car rotation.  However, I still hadn’t listened to Johnson’s previous album, “Sleep Through the Static”, from a couple of years ago.  I even bought it on the first day it came out, but was in another phase at the time (can’t remember what band).  My brother Mike didn’t give “Sleep Through the Static” great reviews, so I thought others should come first.  And there the album sat.  First at the condo, then in my car, and finally in my new house.

So, I listened to “Sleep Through the Static”.  It’s not a bad album.  But, it’s not a great album, either.  I mean, the songs are fine- I really have yet to find a Jack Johnson song I don’t like.  But, and I’m being completely honest here, there’s not too many Jack Johnson songs I truly “LOVE”.  “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” is probably the closest.  But, all of Johnson’s songs have that same vibe and are semi-simple, for the most part.  Now, if you know anything about my musical tastes, you’ll know that those two traits are things I like in music.  But, on “Sleep Through the Static”, the music is very low-key.  There’s a lot of slow songs and nothing too catchy.

But on “To The Sea”, you start with “You and Your Heart”, which (in my opinion) is the catchiest, most single-worthy song since “Upside Down” off of the Curious George soundtrack.  And since this isn’t a kids’ song, it should get a bit more respect.  Mike doesn’t like the way Johnson sings the verses to “You and Your Heart”, so I hope I did a “better” job with that. :-)

The song, as I mentioned earlier, is pretty simple to play.  If I had accompaniment, I would’ve played the riff the whole way through, though it’s very difficult to do while singing lead.  I chose to do rhythm guitar for most of the song because it sounds better on a solo performance and helps me keep time better.  It took quite a few takes to get this one right- those fast-paced words during the verses are very tricky.  The first line starts with, “Watch you when you say what you…”  That’s three “you”s in the first seven words of the song!  But, Jack Johnson’s alliteration has always been his strong point, lyrically.

I hope you enjoy tonight’s video.  I’ve got the next three videos planned-out already and they’re sure to please.  A quick note on my musical ambitions: The new website is coming along nicely after a tedious start (coding!) and I’ve started creating a new Facebook page just for me and my music.  Also, please remember to follow me on Twitter @jimfuscomusic!  You’ll get up-to-the-minute news and will always be notified of new videos and blog posts.

I’ll be back sooner if I can get the new website done first, but if not, I’ll see you in two weeks.  For now, enjoy, “You and Your Heart”!



Jack Johnson’s “To The Sea” (2010) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-12-19 12:12:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  3 / 5 stars

If you’re looking for a benchmark three-star album, Jack Johnson’s To The Sea is a downright lovely candidate.

To The Sea is a charming little album populated by harmless pop songs that are predominantly driven by Johnson’s guitars, both acoustic and electric.  There is, of course, the basic rhythm section we’ve come to expect: Adam Topol on drums and Merlo Podlewski on bass.  This is all accented quite nicely by Zach Gill’s keyboards.

Here and there, as in the bare bones arrangement and thick harmonies of “When I Look Up,” Johnson diverges from the regularly scheduled program, but, for the most part, this is business as usual.  Excellent tracks like “From the Clouds” and even the single “You and Your Heart” suffer from sounding too choreographed at times.  The former heats up a bit at the end and the latter is catchy and lyrically interesting, so this deficiency is covered over for the most part, though it’s not so well disguised on others like “At or With Me.”

The stripped down, direct sentiment of “My Little Girl” and “Only the Ocean” is proof positive that Johnson hasn’t lost the knack for writing and performing simple songs that present cause for pause and reflection.  Likewise, “Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology” is a catchy smirk-and-wink of a song, worthy of being termed anthemic even and thus illustrative of Johnson’s pop mentalities and abilities.

These aren’t the issues here.

What is questionable is the manner in which the other tracks blend together.  On the one hand, they operate very cohesively, as an album.  In addition to the commonalities in sound, the rhetoric of “No Good with Faces” on track three easily gives way to that on the third to last track “Pictures of People Taking Pictures,” as it does from the sociological commentary on uncertainty of track four, “At or With Me,” to the directness of the penultimate song, “Anything But the Truth.”

Clearly, To The Sea is more than merely a collection of songs written around the same time.

To The Sea (Jack Johnson, 2010)

To The Sea (Jack Johnson, 2010)

On the other hand, the tracks blend so well as to defy individuality at times.  For instance, it is difficult to decide whether a song like “Turn Your Love” is grooving or falling into a rut.  I have yet to figure out whether “The Upsetter” and “Pictures of People Taking Pictures” are moving, or whether the harmonies make up for what the words and instrumentation lack.

Ironically, this is the first time I’ve ever felt lukewarm about a Jack Johnson release.  Accusations of lukewarmth have followed him his entire career, notably being the mantra chanted by those minimizing such outstanding albums as In Between Dreams and On and On.  (Cough.  Nudge.  This means you and your sub-three star balderdash, Rolling Stone.)

Frankly, I’ve never really gotten into Brushfire Fairytales, but it has an appeal that I won’t deny, and it is also a debut effort.  Likewise, I didn’t like Sleep Through the Static at first — in fact, I hated it.  I felt it was a letdown following the “Jack Johnson goes electric” hype, and I resented the inordinate amount of attention it received from critics.  However, when I eventually warmed to it, it came as a result of realizing that the individual songs were actually of very high quality.  I still don’t think it compares as an album in the ranks of In Between Dreams and On and On, but song for song, it holds its own.

So, in summary, I’ve never felt lukewarm about Jack Johnson’s music.

Until now.

The truth is that To The Sea is a likable — charming, even — studio album that lacks the punch, the elusive “x factor” to make it truly moving.  It functions a little too nicely as background music.  It’s a bit too chill, even for Johnson.  Still, there are those moments, like his tender vocals on “No Good with Faces” and his electric solos on “To The Sea” and “At or With Me” — each singlehandedly better than any electric performance on Sleep Through the Static — that stand out from the rest, as if to remind us that Jack Johnson is an artist not to be underestimated.

You might love this album.  You might think it’s forgettable.  As such, there’s no better reason to award it a three-star rating.

“Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” (Jack Johnson Cover)

Originally posted 2012-07-05 16:53:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions here on the Fusco-Moore Music Video Blog! Today, I bring you a great acoustic song from Jack Johnson that was a single, but never really made it anywhere on the charts. But, his album, “In Between Dreams”, did very well. I guess there’s a big divide: the people the like the music I love really buy albums and the people that like music I can’t stand just buy the singles. So, I’ll bring you this acoustic cover version of Jack Johnson’s “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” and hopefully give it a little more recognition as a single.

This is my first Jack Johnson cover song, but Chris did a great acoustic cover of “Do You Remember” a few weeks ago, so it’s not a new artist to the Laptop Sessions music blog. I really got into this album and most of Johnson’s music after getting this album. His style is a bit of stretch for my normal musical tastes, but he’s got such catchy tunes and guitar parts (coupled with the great beats he sings with- those fast lyrics, a la Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies) I just couldn’t resist. For the most part, like in this song, I really love the lyrics, too. He has a way of cramming a lot of words in, but still says some things in such a unique way. “Lord knows that the world is cruel, but I ain’t the Lord, I’m just a fool, and loving somebody don’t make them love you.” Talk about a loaded sentence! The only times I’m not such a huge fan of his lyrics is when he’s kinda preachy, you know? Of course, I’m not a fan of any preachy lyrics (or people, for that matter- keep that in mind when you’re posting comments, lol), so Johnson gets another free pass there.

I hope you enjoy your Friday edition and I’m glad I don’t have to post tomorrow or Sunday because I’m looking to have a nice weekend away for the first time in over a year. So, Chris and Jeff will hold down the fort for a little while and I’ll be back on Monday for my regularly-scheduled acoustic cover music video.


The Top Five Rock Artists of the Decade (2000s): NUMBER FOUR is Jack Johnson

Originally posted 2010-02-18 13:56:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

This is the second in a five part series dedicated to the top five rock artists of the decade, 2000-2009.  The criteria used to determine this list were: (1) Quality of Music, (2) Quantity of Released Material, (3) Diversity of Media, and (4) Roles of Artists/Band Members.  Look for new posts coming soon!

By Chris Moore:

For an artist whose entire recorded career is contained within this one decade, Jack Johnson has compiled an expansive and impressive catalog.  He has matured quickly, enough to form his own record label and to gain the respect of some of the biggest names in rock music.

As I type this, I’m listening to the live En Concert version of “Constellations,” a duet with Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, performed as comfortably as if they were buddies jamming in their parents’ basement.

Most notable of all is the manner in which Jack Johnson has achieved success — namely, by recording chart-topping albums in an age when singles are all the rage and illegal downloading has cut many artists’ sales.  In a mere nine years, Johnson’s repertoire extends across four studio albums, a soundtrack, three concert DVDs, and a live CD.

Without a doubt, Jack Johnson is one of the top rock artists of the decade.

AN ALBUM GUY, AN ACOUSTIC GUY…

Just to recap:  singles ruling the music kingdom, illegal downloading killing sales, music stores closing their doors.

Well, you wouldn’t know it by the way Jack Johnson has built his career.  Thus far, it’s gone down something like this…

2001: Brushfire Fairytales, a mix between conventional (read: acoustic) and catchy/quirky, a debut album that manages to crack the top forty in the U.S., rising all the way to number 34 despite the fact that the only single released faltered on the fall line, forty slots lower.  Songs like “Inaudible Melodies,” “Flake,” and “Losing Hope” were already outstanding, while others shared the promise of thematic (“The News”) and lyrical (“Posters” – “Here comes another one, just like the other one”) material to come.

2003: On and On, a darker, more lyrically interesting album, a follow-up that skyrockets to number three in the U.S. and manages multi-platinum sales globally.   You wouldn’t know it from the U.S. singles charts, but there are some tremendous songs here — “Taylor,” “The Horizon Has Been Defeated,” “Gone,” “Holes to Heaven” — the list goes on…

2005: In Between Dreams, a veritable “best of” collection, an instantly classic album with a crystal clear sound and a beautiful sense of atmosphere, a true masterpiece.  It hit number two in America, and in a rare case of the UK being behind, they finally caught wind of Johnson as he topped the charts there.  It’s all here — the carefree, relaxing (“Banana Pancakes,” “Better Together”), the serious, politically-charged (“Crying Shame,” “Good People”), the good love songs (“Do You Remember?) and the jilted love songs (“Sitting, Waiting, Wishing”).

2008: Sleep Through the Static, billed as “Jack Johnson gone electric,” an even calmer, lower-key record than he had ever produced before, one that takes some time to grow into.  This is a case of each individual song being great — played in order, the “chill” factor is too much at times.  Not the strongest note to end the decade on, but it leaves us with some wonderful tracks like “All At Once,” “If I Had Eyes,” “Go On,” and “They Do, They Don’t.”

JAPAN, THE GREEK, AND EN CONCERT

His career as a professional athlete — surfer — may have been brief, but Johnson hasn’t stopped moving in this career, either.

And there are the films to prove it.

Live in Japan is more than just a concert DVD; it is a documentary of the On and On tour.  Then, as if that wasn’t enough, comes A Weekend at the Greek, an even more interesting, visually stimulating documentary of two concert dates on the In Between Dreams tour.  I’ve seen a good number of rock documentaries and live DVDs over the years, and believe me when I say that the latter (The Greek) is perhaps the best I’ve seen.

En Concert, released last year, was the final Jack Johnson release of the decade, and his first CD/DVD combo.  Excellent, colorful booklet?  Check.  Great setlist?  Double check.  Some great guest duets?  Triple check (J Radio, Paula Fuga, and Vedder).

In any rock artist’s career, the ratio between studio albums and live albums must be carefully balanced.  From the outside, three live CDs and/or DVDs may seem excessive when held up against four studio recordings, but Jack Johnson somehow managed it.  He was smart to release Japan as a bonus disc with The Greek, and he held off on a companion CD until En Concert.  This was a rare circumstance of the overlap between smart marketing and an affordable, fan-friendly strategy.

WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS — COLLABORATIONS AND OTHER VENTURES

If this was all Johnson produced this decade, it would be more than enough.  However, he wasn’t content to stick to these traditional products alone.  He took on the task of recording the Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the film Curious George soundtrack, involving others like G. Love, Matt Costa, and Ben Harper.  This was not only a strong release, but also featured some of the strongest tracks of his career — “Upside Down” (his highest charting single at #38), “Broken,” “Wrong Turn” — as well as some of the silliest, albeit catchiest — “The Sharing Song” and “People Watching.”

Meanwhile, he continued his interest and involvement in independent films (he did graduate as a film major, after all!), contributed to numerous high profile tribute releases (“Mama, You Been on My Mind” for I’m Not There, “Imagine” for Instant Karma, “Someday at Christmas” for This Warm December), and nurtured the careers of the several artists on his Brushfire Records label.

My respect for Jack Johnson is multiplied when I consider how he accomplished all these things on his own in less than ten years.  He is a unique voice and sound in modern rock music, as well as a prolific artist, and as such, I was not surprised to hear that, a mere month into the new decade, he has already returned to the studio to work on his fifth album, due out in June 2010.

Even with my disappointment after Sleep Through the Static, I can already feel my anticipation building!