Music Review: John Mayer’s New Live Album is Not So New, Not So Desirable

Originally posted 2008-07-04 23:25:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

This live album by Mayer is perhaps, in terms of new music, the biggest disappointment of the year for me.  Being a John Mayer fan from the beginning, I have never quite been able to understand the degree of praise he has received for going back to the blues roots.  Yes, he is an excellent guitarist, and I am happy that more people are giving him the respect he deserves.  But he was always an energetic, talented guitarist – recall “Neon” as merely one of many examples.  I was unimpressed with the John Mayer Trio – its minimalist setup and apparent reference to the great rock trios of the seventies (Jimi Hendrix Experience comes to mind) has always seemed out of place to me when considering the depth of Mayer’s vocals and instrumental components on his studio recordings.  Then, Continuum was released, and I was truly befuddled.  It wasn’t so much that I disliked this new album – though I did and do find it lackluster at most turns – but this new album garnered such an exaggeratedly positive response.  Based on Rolling Stone magazine’s review, one might expect that this was John Mayer’s most amazing album to date and perhaps one of the most significant albums of the year.

This brings us to current day, 2008, and the release of Where The Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles.  As I entered my local music retail store, I headed for the CD section, knowing that the live album had just been released.  I had decided the night before, when I first learned of its release, that I would not purchase it.  I made this decision, knowing full well that, once I enjoy one or two albums from any given artist, I usually end up buying all their subsequent releases.  However, I thought to myself, what if they lose my interest entirely?  In the case of John Mayer, it wasn’t so much a branching out and changing of his style that concerned me – it was and is my perception that he has regressed as a songwriter.

When I saw the live album, I almost bought it.

The packaging itself is solid – a live concert in three sections: an acoustic solo set, a John Mayer Trio set, and a full band set.  The acoustic set alone intrigued me; “Stop This Train” is one of my few favorites from Continuum, “Daughters” would work perfectly in this type of arrangement, and Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” is one of my favorite songs.

So, I had picked it up, and looking it over, the desire to buy it was creeping in.  Then I read the second section – the Trio set.  Five of the eight songs in this portion were featured in the John Mayer Trio live album.  What could be so significantly different about these performances?  Of the final nine songs in the full band set, all but two were songs from Continuum.  The other two included “Why Georgia,” one of my favorite songs by Mayer, and a Ray Charles cover.  Why would I want to hear a live set of songs from an album that I was unimpressed with?

Saddened and, truthfully, disappointed, I placed the CD back on the rack.  I can’t say I will never listen to Where The Light Is, but I can say with certainty that I will not purchase it myself.  And that makes me very sad, as Mayer had quickly become one of my favorite new music artists on the scene a few years ago.  For perhaps the first time in my young, CD-collecting life, I have left an artist behind.  He may be off to new work with the blues community, but I’m off to listen to his lesser-appreciated work – the charming and spirited Inside Wants Out EP, the instant hit Room For Squares, and even the follow-up effort Heavier Things.  For me, those albums had it all – solid songwriting and great guitar work.

At most, I may return to Continuum and try to figure out what exactly it is that I have missed.

Bob Dylan Discography: 1961 – 1969

Originally posted 2008-06-25 22:40:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

A couple years ago, a friend at work asked me for some information about Bob Dylan and his work in the 1960s. Little did she know I would not only give her son as much verbal information as he required, but I would also type up a brief discography of his albums. I just came across it today, and I figured I would share it with you all!

Bob Dylan Discography

– The Sixties

1961 – January: Moves to New York

1962 – March: Bob Dylan

-Very folky album, mostly comprised of covers. His early original “Song to Woody” (for his hero, Woody Guthrie) is notable.

1963 – May: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

-His first big success and one of his true classics! This is the album that made bands like the Beatles stand up and take notice of him.

1964 – January: The Times They Are A-Changin’

-Deep in the heart of his “protest song” era, this topical album solidified his standing with the folk artists of the 1960’s.

August: Another Side of Bob Dylan

-In this album, Dylan’s desire to break away from topical songs and write more personal material—“My Back Pages,” etc.—becomes evident.

1965 – March: Bringing It All Back Home

-Dylan begins to “go electric” with this half acoustic, half electric album.

August: Highway 61 Revisited

-This is where Dylan pulled out all the stops and made a sound that was all his own. Best known for its lead-off song, “Like A Rolling Stone.”

1966 – May: Blonde on Blonde

-Dylan pushes his sound a step further with this album; widely considered to be among the (if not THE) best album of his career.

1967 – December: John Wesley Harding

-Following his motorcycle accident in 1966 and the cancellation of his upcoming tour dates, fans were somewhat thrown by his return to a more folky sound.

1968 –

Records in a basement with the Band; those widely bootlegged takes were later
released as The Basement Tapes

1969 – April: Nashville Skyline

-Making the transformation complete, he released this country rock album with a new version of “Girl of the North Country” (originally from Freewheelin’) as a duet with Johnny Cash.

CD Review: Tegan and Sara’s “So Jealous”

Originally posted 2008-06-29 13:23:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

RATING:  3 / 5 stars

By Chris Moore:

So Jealous brings to mind the definition of a three star album.

If one star indicates one’s ability to record an album and five stars suggests one’s talent for producing superior, impressive music, then three stars is a rating for a good album. In this case, Tegan and Sara have found a unique sound for themselves and embraced it. It is a good album that I have enjoyed—I am arguably biased in their favor, as my first two listenings took place on a two and a half mile stretch of I-91 during a major traffic jam; they saved me from utter boredom and frustration.

Yes, it is a good album. Does it demonstrate the musical genius of Brian Wilson? Does it compete for poetic excellence with the Wallflowers? Does it draw you in entirely, body and soul, as Jack Johnson’s new album can? The answer to these questions is an honest “no.”

This being said, I have learned that one cannot expect miracles out of every album ever made.

Tegan and Sara’s greatest strength lies in their ability to combine acoustic and electric elements. The first track demonstrates their very catchy sound as it builds from an acoustic song to an all-out electrified jam. And they sound good together. The combination of their voices is a blend that is pleasing to the ear.

For the most part, the songs are successful—memorable, even. This is not an album with one or two good songs and the remainder a void of throwaways. After all, how can one resist their cries for the subject of one song to “take me anywhere”? Or ignore their quiet, though authoritative pleas for another not to “get so uptight,” then to “Go away!”?

They have chosen to incorporate basic harmonies, which is a good choice for their vocal blend. Even their slower songs have a backbeat that drives them simply—as is the case with their vocals—yet effectively.

The most significant factor in my mediocre rating of this album lies in their one notable flaw—repetition. On several tracks, they tend to take the same chorus, albeit a well-written, catchy chorus, and repeat it too many times. Ending some songs earlier or expanding the lyrics would have significantly improved the flow of the album.

I truly believe that they have it in them to write better songs. Actually, I should say they have it in them to better the songs they have already written. “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” “I Bet It Stung,” “I Won’t Be Left,” “Walking With A Ghost,” and “Fix You Up” are strong tracks and very good songs. They are performed in a heartfelt manner by two talented young songwriters who are perhaps a couple of the world’s last, best hopes for successful women artists in the music industry. They write their own songs, play their own instruments, are entirely clothed in all their pictures, and criticisms aside, have produced a thoroughly enjoyable album.


“For My Lady” (Moody Blues Cover)

Originally posted 2008-08-23 14:30:42. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to yet another edition in the session-a-day project at the best acoustic cover song music blog on the web! Yes, that’s right, we don’t post a cover once a week or a music video every once in a while like most other sites — no, we have committed ourselves to posting one cover song a day in 2008. (And, if it goes much longer then that, we’ll probably end up committing ourselves. Not to another “session-a-day” project, just “committing.” And not to a relationship. I mean like to an institution for the mentally unstable!)

That’s how hard we work around these parts…

But, let’s get down to acoustic cover song business. Today, I bring you my second track from one of my favorite bands, the Moody Blues. “For My Lady” holds a special place in my heart for a couple reasons. First, it is on their Seventh Sojourn album, which is one of their first seven concept albums — one of my favorite collections of all time. But second, and more personal, is the fact that this is the very first song that Jim, Mike, Becky, and I learned and performed live together as a band. It was the first of many and happened long before Cliff came into the picture. By the time Masters of the Universe came together we had long forgotten how to play this song (and, by we, I mean me and probably Becky too, and maybe even Mike, but not Jim!) and it was only played once at Jim’s parents’ anniversary party.

And now it is officially added to the list of acoustic cover songs available here at the Laptop Sessions. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you hurry back tomorrow for another great cover song music video by Jeff…

See you next session…