First up this week is John Mayer‘s EP “The Search for Everything – Wave 2“, the second installment of his new album which he is releasing 4 songs at a time. As I said in my previous blog, I like John Mayer. I think he’s a very talented musician, and his “Where The Light Is…” live album is on regular rotation on my work commute. I often find his studio recordings to be very over produced and “slick” sounding though and, in the case of some of his love songs, a little cheesy.
Whilst Wave 1 had songs that shone due to (like the wonderful “Changing”) and/or in spite of (in the case of single “Love on the Weekend”) the production, Wave 2 gives some perfect examples of the issues I have with his recorded work.
The opener, “Still Feel Like Your Man”, is a love song about struggling with a break up with falsetto (almost Prince-like) vocals. Some of the lyrics are cringe worthy (“I still keep your shampoo in the shower, incase you want to wash your hair… and as long as it’s still there I still feel like your man”) and if a normal person said things like that then I’m pretty sure counseling would be recommended. Music-wise the track isn’t actually that bad, over production aside. Mayer is using the backing band from his critically acclaimed album “Continuum”, the same line up that toured (and recorded a live album) as the blues-heavy John Mayer Trio so there’s some well constructed guitar parts, including a mini-solo, and the simple hook in the chorus is infectious so it’s not actually that bad after all. The second track, “Emoji of a Wave” is along similar lines and, although lyrically there’s much less cheese, I have the same praise and criticism as I did for the opener.
The stand out track on the EP is the funky and bluesy pop song “Helpless”, opening with a guitar riff reminiscent of the Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Runnin” and closing with a guitar solo. The EP closes with country pop track “Roll it on Home”. Lyrically it’s about drinking your sorrows away, following the same “taking a break up hard” theme as the opener, whereas musically it’s very upbeat with lots of slide guitar and jangly bits. Overall it’s a pretty solid collection of pop songs. The overproduction and the opening track let it down a little but it’s obviously not put me off too much as I’ve listened to this a lot this week (7:10).
Next up is the Aussie psychadelic rockers with the superb name, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, and the bizarrely titled “Flying Microtonal Banana“. The Gizzard (as I call them) are prolific when it comes to releasing music, yet somehow their output doesn’t seem to decline in quality. This is their 9th album since 2012, and the first of 5 (yes five) full length album releases in 2017, and it’s still excellent. Not quite as fantastic as last year’s “Nonagon Infinity”, but I consider that album to be a masterpiece and close to flawless. Firstly, this album feels more laid back than its predecessor, whilst also being much “trippier” with more experimentation and less full-on rock. The stand out tracks for me the infectious opener “Rattlesnake” and the mysterious sounding “Billabong Valley”. The former is much like songs from their previous effort, classic rock meets psychedelica, with a hint of Black Sabbath influence. “Billabong Valley”, features what I can only describe as an organ which sounds like bagpipes (which google tells me is a Turkish horn called the zurna) to create an atmospheric adventure into the desert of a faraway land! The whole album is quite an experience and it transports the listener away – I’ve never taken any mind altering substances, but with bands like this around Indont think I ever need to! 8/10
For British indie-rock band’s Los Campesinos! new effort “Sick Scenes“, I really don’t know what to say. It’s more of the same from a band whose sound hasn’t really progressed since they hit the scene with their breakthrough single “You! Me! Dancing!” way back in 2007. Don’t get me wrong, there are some stand out tracks on here (“I Broke Up in Amarante” and “5 Fluclocacillin” being my personal favourites) but there’s nothing new or particularly different here. If you already like the band, then you will like this. If you aren’t already familiar with the band, you’re better starting with their debut album “Hold On Now, Youngster” and working forward to this! (6/10)