Review: John Mayer’s Paradise Valley

People have been hating on Mayer in recent months. Including me. But let’s take a step back and think about what we are really doing when we criticize his work: we are assessing it based on what he has already released and what we’ve come to expect and like—a poppy, rock sound with good hooks, but most importantly, solid lyrics from the heart. Nothing too witty, just true.

Musically, Paradise Valley must be judged on its own merit. It’s different—as different as Born and Raised. Stylistically, I’d call it easy listening. Closer to Rod Stewart than Ed Sheeran. It’s not my first choice in style, but I could see myself chilling to this record, if the mood warranted it.
Lyrically, on first listen, I dare day this is a return to the thoughtful Mayer we all once loved. No repeating a single phrase for an entire chorus. He sounds genuine again. Not over-worked and striving to please.
When I listen to this, and John’s last album, I can’t help but think of the song Stop This Train and how it was really a foretelling of his emerging sound.
I suspect I’ll be streaming this album a lot when it drops. Thank you, Mr. Mayer, for coming back to us, even if your label’s marketing department failed you on designing your album cover.
Stream Paradise Valley for free this week on iTunes:

New Music Review: Phoenix’s Bankrupt!

You’ve gotta know something.

This week, I’m really diggin’ Phoenix’s new album, Bankrupt!

And who ever said that nothing good comes from France anymore? Well thanks to this group, you can’t say their music isn’t any good. Next observation: these Frenchman sing in English. Again, what kind of French dudes are these? Well, I’ll tell you: darn cool ones.

Their new album is exploding with synths.  The vocals and harmonizations remind me a lot of psychedelic Beatles era stuff, and the synths bring me back to early 90’s pop. Catchy, in-your-face. Michael Jackson-esque, at times.

But strap yourself in because this album is *loud*. Probably too loud. Wait… I’m listening to “S.O.S” right now… This album is definitely too loud. Yeah, ear fatigue, as they call it. Check it out. But be warned: it’s best played quietly, cuz this stuff will smash your brains in from both ears.

Take a deep breath when track six comes (Bankrupt!). It’s a much-needed ear break. And sounds pretty dang cool, too. It also helps that one of these guys knows music theory.

Here’s a link to the album on iTunes:!-deluxe/id602320012