Quarter Life Crisis
The Mayer of Cooltown
John's back with his third studio album, "Continuum" which is set to be released on September 12, 2006. However thanks to some studio trickery from good friend of mine, I have an advanced copy (don't worry John & Columbia Records, we'll all still be buying the real album when it comes out). You can go preview it for yourself here at Clear Channel Music
So far I'm highly impressed. Twelve solid tracks of great pop/jazz/blues/rock. A lot of you have already heard "Waiting on the World to Change" or seen the video. Guess what? That's not even close to the best song on the album. I'm personally huge a fan of "Belief", a Sting-esque, medium paced song with a driving beat. Not too heavy and not to soft, with a great chorus and a slick guitar solo. Meaningful lyrics as well.
"Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" is another new favorite. A slow bluesy ballad with a similar feel to "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton. This one promises to unbelievable live. John seems to agree with me on that premise.
"I built so many corners into these songs I cannot wait to play them live - I've been imagining myself on stage playing 'Slow Dancing in a Burning Room' for the last six months."
Here's a few more notable quotes from John on the new album:
"This is the first endeavor in my entire life, music or otherwise, that I did not cop out for a second on."
"It's meant to shed a little light on inactivity and inaction." -John Mayer, on his newest single "Waiting on the World to Change"
"The night I was recognized for 'Daughters' at the Grammys was the night this record started."
As if his song writing and musicianship aren't bad ass enough, this is his first shot at producing as well. Not to mention he's an all around cool guy. I've heard him on quite a few radio and TV interviews, read a lot of print interviews, as well as his blog and I get the impression that he's a pretty fucking smart guy. He's the type of dude I'd like to hang out with on a cool autumn evening in NYC and just bar hop and listen to some cool new music.
My only complaint (which I share with my friend Bryan) about the new disc is that there aren't enough upbeat songs. It's a bit too mellow overall. I really would have liked to hear "Try" from the JM3 album on there instead of "Vultures". I think at least two more ass-kicking blues tracks would have really made this album complete. The cover of "Bold as Love" by Jimi Hendrix while really good, just isn't enough to satisfy.
Time to Put Bob in a Home
Bob Dylan, what can you say about him that already hasn't been said. How about this:
Over-rated, senile old coot, whiny baby, disillusioned, angry, horrible vocalist (OK, I'm sure that's been said already), etc.
You get my drift. Let me step back for a bit and say that I do like a couple of Bob Dylan songs, and respect both his song writing ability and what he's done for music. That being said, all of the previous above comments are true, IMHO. Before anyone jumps down my throat regarding this, let me toss out a few Dylan quotes from a recent RS article
“You listen to these modern records, they’re atrocious…there’s no definition…” - Bob Dylan
"I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past twenty years, really" - Bob Dylan
"Well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway." - Dylan, on whether or not people should be able to download music for free.
"There’s no stature to it” - Dylan, commenting on the physical size of a compact disc.
Really Bob, is that all you've got? He goes on to note- like many an old crusty codger before him convinced that the world in his time was better and railing against the quality of today's recordings.
These are obviously all blanket statements, but I have a feeling old Bob really means it. I'd like to be sure he's speaking specifically about the "sonic quality" of the recordings and not the talent or song writing ability, but I'm not so sure. Of course Cd's have their limitations, that's hard to argue.
For example: A digital recording is actually just samples of real (analog) audio. It's just a lot of samples per second. Currently the industry standard sample rate for digital audio is 44.1 kHz, or 44,100 samples of audio per second. Each sample of audio is a distinct piece of digital information that is stored as data and has a resolution of 16 bits. In audio, bits are the number of ones and zeroes used to describe the amplitude of analog wave form through Pulse Code Modulation. The more bits there are the more accurately the original analog waveform is represented.
I could get into much greater technical detail on all this digital audio stuff (the Nyquist theory & frequency response of human hearing, compression algorithms, loss of harmonics, anti-aliasing filters, etc) but the bottom line is that digital audio will never be as true to the original sounds coming out of the instruments as analog (vinyl or cassette) will. So in part, I agree with Bob.
Now that all that is out of the way, Bob is still insane. Modern music formats (CD, SACD, DVD, and other digital audio formats) are all crystal clear. Only trained professionals or audiophiles on a very good stereo or in a studio setting can differentiate between vinyl and CD. The average music listener hears music in their car, on headphones, or on computer speakers all of which cannot replicate the delicate details in a recording the way they are heard in the studio or on a premium stereo.
I'm not quite sure what Bob's big problem is here. Yes there is a harshness to Cd's due to some of the digital audio processing I mentioned above, but I'd like to see Dylan put a record player in his car. Or for him to take a jog and listen to music by strapping a turntable to his waist. Oh and by the way Bob, make sure you keep your records constantly at room temperature with low humidity so they don't warp. And make sure to keep them lint and scratch free by cleaning the vinyl before each play so they don't skip.
Eventually, I will buy a record player and get some classic albums on vinyl. Stuff that's meant to be listened to on vinyl like, "Darkside of the Moon", or "Abbey Road", or "Led Zeppelin IV". But for now Cd's seem to be doing alright by everyone but Mr. Dylan.
And I hope he's not talking about studio techniques. There is more control over the recording process now than you could ever imagine. You can tweak just about every element of sound now in a studio, whereas back in the day you got 6 mics and a two track stereo reel to reel tape recorder and went at it. Not an easy way to record. And if you hate modern recording techniques, I know there are some great studios out there with vintage tape machines, tube compressors, reverb plates, some great old handmade microphones and a nice big great sounding room you can record in.
I seriously hope Bob's not talking about the quality of music either. While I will agree that Rock n' Roll and music in general will most likely never be as good as it was in it's heyday, there are plenty of great new artists out there making good stuff. You just have to look a little harder for them. Let me remind Bob of some of the "atrocious" recordings of the past 20 years that he seems to look down upon so mightily from his high-horse:
“Joshua Tree” - U2
“Ten” - Pearl Jam
“Graceland” - Paul Simon
“Harvest Moon” - Neil Young
“OK Computer” - Radiohead
"Grace" - Jeff Buckley
"Nevermind" - Nirvana
"Appetite For Destruction" - Guns n' Roses
"Odelay" - Beck
Just a few that I thought I'd mention.
There was a famous man who once wrote "Oh the times they are a changin'". I think that famous man was named Bob Dylan. Maybe it's time to heed your own words you old coot.
Poop Joke Ahead
Three Old Guys
"Sixty is the worst age to be," said the 60-year-old man. "You always feel like you have to pee and most of the time you stand there and nothing comes out."
"Ah, that's nothin," said the 70-year-old. "When you're seventy, you don't have a bowel movement any more. You take laxatives, eat bran, sit on the toilet all day and nothin' comes out!"
"Actually," said the 80-year old, "Eighty is the worst age of all."
"Do you have trouble peeing, too?" asked the 60-year old.
"No, I pee every morning at 6:00. I pee like a racehorse on a flat rock; no problem at all."
"Soooo, you have a problem with your bowel movement?"
"No, I have one every morning at 6:30."
Exasperated, the 60-year-old said, "You pee every morning at 6:00 and crap every morning at 6:30. So what's so bad about being 80?"
"I don't wake up until 7:00"
I've received this e-mail forward at least three times this year and I don't know if I've ever passed it around or not, so I decided I'll go ahead and post it here. Doing so will also give me the opportunity to clarify that it's "Bill Maher's New Rules" and not "George Carlin's New Rules" as each of the previous e-mail forwards has erroneously stated.
And I personally believe, regardless of our particular political affiliations or whether or not you like Bill Maher, we can all pretty much agree on these.
New Rule: Stop giving me that pop-up ad for classmates.com! There's a reason you don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days: mowing my lawn.
New Rule: Don't eat anything that's served to you out a window (drive thru) unless you're a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy's chili. Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain? Trout?
New Rule: Stop saying that teenage boys who have sex with their hot, blond teachers are permanently damaged. I have a better description for these kids: lucky bastards.
New Rule: If you need to shave and you still collect baseball cards, you're a dope. If you're a kid, the cards are keepsakes of your idols. If you're a grown man, they're pictures of men.
New Rule: Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: do you have two of them? Okay, we're done.
New Rule: There's no such thing as flavored water. There's a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket, water, but without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That's your flavored water.
New Rule: Stop fucking with old people. Target is introducing a redesigned pill bottle that's square, with a bigger label; the top is now the bottom. And by the time grandpa figures out how to open it, his ass will be in the morgue. Congratulations, Target, you just solved the Social Security crisis.
New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n'-Low and one NutraSweet," Oooh, you're a huge asshole.
New Rule: I'm not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering my PIN number, pressing "Enter," verifying the amount, deciding, no, I don't want cash back, and pressing "Enter" again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my Almond Joy.
New Rule: Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your ass and it translates to "beef with broccoli." The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. You're not spiritual. You're just high.
New Rule: Competitive eating isn't a sport. It's one of the seven deadly sins. ESPN recently televised the US Open of Competitive Eating, because watching those athletes at the poker table was just too damned exciting. What's next, competitive farting? Oh wait. They're already doing that. It's called "The Howard Stern Show."
New Rule: I don't need a bigger mega M&M. If I'm extra hungry for M&Ms, I'll go nuts and eat two.
New Rule: If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens. Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is that the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie.
New Rule: No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it's for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking out the stuff you want and having other people buy it for you isn't gift giving, it's the white people's version of looting.
Sorry, But I've Gotta Do It Again
Picture courtesy of Rina Wear
Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager
This is definitely worth watching if you have ever even seen Star Wars.UPDATE:
See episode two of Chad Vader here
This is All I Have to Say...
... about last nights game, as well as a couple of others this year.
Picture courtesy of Rina Wear
Awesome Music Bits
OK. So after I decide to take a break from blogging because I had nothing exciting to talk about, an abundance of music related news and discoveries drop into my lap. So I'll post. Back to basics.
First off, if you are even remotely a fan of music, you have to check out this site.Pandora
Unbelievable man. It is by far one of the coolest music websites I've ever come across. Simply enter the name of a song or artist that you like, and utilizing a massive database and complex search algorithms it will create a customized play-list of similar music based on the song or artist you input. It incorporates all sorts of different recognizable qualities of a song or artist into each query. Using values like melody, harmony, tempo, beats per minute, vocal style, key, instrumentation, arrangement, etc, it will find songs that are strikingly similar to the song or artist that was input regardless of genre. What makes it even better... you get to decide if they are doing a good job or not by voting a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" to each song within a given search. Give it a thumbs down if you think it doesn't belong in the group on which the search was based, and they won't play it anymore on that particular search. Here's a snippet of how they explain it:
Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like.
Over the past 6 years, we've carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists - ranging from popular to obscure - and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as we endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world.
I discovered quite possibly the cheapest place on the Internet to download MP3's.AllofMP3.com
Most download-able songs on the net are ranging between 70 and 99 cents per song on places like Itunes, Napster, Rhapsody, etc. How about a place where you could get them for oh, I don't know, like 07 CENTS PER SONG! Or $1.50 FOR AN ENTIRE ALBUM! And I'm not talking shitty obscure garage bands here either. Some of the top artists in music on this site. You can even select your quality and audio format. Check it out. I just downloaded a 6 song EP the other day for 83 cents.
Still more music news...
For those of you who didn't know yet, my favorite local band The Formula Kid
, is no more. They will release the album they were working on, and most likely play one more show when it comes out, but Drew Johnson
the driving force behind the band is burnt out. From here on out he'll be focusing on writing and recording solo material, which I will be looking forward to.
Until then check out this guy:Dave Barnes (official site)Dave Barnes (MySpace site)
He sounds a lot like Drew vocally and has a musical style that can't be described, much like the Formula Kid. Somewhere between jazz, blues, rock, country, and pop. I can hear Steely Dan, Jackson Browne, John Mayer, Michael Buble, Rascal Flatts, Gavin DeGraw, DMB, and even old school blues rock influences via his Mississippi / Nashville upbringing. It's really very good musically. John Mayer seems to like it
(read his 7/6/06 post).
Speaking of geniuses...BT has a video trailer out for his new project
(just click the view video link). I'll go out on a limb and say it looks like fucking Fantasia for the 21st century. An electronic symphony combined with stunning visual imagery. This is big man. More and more, musicians are doing things in a multimedia format. This may be the benchmark for all that follows hereafter. (You can also check this out on his official
No really I mean FINALLY, the "Supergroup" Army of Anyone (Richard Patrick from Filter and the DeLeo bros from STP) have an active website up with some tracks from the new album. I'm excited!! Check them out on, yep, you guessed it...Army of Anyone (official site)Army of Anyone (Myspace site)
There! I posted something of quality and value! Everyone happy now?