Despite my best intentions, I found myself ready to forgive John Mayer and love his new album Born and Raised on first listen of “Queen of California”. While Battle Studies was utterly horrifying (and his cover of “I’m On Fire” nearly unforgivable) his latest record finds him stripped down with a country edge a la late era Eric Clapton. It’s a mellower affair, and “Queen of California” is a stand-out track, evident from its upbeat finger-picked beginning, to the nice country slide touches and the beautiful bridge that he throws into a couple verses (see :35 seconds in).  It’s commonplace to call John Mayer a narcissistic asshole, but plenty more rockstars have worn the title. With Born and Raised, Mayer may have finally found a way to channel his inner demons with a Ryan Adamsesque flavor.

Queen of California – John Mayer

You can grab the Double Vinyl for Born & Raised off of Mayer’s official site

The digital album can be found the conventional route on iTunes

LIYL: Eric Clapton, Ryan Adams

“Let Me Do It To You” is a gem off of J.J. Cales unheralded1976 album Troubadour. While the lyrics are simple and to the point, it’s the music and catchy melody that really shine here and though Eric Clapton would make a hit out of another track off this album, “Cocaine” you can see the foundation of the groove for Clapton’s own “Lay Down Sally” in this fun track. Clapton might have got the rhythm of Cale’s guitar-work down, but his covers are nowhere near as funky as these originals, check out the bouncing lead on “Cocaine” that I’ve included as a bonus below.

Let Me Do It To You- J.J. Cale
Cocaine- J.J. Cale

Heartache, Heartbreak

 

1. One Rainy Wish- Jimi Hendrix

One Rainy Wish- Jimi Hendrix

2. Back To Where I Started- Derek Trucks Band

Back Where I Started- Derek Trucks Band

3.  Promises- Eric Clapton

Promises- Eric Clapton

4. Caught by the River- Doves

Caught by the River- Doves

5. Every Night- Paul McCartney

Every Night- Paul McCartney

6. So You’re Leaving- Al Green

So You’re Leaving- Al Green

7. Jealous Guy- Donny Hathaway

Jealous Guy- Donny Hathaway

8. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)- Otis Redding

I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)- Otis Redding

9. Love In Vain- The Rolling Stones

Love In Vain- The Rolling Stones

10. Have You Ever Loved A Woman- Derek and the Dominoes

Have You Ever Loved A Woman (Live)- Derek And the Dominoes

11. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart- Al Green

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart- Al Green

12. Baby, Baby, Baby- Aretha Franklin

Baby, Baby, Baby- Aretha Franklin

13. I Want You- Bruce Springsteen

I Want You- Bruce Springsteen

14. Burning of the Midnight Lamp- Jimi Hendrix

Burning of the Midnight Lamp- Jimi Hendrix

15. Layla- Derek and the Dominoes

Layla- Derek and the Dominoes

16. This Love of Mine- Frank Sinatra

This Love Of Mine- Frank Sinatra

17. Breakin Up- G. Love

Breakin Up- G. Love

18. Oh Darling- The Beatles

Oh! Darling- The Beatles

19. In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning- Frank Sinatra

In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning- Frank Sinatra

Mixtape Monday: Naive Rainbows and Silver Souls

Heart of Glass (Blondie)- Brady Harris

The original was a disco meets new wave stylized single, this cover breathes new life into the melody and arrangement with mandolins banjos upright bass and a sublime guitar solo.  I’d never thought I’d hear a man cover Blondie so well.

Moment in the Sun- Clem Snide

I found this band by way of covers its lead singer (Eef Barzelay) had done.  Yet this original shows they are capable of more than just cover band fare, like a less grating R.E.M. with some vintage Rolling Stones guitar thrown in, this song builds and builds, your enjoyment growing along with it.

I’ve Got A Rock and Roll Heart- Eric Clapton

Most of you might recognize this song as being in the Fender myTouch commercial, and its a sweet song.  Clapton made a career of sunny eyed blues numbers like this, the hook is undeniable and the lyrics are heartfelt.

Silver Soul- Beach House

This song starts like a behemoth, the harmonies and organ and guitar providing an airy landscape, one of those songs meant for headphones, where you can be in your own world.

Regina Holding Hands- White Denim

The guitars draw you in, the vocals keep you, and the arrangement keeps it interesting for multiple listens.  Don’t sleep on this one.

Donna- Clem Snide

It’s a cover of a Ritchie Valens song, but this reading is so beautiful that it goes far beyond the label, the arrangement conveys heartbreak and the lyrics break your heart.

Camera Talk- Local Natives

Theeere Back! I just can’t get enough of this band, with their endlessly endearing vocals, creative and ever changing arrangements and strong hooks.

Rainbow- G. Love (With Jack Johnson)

Both are masters of the laid back acoustic vibe, so its no surprise how the arrangement plays out, whats special is their harmony, tight and organic, you can tell these guys really respect each other and they play off each other really well.

Grace is Gone- Dave Matthews Band

I’m not one to give DMB credit where they’re not due but this song is great.  The melody is classic, its sung beautifully, soft and understated with lyrics to match.

Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands- Phoenix

Phoenix covering one of the greatest songs Bob Dylan ever laid to tape, a late night brood of a song, they stay faithful to the original but its nice to hear someone else take it on.

Rich Girls- The Virgins

Swagger, this band has it,  from the arrangement to the singing down to the lyrics.  Think of an updated version of Some Girls era Rolling Stones, except straight from the heart of NYC.

Naive- The Kooks

The Kooks had so much energy on their debut that it was no surprise success caught on quickly, but the Kooks aren’t a flash in the pan, their melodies are tight their dynamics are perfect and they single-handedly carry guitar rock on their backs with the riffs in this song.

Mighty Mighty (Spade and Whitey)- Curtis Mayfield

Culled from the Curtis/Live album, MM S &W is a lesson in band dynamics with the drummer so deep in the pocket of the groove he makes Mitch Mitchell seem like an amateur, the harmonies are wonderfully placed with the guitar and this whole track just moves.  The beauty of Mayfield isn’t that his melodys go to crazy places, its the movement and inspiration within them, and on those terms theres no one better.

Sun King- The Beatles

Why this one in particular? In terms of its dreamy psychedelics and melodic fluidity, this song was the Holy Grail Pink Floyd chased their entire careers.

Mean Mr. Mustard- The Beatles

Weighing in at a little over a minute, its one of the catchiest songs The Beatles ever wrote.

Keep On Pushing- The Impressions

Why this song? Well Martin Luther King Jr. using it as inspiration for his civil rights goals is a sure good reason, and Curtis Mayfield greatly inspired Jimi Hendrix’s playing style on guitar, if you even needed another one.

Move On Up- Curtis Mayfield

Before Kanye West released Touch The Sky, there was the original song, the horns bright, the rhythm breakneck and the melody unstoppable.  Pure inspiration at its finest.