Music to Your Ears – Maroon 5, The Fratellis and Weezer

Yes, it’s been a bit of a time – much like last year, October and November see a dip in both quality of releases and my interest in them. Luckily, there were a handful of pick-ups you just have to hear from the last few weeks:

Maroon 5 – Red Pill Blues

I don’t want to lower my expectations for this album, but we all have to face the fact that while Maroon 5 has “grown” as a band, they’ve clearly distanced themselves from their original rock sound. This is definitively a product of the current pop scene, best represented by frontman Adam Levine’s extended stint on The Voice. While we can’t say any of the band members are untalented, particularly Levine, they’ve sort of sold out too. There’s nothing wrong in it, as I’ve always hoped for the greatest of successes for one of my favorite bands. The truth is that their first album, Songs About Jane will be the only truly ‘rock’ infused work by Maroon 5. From then on they were reaching for the stars, and now that they’ve gotten there, they’re sort of dull. Sure, they’ve got massive hits, but the hooks propelling them are more intriguing when their guests join in (Kendrick Lamar in “Don’t Wanna Know”, SZA in “What Lovers Do”, Julia Michaels in “Help Me Out”). I’m sure the boys are still as talented as ever, they just don’t get a good showcase here – particularly James Valentine, so good on the first two or three albums, but pushed to the background by boops and whistles. At least he’s rich beyond his wildest dreams. Also, I can’t hate on Adam Levine if he’s willing to dress as a mascot bug to reference Kafka in his videos. The guys are still a least a little clever.

Key Tracks: Denim Jacket / Girls Like You / Don’t Wanna Know

The Fratellis – “The Next Time We Wed”

As the harbingers of the Chicago Blackhawks’ approaching dynasty, “Chelsea Dagger” was played constantly for the six years that team dominated the National Hockey League. Hoping to avoid one-hit wonder status, The Fratellis have plugged away touring and writing music, turning up now with their first single from the upcoming In Your Own Sweet Time, out March 9th next year. While it doesn’t have that hammer hook shout along of the older track, this is still a fun time. “Give me half a chance and you can be my next obsession”. Knowing that major radio stations have latched on to Fitz and the Tantrums and Portgual the Man in recent years for their “indie rock of the month” this has a chance to catch on over the winter months as a bit of an alternative infatuation to your moody Taylor Swift driven journeys.

Weezer – Pacific Daydream

Weezer has long made it a tradition to throw caution to the wind and make the same damn album nearly every year since 2008. They’ve been riding the coattails of their much better early work, which can seem to be the same thing as what I accused Maroon 5 of doing above. That, of course, is different here as I believe Weezer doesn’t really care about their public image, instead turning in song after song about lazy beach rock, reveling in their ability to maintain the mundane. That being said, they’re phenomenal live performers, and to churn out such dreck does not diminish the concerts they endow upon us. Of course, there’s still highlights to be had here, which entitle them to a few more songs in their playlists. Rivers Cuomo will live it up as long as he can, and more power to him – it’s almost as if he’s trolled us all into realizing Weezer is still a legitimate rock band.

Key Tracks: Weekend Woman / Feels Like Summer


That’s it – hopefully the rest of November picks up the same, but if it doesn’t, don’t fret – you can look forward to the Music Bracket Challenge, where you can pick which songs are the best of 2017! I’ve mentioned it in three previous articles, where I’ve chosen the best of each season:

 

When December rolls around, we’ll have a final twenty to add in to the mix, and from those four chapters we’ll cull four each to make a sweet sixteen symphony! I’m looking forward to it hopefully as much as you will be, so stay tuned!

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