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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
John Mayer

Rating: 5/10 ?

October 31, 2006
The plain grey cover should serve as a warning. While Continuum doesn't sound like the John Mayer we've come to love and tolerate, a shift in direction should be no surprise. What is shocking however, is the blanket of blandness covering each of the twelve new tracks.

The more blues-influenced numbers may please some (and, indeed Mayer's music prowess has improved from his "No Such Thing" days), but what I used to love about the youthful soft-rocker were his insecurities, passion and pop sensibilities. While a change of direction can be excused, how stereotypically "Lite FM" the majority of Continuum feels is overly irksome. Mayer's entire catalogue may be Top-40 material, but he has crossed the line into easily-offended, SUV-driving, white-mother-of-three fan territory. If you don't believe me, just head down to your local strip mall where the album's lead single, "Waiting on the World to Change," is already being piped into department stores. That should be proof enough.

I will easily concede that the particularly guilty-pleasure of Mayer's music has never been dangerous or innovative, but there was always a youthful edge and a tongue-in-cheek playfulness mixed in with his everyman honesty. But Mayer's youthful exuberance seems to have been outgrown since 2003's Heavier Things. In fact, he has grown up, and he is no longer a square. The main appeal of the rather charming looking singer-songwriter has always been the fact that he was, on the inside anyway, a total geek. Yeah, he may have been able to write "Your Body is a Wonderland," but other songs like "My Stupid Mouth," "Not Myself" and "Something's Missing" brought his insecurities and awkwardness to the surface, a move missing nearly completely from Continuum. This uncomfortable-in-his-own-skin mentality made Mayer appear more honest and, admittedly, enjoyable.

This change may just be because Mayer is no longer the nostalgic twenty-something he was when he cried out for his lunchbox on "1983." True, he is now older, wiser and perhaps a little more music industry savvy (the fact that last year's John Mayer Trio live album Try! was even released proves this last point), but John Mayer was never supposed to be deep and his attempts at tackling social-instead of personal-issues marks a turn for the worse.

The new Mayer croons about "waiting" for the world to change (which really fails to say anything much at all) and about gravity bringing him down, but without the endearing cheekiness and personality found in his older albums. Despite his rather decent b-side cover of Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary," his tamed version of Hendrix's "Bold of Love" may be the most cringe-worthy moment on the album. A studio version of JM3 track "Vultures" stands out, as does the bluesy ballad "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room," but highlights here are few and far between. In the end Continuum feels like little-more than the self-indulgent effort of a possibly-peaked pop star.

Reviewed by Natalie B. David
A fresh graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, in her spare time she can be found clumsily manipulating words and phrases for LAS and Beautiful/Decay magazine, hungering for sushi, naming inanimate objects or pondering the existence of stiletto heels. If you see her, you should buy her a cup of coffee because, chances are, she probably needs it.

See other reviews by Natalie B. David



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