Released Today — Maroon 5: Hands All Over

I’m nothing if not a bit stubborn. Okay, kind of more than a bit. I have a tendency to judge books by covers. I tend to judge bands by one or two singles played every 48 minutes in some radio station’s rotation. This habit of mine means I kind of miss out on a lot.

This is the case with John Mayer. I hated “Your Body Is A Wonderland” – I hated it even worse once someone told me that during sound check, he would sing it as “Your body is a taco stand.” I mean, it’s kind of funny. But. Really, JM. No. But then I saw him live – and was BLOWN. AWAY. And now? Huge fan. Of his music and his writing, anyway. But really, I would have missed out if I had written him off from the Wonderland/Taco Stand debacle. I’d have missed out on “In Your Atmosphere” and “Heart of Life” – and that’d have been seriously bad.

Same case with Maroon 5. Last summer, they were touring with the Counting Crows – it was a double bill – and they alternated opening for the other. Some nights, CC would open, some nights M5 would open. The night of the show, I said, “Man, I hope Counting Crows open so that I don’t have to stay for the whole show. It’s a long drive home.”

And Counting Crows opened. I was all set to duck out midway through Maroon 5’s set.

Then they came out and put on a phenomenal show. And when they sang “I Won’t Go Home Without You”, the venue was lit by the glow of thousands of cell phone faces (which I think is way cooler than lighters, because hello? I can’t be the only one who has been afraid the person behind me would slip and set me on fire, and I don’t smoke and I don’t carry a lighter so I always felt kinda left out).

And since then? Yep. I’m a fan.

So, when I received the opportunity to preview Maroon 5’s new album “Hands All Over“*, I kind of jumped at the chance. And it’s been on perma-rotation in my ear for the past few days.

This album is totally alike and different than Maroon 5’s previous releases. My gut reaction is that this wasn’t a huge departure from anything they’ve ever done – I stand by that – this sound is still recognizably Maroon 5. The lyrics are still pretty typical fare from their frontman, Adam Levine.

What’s new this time around? Well, producer “Mutt” Lange, for one. If that name sounds familiar, it should. He is the former hubby of Shania Twain (and yeah, he produced A LOT of her music). These songs are polished and clean. This is definitely an accessible album – very radio-friendly, catchy, hook-filled tunes. Infectious melodies.

One of the album’s standouts for me was the greatest departure from their trademark sound – “Out of Goodbyes”, their collaboration with country crossover group, Lady Antebellum. The slowed down country feel and harmonies doesn’t scream “MAROON 5!” to me – but… I love it, nonetheless. Or maybe because of it.

The first single, “Misery” is undeniably Maroon 5 – evoking to me, their sound on “This Love” — this is what I expect and know (and like) from Maroon 5.

There are very few low points to this album – the title song “Hands All Over” was my least favorite track – but so many songs on this album (“Just a Feeling”, “I Can’t Lie”, “Stutter”, “Out of Goodbyes”) were so immensely likable, I don’t doubt this album will be getting a lot of play on my iPod.

*affiliate link

A review copy of this album was received but the opinions as always are my own.

Thursday Ten: Skipping Spring and Going Straight To Summer Edition

1. Um, spring? Hello? Helllllooooooo. We had winter and then a few springlike days and then WHAMMO! It’s 80 degrees plus today. Last week, sweaters. This week, shorts. I’m kind of bummed, because I love the “in between” weather – the breezy, spring like “not too hot not too cold” temperatures that make me so happy. Welcome to Michigan, I suppose.

2. I was recently sent the One eskimO cd to review. On a scale of one to five, this album earns a 3.5. It’s amazing background music to listen to while working – it’s definitely mellow and there are some pretty layers and texture to the songs – my favorite cuts from this album are Givin Up and Astronauts. One eskimO has toured with Tori Amos and is now opening up on tour for another one of my favorites, Michael Franti & Spearhead. It’s definitely worth a listen – it’s available via the usual suspects (Amazon, iTunes…).

3. Pumpkin had a meltdown before my guitar lesson today – she went so far as to pretend as though she was going to bite my arm. You know, I didn’t realize how effective my “stern mommy face” was until that moment because boy howdy – she stopped in her tracks and grabbed on to me for a hug. Just from the mom eyes.

4. American Idol’s Final Two – Crystal and Lee… Y’all saw that coming, right? I have to say, I favor Lee – which is why I hope Crystal wins. The winner never really gets to put out “the right album” for them. Lee kind of has a bit of a Howie Day Collide vibe to me (or even Matt Nathanson-ish). I love acoustic-y singer-songwriter types — and so I hope that is what he’s able to release when he puts his album together.

5. If you didn’t see my post yesterday, you can enter HERE to win a Hanes Pink t-shirt (deadline next week Wednesday). Over on BD, there’s a Susan Wiggs book giveaway along with a $100 Visa Cash Card (deadline tomorrow a.m.).  So, if you haven’t entered to win stuff, you should totally get to it.

6. In guitar class, I’m working on Counting Crows’ “Shallow Days” – which is from the demo of “August and Everything After”. The song didn’t make the original album, but I still love it. I’m not surprised it didn’t make the final cut on AAEE, because it wouldn’t have fit in with that grouping of songs, but on its own, it works.

7. Someone from my high school graduating class posted a picture the other day of all the girls from our graduating class from prom. BOY, prom dresses used to cover a WHOLE lot more than they do today! Some of us probably could have worn those dresses outside in the middle of December and not been cold!

8. I haven’t seen any movies in awhile and was looking to rent something via iTunes – what’s good? Any recommendations?

9. The Princess’s teacher is on maternity leave. I was hoping she’d make it until the end of the school year (just a few weeks remaining), but she emailed me today to tell me that her doctors say she’s done for the year. And… I actually cried. We’ve been so lucky to have such an amazing teacher for The Princess – and truly, we’ll miss her. I did email her back and asked if she’d ever thought about teaching third grade. Hmmmm.

10. Planning my menu for the following week ahead of time is usually pretty great unless the weather changes and you end up with cold weather comfort food scheduled on a day that your temps are in the low 80s. Meatloaf? Ugh.

Yes, those were affiliate links.

Makes Me Wonder

Last night, we ventured on over to the other side of the state for the Counting Crows/Maroon 5 concert that I have been waiting for for the past several months. I have loved Counting Crows pretty much since their first album dropped, and it is still in very heavy rotation in my music library because it is almost perfection (with the exception of the song “Time and Time Again” which I just don’t like and never have).

The only other time I’ve seen CC in concert was my junior year of college and it was an amazing show – somehow, in between then and now I hadn’t had the opportunity to see them live (last year they were in town – but the show was on Pumpkin’s birthday, and I just couldn’t bring myself to miss my kiddo’s birthday). I have purchased and adored every album from their first to their latest, “Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings” (amazing, amazing, amazing – by the way), and I worship Adam Duritz’s song writing abilities. That man can make words do amazing things. When the show was announced, I instantly made plans to get tickets ASAP.

It’s an odd ticket – I have to say – because most people I know like one band or the other – either you love Counting Crows and are meh about Maroon 5 (like me) or the other way around. The audience of the show last night seemed to reflect that theory.

Upon arriving at the venue, we found out that Augustana was the opening act. I about peed my pants because “Boston” is one of my favorite songs (It’s in my top five played songs in iTunes), and the thought of hearing it live made my night completely. I enjoyed their whole set – and will (I’m sure) have more iTunes purchases to report by Thursday.

Counting Crows were up next (which I was relieved about). I wanted to see the whole CC set, but knew we had a two hour drive home and didn’t want to cut their set short. I happened to feel a little less guilty about ducking out of Maroon 5 early. They opened with “Goodnight LA” and followed with several other favorites, including “Mr. Jones”, “Mercury, “A Long December” and the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil”. Oddly enough, the only song from their new album that they performed was “Washington Square” – and that kind of bummed me out. All in all, their set was pretty mellow – and I’d kind of been looking forward to hearing “1492” (or, as I jokingly call it, “The Tranny Whore” song)… and they didn’t play “Anna Begins” either, and that’s one of my all time favorites.

Between sets, I was checking email and playing on my phone and trying to update Twitter. The downside was that the more people in the arena, the slower my phone got (dang!), and it was crazy and impossible.

Maroon 5 opened their set with “This Love” (yay! A song I knew) and their lead singer was drenched with sweat by the second song – I’m talking serious pit-circles (ANTIPERSPIRANT? Hello??? At the very least, he’s surely able to afford those armpit Botox injections that curb excessive sweating). But despite my not being familiar with their song catalog, I really enjoyed their version of “I Won’t Go Home Without You”, during which the lead singer had everyone pull out their cell phones instead of lighters to light up the night – which was actually a very cool looking thing, and I wish I’d taken a picture.

Long drive home and not enough sleep and now I’m sleepwalking.

Thursday Ten, Is Summer Over YET?

1. I took my girls to story time at a nearby teacher’s house. Weekly, she has story time on her front porch which is this huge veranda-type deal. Today, Pumpkin took a book with her (“Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear?”). The teacher let her come sit in the guest-reader chair and held the microphone so that Pumpkin could “read” to everyone. She got shy and only said some of the words but it was still so adorable. I took lots of pictures. If it was anyone else’s kid, though, it might not have been as adorable.

2. The Princess’s elementary school is undergoing construction and won’t be cleared for public inhabitance (?) until the 29th. They are having meet-the-teacher day on the 28th. Outside. I am more than a little annoyed that they couldn’t have postponed the teacher meet event until the afternoon of the 29th so that not only could the kids MEET their teacher, but find their classroom as well. The Princess will ultimately be fine, but she’s mentioned more than once that she’s a little nervous because she doesn’t know where her new room will be. These are kindergartners and first graders at this school – they really should have thought this one through a little bit more. My kid can’t be the only nervous one.

3. Since I’m on a school rant – we received her teacher assignment the yesterday. I requested this particular teacher at Hubby’s request as it was his teacher when he was in first grade. I’ve heard lovely things about her, and The Princess will rock no matter who teaches her — but, this would not have been my first teacher choice. The PLUS side is that her friends are in different classes – and it will be cool to see her branch out and make more friends.

4. But I really hope that none of her classmates are sons or daughters of any of my former high school boyfriends. It’s possible, and I dread that.

5. I’ve been a slacker on the music downloading front this week – I’ve got nothing new. (Recommendations, please?)

6. Last week, someone was telling me about the country group Sugarland. I rarely listen to country but when I checked them out on iTunes, I saw that they did a cover of Matt Nathanson’s “Come On Get Higher”. I prefer Matt’s version, but there’s is still good.

7. Project Runway last night… Glad to see Daniel go – but peeved Jerrell is still in. Once I saw the final two though, I chilled because I figured no matter how it went, it would be alright with me. On a fun note, I loved the Drag Queen challenge.

8. Starbucks cup wisdom: “The most important thing in life is to stop saying ‘I wish’ and start saying ‘I will’. Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities.” – David Copperfield

9. Since last night’s dinner sucked (according to the peanut gallery), tonight I am making honey chicken which is one of the girls’ favorites. You mix 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and about 1/3 cup of honey. Dunk boneless chicken breasts in it and then cover lightly with breadcrumbs. Bake until the salmonella is gone. I serve it with couscous and a vegetable – the couscous is the part the kids like best, but I refuse to just serve a plate of carbs.

10. The next few weeks are going to be interesting ones for me – lots of fun stuff on my plate, which is awesome. Supposed to go skating on Sunday (Hi M!), plans with another girlfriend on Wednesday, Counting Crows next Friday, and a trip to Ikea that Sunday – and then (it’s about freakin’ time) school starts on September 2. Whoooooo.