Thursday Ten: Art and Music and Onion Rings, Oh My! Edition

1.  Last week, I posted a review of Maroon 5’s new album, “Hands All Over”. This week, I’m letting you know that A&M is letting me giveaway an autographed copy of this album. You want it? Leave a comment for me telling me so. I’ll randomly pick a winner next week Thursday.

2. I’ve been still hooked on visiting ArtPrize. I had a two day span where I didn’t go see art, and I was starting to get a little bit TWITCHY. It’s one of the coolest things Grand Rapids has to offer, and I look forward to them announcing the Top Ten pieces later today. The public votes on the winner.

One of the pieces I love is made entirely out of wine corks. Wonder if the artist drank all the wine himself?

3. During ArtPrize, I’ve been loading all my pictures into a Flickr – it’s been fun to see other people’s shots of ArtPrize and to share my own. The downside? Even though I do not have my photos labeled with a Creative Commons license, I’ve noticed that a few of my pictures have been used on other blogs. And it’s a weird feeling – I want to be flattered that someone liked it enough to use it but… That’s Stealing. Odds are, if someone had asked, I’d have said okay. Please pay attention when you’re taking images from Flickr to see if the owner of that picture has authorized its use. If he/she hasn’t, try asking them if you can use it. (Okay, off my soapbox)

4. As I type this, the dog is at the vet getting neutered. Poor little dude – not. Meanwhile, while he’s not underfoot, I have vacuumed and scrubbed my floors. Having the dog not in the house is not unlike when your toddler takes a nap at the crucial point where you need to get a lot of stuff done. Yes, I’m saying dogs and toddlers are similar… except I’ve never REALLY been allergic to a toddler.

5. Music of the week — My friend Lotus clued me in to the free single on iTunes this week, Cory Morrow’s “Second Chance”. Loter’s hubby plays guitar for Cory, and though country music is not usually my thing, the song is pretty good and hey, it’s Lotus-by-proxy. And that’s a good thing. Other recent downloads include (blush) a few of the Glee renditions of Britney songs.

6. Let’s talk about Glee for a second, why don’t we? I like the show – a lot. But I’m beginning to hate these themed episodes. It feels like all the dialogue in between is just filler to get to the next themed song. And while Britney’s music doesn’t annoy me, this episode kind of did and not just because of that BIG EFFING SNAKE. Of all the Britney things to copy, they had to copy the snake? Why didn’t they copy the ratty jean shorts with the gas station bathroom key in one hand and a bag of Cheetos in the other? MUCH less freak-outty than the snake.

7. I saw this clip posted of Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake and The Roots with the History of Rap. Starting and ending with Sugarhill Gang, this is a pretty awesome clip. (If the embedding doesn’t work, it’s worth the click through)

8. After three days of craving onion rings and a failed attempt making healthy oven baked onion rings at home, I caved and ordered them in a restaurant last night. They were SO GOOD, as I knew they would be. They also made my stomach hurty later. Me and fried foods? Not friends.

9. Tomorrow is the FIRST DAY OF OCTOBER. And you know what that means? My birthday month. Yes, month. Eventually, I will get to hate my birthday and won’t celebrate it (no, I won’t) and won’t require a whole month of celebration, but for now? OCTOBER’S (almost) IN THE HOUSE!

10. And since October is traditional Breast Cancer Awareness month, I want to remind you to not limit your awareness of this disease to a mere 31 days a year. So many amazing groups doing great things. My friend Rachel and her friend Tricia are working on a Saving 2nd Base project – also, if at any time you feel like donating to support me in my 2011 Avon Walk, my donation link can be found HERE.

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.

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.