There are two pieces of music news that have dominated my life for the past week:
Jack Johnson put out his newest studio effort--"Sleep Through The Static"--to some mixed reviews. On one hand, favorable reviews mainly talk about his use of electric guitar, and how his songwriting has taken a step forward into a realm somewhere between Paul Simon and Cat Stevens. On the other hand, the negative reviews are saying what they've been saying about Jack for years--all his songs sound the same, and he's not going to win any new fans without changing. People Magazine summed up their feelings about the album saying "Johnson is singing like he lost his surfboard."
As a fan of Jack's, I have issues with both sides of this spectrum. First, Johnson has used electric guitar on all of his albums since Brushfire Fairytales in 2000. A more accurate statement would refer to his use of overdrive and echo, and keyboardist Zach Gill breaking out the synth on a few songs. As a response to the negative reviews, they're mostly right, but they don't go deep enough to explain the real successes and shortcomings of this album.
I like this album because I like Jack's voice and I appreciate that he's expanded on themes that have surfaced in each of his albums up until now. The band is pushing heavier reggae and dub sounds, and Jack gets to wank out a little more on guitar, which is a good thing. That said, this album drags in spots--in the past, Jack Johnson albums have had an even mix of upbeat songs and ballads--STTS devotes a lot of time to ballads, and the upbeat songs aren't all that upbeat. Combine that with a fact that most of the songs lack a strong hook and it took me ten listens before I really developed an attachment to this CD. Most lukewarm fans won't give STTS that many listens before they shelve it and go listen to Rhianna.
The Format announced their breakup. I was crushed. Pour one out for the boys from AZ and give their swan song Dog Problems a good listen if you haven't before.