Tuesday, September 26, 2006 - The Michigan Daily - 9
Mayer revamped: New bluesy sound
Quite a nutshell, no?
Continued from page 5
It just doesn't hit harder than
this. Banksy's art could not be
more relevant, more important.
Marcel Duchamp had his urinal,
Warhol his soup cans, but Banksy
has the whole world. He deftly
exploits the double-edge of our
Information Age: The more infor-
mation we have, the more it can
be manipulated and the more it
can just be ignored. His pieces
on the barrier between Israel and
its occupied territories will floor
you. Whether it's children paint-
ing picturesque scenes or a giant
dotted line with a scissors imply-
ing "start cutting here," the fact
remains that we're looking at a
wall representing the worst con-
flict of our time, and only Banksy
seems to have the ability to make
art on it.
And it continues.
Here's a guy who has walked
into the Natural History Museum
of London as well as the Louvre
and put up pieces of his art, cir-
cumventing the entire process
of selection. He doctored Paris
Hilton's album with nude photos.
And that's just the tip of the ice-
berg when it comes to his instal-
lations. At Australia's Melbourne
Zoo, Banksy dropped several
cardboard signs into the Chim-
panzee enclosure that read: "I'm
a celebrity get me out of here"
and "Help me no one will let me
home." A biohazard sign warn-
ing of radioactivity stood in the
middle of the pond in St. James's
Park, with Buckingham Palace in
( By Caitlin Cowan
Daily Arts Editor
Fans that purchase concert tickets are often
introduced to many new aspects of their
favorite musicians and bands. Teenage fans
of The Vines may have
been intrigued to learn that
lead singer Craig Nicholls
plays almost every show
piss-drunk and half-naked;
Maroon 5 aficionados (if
such creatures still exist) ****
may have been taken aback
when they discovered that, John
CortesyofBanksywell, Maroon 5 is appalling Mayer
in live shows. Continuum
the background, for 22 hours. John Mayer's fans often
The act of writing a fine arts witnessed a look of absolute Aware
column about Banksy is ironic. rapture across the singer's
Bansky's effortlessly profound face at almost every live
statements succeed on two levels: show he ever played. Fans who attended mul-
for popular culture and for the tiple shows throughout his career knew when
elite. With the elite, it's insidious it was going to happen, and those with enough
how he exploits art history. "The sense to put the pieces together also knew why
key to making great art is all in it happened.
the composition" is a simple sten- It was when Mayer ripped into a 12-minute,
cil, but the end of "composition" is bluesy guitar solo that he looked most at ease.
cute off by a door. "Britain's Lon- While his 14-year-old female fans most
gest Painting (Allegedly)" starts likely used these moments of inspired impro-
with a stencil of an alarmed kitten visation to call their parents and ask to be
wrapped up in a ball of bright picked up from the concert, Mayer's older and
orange yarn. The yarn follows a more musically inclined fans simply stood and
trail through many city blocks, basked in the technically proficient soloing the
ending with an appropriately, talented young musician unleashed in torrents
tongue-in-cheek stencil of a girl at the end of the night.
about to plug the yarn, now a plug, It seems that Mayer has been waiting for
into an outlet. His pared-down some time to commit himself entirely to the
approach makes all the right asso- mournful and expressive intricacies of blues.
ciations, from the Fluxus move- Some critics have quietly discussed his instru-
ment of the '60s and '70s to The mental proficiency while the mainstream
Diggers of Haight-Ashbury. loudly dismissed him as a crooner for tasteless
No one is making art at this yuppies and pubescent girls.
level. No one is engaging the pub- Yet on his latest, Mayer has finally
lic in such an overt, self-assured crossed over into a new universe of wine
way. Banksy is single-handedly and cheese parties, rather than pillow fights
undermining the institution of fine and sleepovers. Even if it seems contrived
arts as we know it, burning down or corny, from the first second the last, a sin-
our notions of expression and the gular impression wells up from his smooth
relevance of public art. Is one man guitar and velvety voice: This is the sound of
capable of balancing the scales John Mayer's testicles descending.
of information? That might be The singer/songwriter's previous discog-
an unfair position. But Banksy is raphy can most aptly be described as mim-
showing no signs of slowing down icking the feeling of different times of day:
(he was recently exhibited in LA), Room for Squares was the sunny morning
and his prolific rat stencils will and afternoon album, and Heavier Things
continue to play their fiddles while was the sunset and early-evening album. In
the rest of the world struggles to this analogy, Continuum is most certainly a
catch up. midnight kind of album.
Slow, sexy grooves make songs like "I
- Klein can only hope to stencil Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)" and
half of what Banksy thinks. E-mail "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" so satisfy-
him at firstname.lastname@example.org. ing from Mayer. His husky voice crawls over
"Don't you think this long hair makes me look more soulful?"
somber confessions and surges over hopeful
anticipation. High-pitched guitar trills flicker
and gleam in the cracks and around the edges
of classic, melancholy songs like "I'm Gonna
Find Another You" and "In Repair." On "Grav-
ity," a kind of lullaby, Mayer lets loose whorls
of inspired guitar licks into the stylish haze of
slow, brushed drum beats. "Gravity is work-
ing against me / And gravity wants to bring me
down," Mayer laments. "Just keep me where
the light is," he begs.
While a smoky, blues texture dominates
the album, Mayer still knows how to craft
acoustic pop songs that are reminiscent of
the sweet, earnest sound which was prevalent
on Room for Squares and, to a lesser extent,
One instance of this pop charm comes mid-
way through the album. The sparkling acoustic
guitar on "Stop This Train" underscores one of
the most piercing sentiments Mayer has ever
put into words. "So scared of gettin' older,"
he sings, "I'm only good at being young." He
articulates a terrifying, mature feeling with as
much sincerity as a singer twice his age. "So I
play the numbers game to find a way to say that
life has just begun / Don't miss a thing till you
cry when you're driving away in the dark / Just
singing," he croons despondently.
But for all of its newfound maturity, Con-
tinuum is still an album for the mainstream.
All the songs hover around the four-minute
mark, with only one track careening on into
six minutes. There are no 15-minute guitar-
sex sessions. What keeps Continuum from
reaching its maximum potential is the dirt,
gravel and grime that often tinges the songs
of the authentic blues giants. One of those
legends, Ma Rainey, said "white folks hear
the blues come out, but they don't know how
it got there." Jimi Hendrix said "Blues is easy
to play, hard to feel." So is it fair to criticize
Mayer for who he is and how real his take on
the blues may be?
While Continuum makes the case for Mayer
as a serious performer, that question of authen-
ticity lingers. While his detractors might not
ever be able to accept his stylings as soulful
or bluesy, the people who can look past that
will find that this is a sophisticated stepping
stone from a young man who knows exactly
what he's doing.
WHEN YOU EMERGE FROM THE TEACH FOR AMERICA EXPERIENCE YOU WILL HAVE DEVELOPED SKILLS IN LEADERSHIP, COACHING
AND COMMUNICA1]ON;YoU WILL BE PERSISTENT IN THE PURSUIT OF COMPLEX OBJECTIVES; YOU WILL BE ABLE TO UNLOCK THE POTENTIAL IN PO
PLE AROUND YOU; AND PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, YOU WILL BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR ABILITYTO MAKEA DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.
IT'S NO WONDER THAT WE WANT TO HIRE YOU.
IF YOU CAN ENSURE THAT STUDENTS SUCCEED IN THE FACE OF HUGE CHALLENGES, INVESTING THEM IN THEIR OWN EDUCATION AND MOTIVATING THEM TO FULFILL
THEIR POTENTIALYOU HAVE MOST OF WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A GREAT INVESTMENT BANKER ATJPMORGAN. AND NOW YOU CAN DO BOTH.TO
GAIN A PLACE IN THE TEACH FOR AMERICA CORPS AND A START DATE DEFERRAL FROM J PMORGAN, YOU'LL HAVE TO IMPRESS BOTH ORGANIZATIONS. THE
FIRST STEP IS TO SUBMIT YOUR J PMORGAN APPLICATION THROUGH YOUR CAMPUS CAREER CENTER. YOU'LL ALSO NEED TO SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION TO TEACH FOR AMERICA
BY SEPTEMBER 30, 2006. FIND OUT MORE BY VISITING OUR WEBSITES.