Dear Continuum, I Love You

I remember being at a show in L.A. in 2013 where Flying Lotus was the not-so-secret surprise guest, and the warm-up acts were asking the audience who they thought would be coming out to entertain us. Someone sarcastically said John Mayer, and the crowd laughed and jeered while in my heart I thought it wouldn’t have been such a bad thing had it been John Mayer circa Continuum. It’s still probably not that cool to say that you listened to and loved John Mayer (and also secretly hoped that he could have made a guest appearance that night), but on this, the tenth anniversary of what is unquestionably his best album, I say Fuck That.

Continuum came out on this day in 2006, but I honestly came to make it a part of my life as a 21-year old in 2009. When it came out, it was the soundtrack to my own dread of “Dreaming with a Broken Heart”, and I felt like I could relate hard core to that sad guitar wail of “Slow Dancing in A Burning Room”. I loved that it could take me all the way down to there and still keep me hopeful with songs like “In Repair” and “Waiting on the World to Change”. As a young person in university, I also felt strongly about the message in that song and “Belief”, since I still had that special brand of optimism before you have to start paying *real* bills. A good writer can put into words things you didn’t even know could be expressed until you heard or read them that way, and I’m not ashamed to say I think John Mayer is often that kind of writer. 

Sure, we can’t overlook the fact that he was a joke to people like the crowd in L.A., because after this album, he kind of spiraled into silly tabloid fodder, went down a more country road than the promising cool bluesy direction of Continuum (“I Don’t Trust Myself” is such a cool song), and there was the stupid shit he said about black women. But, not to condone that staggering ignorance at all,one of the truths of fandom is that good musicians aren’t always good people, and art can both illuminate and omit things about a single person (see: a lot of artists). NPR’s All Songs Considered just did a podcast about artists you’ve had to break up with for whatever reason, and I think John Mayer would be mine because of every album after Battle Studies.

Everything else aside, it’s been ten years since this album was born, and seven since I played it to death, and there’s no denying that every song on Continuum still holds up beyond just the meaning it had to me back then. I love that I can re-appreciate all the things that make it Just Great Music now, knowing that heartbreak is not unconquerable and despite some signs to the contrary, the heart of life is indeed good.


Song of the Day: Javelin – Nnormal

Just be prepared because your mind may be blown a little. When the song first comes on (after you get past some eerie beeping) you definitely hear hip-hop and you definitely feel something in your nerves that makes them twitch in a dance-y fashion.  But this song goes just beyond that and takes you into some other type of galaxy , much like Flying Lotus does with completely otherworldy sounds that simultaneously don’t fit but do make sense in this universe. It’s something like future sounds, spacey handclaps and autotune voices that make you see stars and colours. There is a middle section – a bridge if you will – that is an utterly spectacular strip down that leaves you jamming to the sounds of a shaker and a single beat.

Javelin is a set of cousins making DIY electric music with layers of technology and ordinary sounds out of Brooklyn, New York and has been since around 2005. Their entire second album, called Hi Beams, is out on March 5 and available for preview on the Luaka Bop record page, which is a trip of its own with the 90’s neon jukebox flashing colours and, like a Google doodle, there’s stuff you can click on to make music.

But for now here’s “Nnormal” — and seriously, be prepared for four minutes of an ear-shaking ride because this track is anything but.