#14. John Mayer- Room for Squares (2001): As I write this, I can already hear the boos coming from every musician, hippie, audiophile, hipster, or music snob (you know who you are, er Hoyer) that reads this. I get it. John Mayer as a musician, songwriter, or person is just plain irritating on multiple levels. If it isn’t the quasi-orgasmic faces he makes when he plays, its the wanna-be ironic, self-effacing persona he puts on that everyone knows is fake. For some, its his modern day take on Yacht Rock that just seems too catchy to be credible. Still, that does not alter my view that he is one of the best pure songwriters of our time, and Room for Squares was his coming out party. Like Dave Matthews (not coincidentally producer John Alagia has also worked with Matthews) from a few years before, Mayer is on one hand a unique and skilled musician, and on the other an excellent craftsmen of song. Although the lyrics are too cute by a half, the song composition shows maturity and diversity. From the outset, with “No Such Thing” Mayer mixes a catchy melody with jazz influenced pop structure. The schlock comes out with the chorus that’s undeniably catchy. The rest of the album proceeds along a similar course. As a musician, I simply have to give him his due. Although the music here is catchy, none of its easy or predictable. The album ends like it begins. A catchy melody accompanied by some of the most challenging chord structures I’ve heard in popular music. In the end, there are just too many good songs on this album to ignore. Sure, every time I hear “Your Body is a Wonderland” I want to vomit. Yet I cant deny his guitar solo on “City Love,” which is just too deft for me to ignore.
Faves: No Such Thing, City Love, 3×5, Great Indoors, St. Patrick’s Day