Music Reviews: John Mayer Trio, Benjy Davis Project, Valencia

Every month(ish), we recommend the most seriously awesome albums and tracks we had on repeat.

John Mayer Trio


Music: There was a time—mostly during the dark days of 2002—when it was fashionably hip to not dig John Mayer. His big-label debut, Room for Squares, had appeared the year before and soon dominated airwaves with a handful of finely crafted pop tunes. Teen girls swooned, but critics scoffed, very few sensing the substance behind the hype. Now backed by heavyweight-drummer Steve Jordan and legendary-bassist Pino Palladino, Mayer delivers an impressive live disc that leaves no room for doubt: the guy can really play. Like really, really, really play. The trio gets down and bluesy on “Out of My Mind,” rocks out on the live-staple “Something’s Missing,” and effortlessly shifts into a lovely, scaled-down version of the Grammy-favorite “Daughters.” 

Drumming: Quickly grabbing the groove and never letting go, Jordan is bass-drum-smackin’, snare-crackin’ good. As usual. 

The Straight Poop: Mayer and company offer up a musically mature album that still makes your inner teenybopper squeal.

Benjy Davis Project

The Angie House

Music: A youthful, eager band from Baton Rouge, the Benjy Davis Project serves up tasty tunes with a sprinkling of what is really good about southern-spiced rock—major chords, sing-along choruses, layered harmonies, and big, bold piano parts. Crank up “She Ain’t Got Love” at BBQ parties; mellow out alone with the string-backed “Blame It on the Devil.” And when you wonder what she’s really thinking, slip in “Do It With the Lights On” and cross your fingers.

Drumming: Mic Capdevielle currently holds down the Davis drum throne, and if his excellent playing on this album is indication enough, he won’t be departing. Check out the authoritative snare intro on “Wait” and the cool opening groove from “Soul on Fire.” Practice along with “Purgatoria” for some tom and bass drum pounding. 

The Straight Poop: Just like a great pair of jeans, this disc fits in anywhere—from New York rock clubs to hicktown hoedowns. 


This Could Be a Possibility

Music: If high-octane pop punk is your thing (and if it isn’t…what’s wrong with you?), then Valencia needs regular rotation on your playlist. The Philadelphia-based quintet combines catchy, head-flailing melodies with richly textured, ridiculously infectious arrangements. After a measure or two, you’ll be begging to bite down on the hard hooks of songs like “Will We Ever Know How?” and “Eagle Mount Drive.” 

Drumming: Though he’s not afraid of a backbeat, skinsman Max Soria definitely works up a sweat with energetic fills and quick rhythm changes. Frankly, every tune has at least one standout drum moment, but listen first to the slamming “Que Sera Sera,” which opens with a drum lick and later features an off-beat ride pattern shortly after the two-minute mark. Cool down with the clever tom-based groove that launches “Tenth Street.” 

The Straight Poop: Valencia’s debut will be some of the best 32.6 minutes on your iPod. [Update 2022: holy shit, what happened to all of our old iPods? Can we sell those as vintage, retro-tech now for mucho ducats?]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *