Archive for May, 2012

Mayer Hawthorne at Corona Theatre

May 27, 2012

26 May 2012

Mayer Hawthorne and The County played to a full house at The Corona Theatre in Montreal last night and did not disappoint, bringing their Motown swagger and good times great oldies vibe. Hawthorne was decked out in a red tux (in solidarity with la CLASSE?) and Air Jordans and showcased songs from his latest album How Do You Do? and his breakout record A Strange Arrangement.

The Hawth does such an amazing job of getting the crowd involved with singalongs, call-and-response exchanges, and choreographed hand motions, that it’s impossible not to get caught up in the music. Critics call him a “throwback” artist, which some say is a schtick or comes off as phony, but I find it genuine and authentic – rather than simply copying singers of old, Hawthorne’s music can be seen as an homage, using Motown and soul as inspiration for reviving the craft of live performance. Perhaps the fact that he grew up in the Detroit area adds credence to his music, but the bottom line is that Hawthorne wants to put on a “show” and truly entertain, and entertain us he did. He had a J-Dilla interlude and a Hall & Oates breakdown for Christ’s sake! He let us take photos of him holding a bouquet of flowers and took a picture of us for his Twitter account, and then politely asked everyone to put our cameras away and “pretend” we were at a show enjoying it in “real time”. We danced non stop, I spilt beer on some girl and her chum wanted to beat me up for a split second before remembering he was in a happy place. The vibes were too good for anyone to stay mad for long.

Mayer Hawthorne is a gentleman and the ladies clearly love him. His set was tight, he hit all of his notes with ease and his backing band was perfect. My only critique is the same one I made when I first saw him in Toronto in 2009 – he needs horns and two large black ladies doing back up vocals! Other than that, a helluva live show and a great weekend. Peace.

*photo by Jacquelyn Taylor*

CFCF – Exercises

May 27, 2012

Montreal producer Michael Silver aka CFCF returns with the stunning Exercises EP on Paper Bag Records. Silver has been on a bit of a run lately dropping the fantastic Night Bus mixes in 2011, in which he reinterpreted Aaliyah, Biggie, Fever Ray, Autechre and more for the wee hours of the night. But with Exercises, we see the steady maturation of Silver’s talent as a producer. The album is made up of eight keyboard based tracks that are subtle and subdued, working on loops and licks of sound that consistently surprise. Silver is able to eke out emotion, knowing that he only has to hit the right note once in a song to make his listeners feel the meditative vibe.

Silver has an ear for simple melody, letting tones and swirls of synth gently build on top of each other, and this is one reason why this album is so successful. The other is its shining star, the amazing middle point track “September”. It’s a cover of the David Sylvian track of the same name and the only song with vocals on the album. Silver’s voice sounds strong and assured, the synths mesh together perfectly, and the song packs quite an emotional punch. The first time I heard it I was on the bus in the morning and it was chilly but the sun was shining and Silver’s voice surprised me at first, reminding me a bit of Arthur Russell, and the subtle build of the production was just perfect with the hand clap beats, farting bass line, and synth stabs sounding so nice…that you can guess what happened: I got that pang, my eyes went a little watery, I had to turn my face to the window for a moment and take a breath. I had to let that tingly feeling wash over me, let it quietly remind me of all that’s good and true and possible in my life. C’est la définition of good music, my friends. I’ve since listened to it many times and can say it’s one of my favourite songs of the year, and being followed by the equally gorgeous piano based song “December” doesn’t hurt either. Every track is a winner.

Exercises is CFCF’s finest work to date and shows he is definitely an artist worth getting excited about. Check it.