Posts Tagged ‘soul’

Mayer Hawthorne – A Long Time

September 4, 2011

I’ve been absolutely loving this new track from Mayer Hawthorne for a while now, and the recently released video is just brilliant. I was raised on Detroit TV, so this video immediately found a special place in my heart. Amazing nostalgia courtesy of The New Dance Show, and quite possibly Mayer’s strongest track yet. It’s a song with a vital message about Detroit’s past and future and respect to Mayer for his continual rep of the D.

I cannot wait for his sophomore album, “How Do You Do?” dropping on October 11. Check it!

James Blake – James Blake

February 9, 2011

After a trio of rich and varied EP’s in 2010, which were all lumped under the banner of dubstep, the young and talented James Blake has released his debut full-length on a big major label. For those who had their hopes pinned on Blake producing the definitive instrumental dubstep masterpiece of the year, you may want to stop reading this right now, because what Blake has created instead is a soulful and strange collection of emotional almost-pop songs. Hints at dubstep and techno and darkness swirl along the edges of this album, but at its heart Blake’s debut attempts to go much further than just making you want to shake your booty in a dark club, it attempts to tap into your own emotions and make you reflect.

Simply put the album is an exercise in restraint, and a new avenue for Blake to explore emotions not just through rhythm but also through his own voice. We were given a taste of this late last fall as Blake’s cover of “Limit to your Love” began to pop up on blogs and music sites, and damn the kid could sing! And what sparse piano! And wow that bass wobble! Blake has truly reworked the song in his own style, while still sticking very close to Feist’s original, and the result is beautiful.

Every track on the album features Blake’s voice in the front of the mix, either clean or digitally enhanced by vocoder. Second track “Wilhelm’s Scream” is the song that will catch the listener first, as Blake uses a minimal beat and synth line to pull you in. He uses the word “falling” over and over in the track, and what’s interesting is the production creates the sensation of falling, as it slowly builds and layers itself into a wall of distortion and sensation. It’s a brilliant song that had me floored upon first listen.

The following tracks “I Never Learnt to Share” and “Lindesfarne I/II” are a bit more of a slow burn, yet once they seep into your consciousness, you’ll be craving the off-time bassline drops in “I Never Learnt to Share” and the guitar/vocal melody of “Lindesfarne II”. The opening section of “Lindesfarne I”, recalls Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” and builds into a gentle folk song. The stripped down piano-based tracks “Give me my Month” and “Why Don’t You Call Me” bring to mind both Coldplay and Bon Iver.

Who woulda thunk that James Blake would be compared to Bon Iver? And yet, overall the album totally works. Penultimate track “I Mind” finds Blake showing up his pals Mount Kimbie at their own game, and making it seem effortless. If there was one thing that was a bit disappointing about Mount Kimbie’s own debut full-length last year, was that it was simply more of the same, and arguably not as exciting as their earlier attempts at post-dubstep grandeur. Yet, one will never be able to say this about Blake who has been evolving and tweaking and growing exponentially with each release. And he’s only 22(!) Expect much more from this young producer, and check out this album, because it’s the year’s most interesting release to date.

Mayer Hawthorne loves up The Drake in Toronto

September 28, 2009

27 September 2009


Mayer Hawthorne & The County brought the love to the Drake Underground on Sunday to a sold out crowd. Opening the set with “Maybe So, Maybe No”, an energetic Hawthorne and his tight band, had the crowd immediately loving it – dancing, singing along, and blowing bubbles. Yes bubbles. They totally added an old-timey feel to his old school sound. I was happy to hear Mayer have his vocal chops live and not just on the album. He seems to enjoy having fun with the crowd, making us move in tight to dance, confiding with us about love, and even stopping in the middle of “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” to ask us if we like heavy metal and country, and then starting the song again with a reggae beat. Fun stuff.

The group played the hits from his just released “A Strange Arrangement” as well as a few covers, including a great extended version of “Love is All Right” from Cliff Nobles and Co, because as Hawthorne kept telling us: it was all about the love. Overall, it was a tight and fun set and there were a lot of pretty girls in the crowd, but unfortunately they only had eyes for the Mayer. The one thing missing from the band was some live horns, but all in due time . . .

Opening DJ mymanhenri is consistently awesome at his craft, always setting the mood with his 92bpm hip-hop vibe. I unfortunately missed BUFF1 throwdown his smooth Ann Arbor hip-hop, but did get to see 14KT‘s set before the headline and BUFF sat up behind the drums during his set and chilled out as 14KT dropped dope beats. Check out their collab track “Real Appeal” on BUFF’s latest album “There’s Only One”, it’s a winner. All in all, it was a great night of Detroit soul and hip-hop with mymanhenri representing for the T.

Keep it coming y’all.

sold out

Mayer Hawthorne – A Strange Arrangement

September 7, 2009


Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Mayer Hawthorne is about to blow up big time. His full-length debut album hits stores on September 8th, 2009, and is an amazingly authentic take on Motown and Detroit soul from the 60’s. This is nu-skoool soul that you could play for your Mom and before you knew it, she’d be up and dancing dirty with your Dad in the living room. Meshing the sounds of Smokey, Marvin, Curtis, and the Temps, Mayer Hawthorne’s album, “A Strange Arrangement” plays like a warped 33 from your parents old LP collection, but also manages to sound like the next shit at the same time.

Growing up on the outskirts of Detroit, Hawthorne listened to the rich musical history of Motown via all the amazing radio stations in the Detroit area (104.3 WOMC!!) and felt connected to the sound and emotion of that era—and now he’s put out one of the smoothest soul albums I’ve heard in years. Some of the tracks sound just a little too close to the artists he’s paying respect to—for example “Your Easy Lovin’ Aint Pleasin” sounds like a sped up “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes, and “The Ills” could be an unreleased Curtis Mayfield track, but cuts like “Shiny and New”, “Maybe So, Maybe No”, and title track “A Strange Arrangement” reveal Hawthorne’s skills at their best. Overall, the album is an absolute burner. Infectious, nostalgic, emotional, smooth, and really really fucking groovy. I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that he’s a pasty white dude, and that not only does he have a fantastic voice, but also plays all the instruments on the album! Wow.

Mayer Hawthorne & The County are making their Toronto debut at The Drake Hotel on Sunday, September 27th. I’ll be there and wearing my heart on my sleeve. Edit: I was there! Check him out immediately! Peace.

mayer hawthorne