This year’s Made in America festival kicked off yesterday with an exhilarating lineup of performers along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The day spanned 11 hours and a spectrum of genres, from the discofied openers in Cherub to the hardcore punk / metal of Glassjaw; EDM hitmaker Baauer to funky fresh hiphop vet Big Daddy Kane; sweet soul grooves from Mayer Hawthorne to an explosive set from The National. And of course, the man of the hour was Kanye West, whose closing 90-minute performance was at peak energy throughout. Continue reading →
Mayer Hawthorne brought his contemporary soul sound to Philadelphia’s Union Transfer Tuesday night in support of his latest record, Where Does This Door Go. Hawthorne’s killer songwriting and ultra-tight band yielded an audience that was surprisingly considerable and not as surprisingly diverse for a weeknight. His ability to construct one song after another that I fail to get out of my head for days on end made the trip completely worth it to me, and numerous other music fans alike. The versatility of his compositional talent, his voice and his band make his concert an impressively complete experience.
I suppose it should not have come as a surprise that Mayer Hawthorne and his band, The County, are true showmen, though I can’t quite say that the spectacle aspect added tremendously to my experience (nor did it subtract from it, I should add). Not only did he and his band line-dance in unison when opening the set with “Physicality” (a song found only as a bonus track on the 12″ Vinyl LP of Where Does This Door Go), but Hawthorne himself poured a few drinks for a few fans at the beginning of “Henny & Gingerale” (I think it goes without saying what kind of drinks he poured). If you take a look at the setlist, you’ll notice he played a lot of music, a solid proportion of which came off the most recent album (which, alone, has a lot of music on it). I thought the song selection was good, but I have more of a soft spot for Hawthorne’s falsetto on tracks like “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” and during the chorus of “All Better”; his voice seems to me better suited to his more soulful work and that showed live.
Of the songs he did play, however, I found “Back Seat Lover” and “The Stars are Ours”, two songs that channel the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire and Steely Dan respectively, to click the most successfully. If I had any complaints, it would be that I had a good bit of trouble hearing Hawthorne’s voice, though I was behind the front-of-house speakers (facing the audience). What I couldn’t hear, however, was made up for by the sheer pleasure emanating from Mayer Hawthorne’s face and body.
Joining Mayer Hawthorne was Superhumanoids, whose quirky charm and electronic sound seemed to hit the right notes amongst crowd members. While I’d call them more prog than soul, I could still appreciate the driving rhythms and all but overly complicated use of guitar pedals as an hors d’oeuvre to Hawthorne and his band.
XPN welcomes Mayer Hawthorne to Union Transfer tonight with Superhumanoids. The neo-soul / R&B singer released Where Does This Door Go earlier this year, showing an ability to put on a more pop-angled hat while still maintaining the retro flair that won over early fans. Tickets and information for the show can be found here; watch Hawthorne’s video for “Her Favorite Song” below.
The Rosebuds will make a special appearance at Johnny Brenda’s, performing Sade’s Love Deluxe in its entirety. After the marital split of band members Kelly Crisp and Ivan Howard during the release of 2008′s Life Like, Howard retreated to coastal North Carolina where he recorded the entire 1992 album that had meant so much to him throughout his life. The pair have managed to redefine their relationship as friends in recent years and bring their intimate tour to Philly tonight with Dark Rooms. Tickets and information can be found here. Stream “No Ordinary Love” below and download the full tribute album for free here.
Majical Cloudz performs at Kung Fu Necktie tonight with Moon King. The simultaneously lush and sparse project belongs to Devon Welsh, a Canadian musician / producer who writes emotionally heavy electronic music. Impersonator, Welsh’s first LP under the moniker, was released in May and instantly perked up ears with its piano / synth base and downtempo vocals that aim for your core. Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show can be found here. Watch Welsh perform “Bugs Don’t Buzz” for La Blogotheque below.
Joey Sweeney and his Long Hair Arkestra present their second of four residency nights at the Khyber Pass Pub tonight. This week will feature performances by The Lift Up and Heyward Howkins in addition to Sweeney’s latest rock project. The Long Hair Arkestra will release its debut record this fall on La Société Expéditionnaire / BITBY. Listen to “Kate Moss Hologram” from the band below, followed by an iPhone demo of “Our Brothers” from Heyward Howkins. More information can be found here.
Mayer Hawthorne and King Britt are doing DJ sets at the Hard Rock Cafe this Saturday night, August 3rd. Hawthorne plays at Musikfest this Saturday and will headline Union Transfer on September 10. This Friday night, August 2nd, King Britt will be “re-contextualizing” the classic film, The Brother From Another Planet, in collaboration with the Blackstar Film Festival. Go here for more information about the event at Johnny Brenda’s.
Go here for tickets to dance the night away with King Britt and Mayer Hawthorne.
Below, listen to and download Hawthorne’s classic soul mix.
Mayer Hawthorne returns to Philly on Tuesday, September 10 to Union Transfer in support of his excellent new album, Where Does This Door Go. Tickets to the show go on sale Friday, July 26 at Noon. A recent ‘XPN Featured Album, Where Does This Door Go furthers Hawthorne’s growth as an artist and with an eye towards the pop mainstream may be the album that helps him establish a larger following. The album is a polished and accomplished collection of retro-soul and R&B influenced pop music with terrific contributions to the album from Kendrick Lamar and Pharrel Williams. Below, listen to a couple songs from the record.
If you’re a fan of classic soul, here’s a mixtape you have to download. Mayer Hawthorne has put together 24 soul music jams called Soul With A Hole, Volume 1 with gems from Billy Harner (“The Human Perkolator”), The Marvelettes, Deon Jackson, The Toys and others. Download it below. Hawthorne releases his new album, Where Does This Door Go, on July 16th and is playing Musikfest on Saturday, August 3.
1. Donald Jenkins And The Delighters “Music Revolution”
2. Otis Leavill “I Need You”
3. Erroll Gaye And The Imaginations “You Dont Want My Love”
4. Billy Harner “Fool Me”
5. Continental Four “How Can I Pretend”
6. The Tenth Dymentions “My Love For You Is Growing Wild”
7. JJ And G “Thats What I Get (For Loving You)”
8. Brothers Of Soul “A Lifetime”
9. Wes Wells And The Steelers “It Must Be Love”
10. Frankie Karl And The Dreams “Dont Be Afraid (Do As I Say)”
11. Four Mints “Row-Row-Row My Boat”
12. The Dynamic Tints “Be My Lady”
13. Final Decisions “Keep On Walking”
14. Dee Dee Warwick “Its Not Fair”
15. Carl Carlton “Dont Walk Away”
16. Sly, Slick And Wicked “Sho Nuff”
17. Jimmy (Soul) Clark “If I Only Knew Then (What I Know Now)”
18. The Original Breed “The Prophet”
19. The Prime Ministers “I Dont Know No More”
20. Deon Jackson “All On A Sunny Day”
21. The Marvelettes “As Long As I Know Hes Mine”
22. The Admirations “Don’t Leave Me”
23. The Toys “Whats Wrong With Me Baby”
24. The Ordells “Sippin A Cup Of Coffee”
Below, listen to the first official single, “Her Favorite Song,” from Mayer Hawthorne’s forthcoming album, Where Does This Door Go, out July 16. He’s playing Musikfest on Saturday, August 3rd. Go here for the complete lineup to Musikfest and to purchase tickets.
Retro pop / soul artist Mayer Hawthorne will take his music in a new direction on Where Does the Door Go, claiming “I decided that I would want to make an entire album of songs that I would play on my yacht, when I was cruising on the yacht on the water.” The new album follows up 2011′s How Do You Do and the yacht-rock sensibilities were clear on the smoothly operated first taste of the album “Designer Drug,” a free download that the Michigan native released earlier this month. With a record release date set for July 16th Hawthorne will set out on tour with One Republic this summer, stopping at Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA on June 3rd. Tickets and information can be found here. Watch a preview for the album below featuring a series of cinematic door-opening scenes.
Mayer Hawthorne has returned with a new song, “Designer Drug” that you can download below for free. It’s a song that may very well be on his next new album, out this coming summer. Hawthorne (pictured above at this year’s SXSW with a beard and a hot red sport jacket) recently told Gary Graff of Billboard.com this his new album is “definitely different, way different from its two predecessors.” If this song is an indication of a the kind of difference Hawthorne’s talking about, then we’re looking forward to hearing even more.