Sasquatch 2010 Preview
Monday, May 31 @ 12:55 p.m.
Mayer Hawthorne is living the dream. In a year’s time, this L.A. transplant (via Detroit) has gone from spinning records at parties, to traveling Europe singing the purest soul sounds this side of Motown. Most folks are surprised when they find out Hawthorne is a nerdy white dude, and they’re equally surprised that his songs were recorded in 2009, not 1966.
Yes, Hawthorne is a gifted mimic, but don’t be turned off by the fact that he’s blatantly ripping off the style of our soul forefathers. The guy is simply making the very music he fills his record crates with, and he’s ridiculously good at it.
He’s also very honest about what he’s doing. Mayer Hawthorne is having fun with this. He’s admitted many times in interviews that the first two soul songs he made – the incredible “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” and the equally outstanding “Maybe So, Maybe No” – were recorded just for kicks, something to pass on to family and friends. It wasn’t until the songs found their way into the hands of Peanut Butter Wolf at Stones Throw Records that Mayer Hawthorne became a serious project.
Wolf’s initial reaction to Hawthorne’s music is pretty much what you can expect from most first-time listeners. First, a wide smile forms on your face. Then you try to guess what 60’s soul group is responsible for the tune. This is followed by a “jigga waaaa?” when you discover you’re actually hearing a new song by some guy with thick-framed glasses and neatly parted hair. Lastly, you offer him a record deal and release his first single on a red slab of heart-shaped vinyl, if you’re Peanut Butter Wolf, that is.
In person, Mayer Hawthorne and his sweater-clad backing band The County are true entertainers. They sport matching outfits jacked straight from Hill Valley High’s Enchantment Under The Sea Dance. They sing playful four-part harmonies usually reserved for barbershops. They’re not afraid to bust into choreographed dance. And of course, there’s that joyous throwback sound, the sound of a vinyl junkie putting a new spin on the songs he grew up listening to.