When Peanut Butter Wolf started Stones Throw Records in 1996, his friend and rap partner Charizma had just been killed. What started as a cathartic way to release the music they recorded together soon grew into something much larger, a record label releasing an eclectic range of music, with artists as diverse as Madlib, Mayer Hawthorne, and Omar Rodriguez Lopez on their rolls.
Now on its 45th go-round, Milwaukee’s massive Summerfest returns from June 27 to July 8, offering 11 days of high-profile and independent musicians performing around the 75-acre Henry Maier Festival Park along Lake Michigan. This year, our favorite performers include The Hives, Foo Fighters, Ben Folds Five, Devotchka, The Promise Ring, Galactic, Collections of Colonies of Bees, Atmosphere, The Roots, Common, Thievery Corporation, Mayer Hawthorne, and Lupe Fiasco.
Are you in Chicago this Thursday, May 17, and want to get down and/or funky? ALARM is giving away a special package for soul crooner Mayer Hawthorne’s DJ set at Beauty Bar, following his regular performance at Park West.
Local DJs Major Taylor and DJ Castle join Hawthorne for the official after-party, and one lucky winner gets a table, four guest spots, and a bubbly bottle of champagne to enjoy the good times, all courtesy of ALARM Press.
“Some Place”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Nick-Waterhouse-Some-Place.mp3|titles=Nick Waterhouse: “Some Place”]
The phenomena of the digger-turned-frontman is nothing new — often the youth of a record fiend leads to a life on stage. It’s just that, well, these days, the digging is deeper and the diggers are a bit more passionate about sounding just like their heroes. The wonder is that sometimes they do just that.
Don’t let the Buddy Holly spectacles put you off San Francisco’s 25-year-old Nick Waterhouse — whom we correctly guessed was a record-digging DJ even before reading up on him, just like, ahem, soul revivalist Mayer Hawthorne. This young guy loves the sound of records as much as the music on them — and what he lacks in originality he makes up for in fervent, giddy exploration of sounds and styles nearly half a century old.
On a biweekly basis, The Groove Seeker goes in search of killer grooves across rock, funk, hip hop, soul, electronic music, jazz, fusion, and more.
Mayer Hawthorne: “A Long Time”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/02-A-Long-Time-mastered.mp3|titles=Mayer Hawthorne: “A Long Time”]
As the soul revival sound goes, Mayer Hawthorne is in a league of singers who strike the proper balance between old school and new school. Yes, the singer’s act takes greatest influence from the early Northern soul era, but there’s more to Hawthorne’s music than a game of name-that-classic-45.
In exception to the Impressions EP and the New Holidays cover on his 2009 debut, A Strange Arrangement, Hawthorne’s music is wholly original. He shows his appreciation for the throwback song-craft by mirroring its fundamentals: carefully placed horn sections, sweet harmonies, tight group-vocal backing melodies, and exceptionally smooth and polished arrangements.
For his sophomore effort, Hawthorne reaches deeper into the late-’60s, early-’70s reference bag to make a no-frills record packed with tolerantly addictive soul hooks. How Do You Do? covers a lot of ground and shows some new sides to Hawthorne’s musical palette with cleaner and more robust production and instrument arrangements. Whether or not his jump to Universal Republic from Stones Throw has anything to do with it is arguable, but Hawthorne finds a way to use time-honored soul maxims to forge an individual sound.
It’s a great few days for metal in Chicago as Mastodon, Converge, Kylesa, and Russian Circles each performs new material.
Fans of softer fare have great options as well as hip-hop producer Peanut Butter Wolf, chicha enthusiasts Chicha Libre, and post-jazz/jam guitarist Charlie Hunter hit town.