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Mayer Hawthorne & The County's Scintillating Soul Sounds

By Michele Lenni in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 26, 2010 7:40PM

Image via Last FM
In the sea of independent music we cover from day-to-day it is very easy to muck through a bunch of promotional materials and get turned off by what seems like an insurmountable wall of same old, same old indie rock. When we got our hands on Mayer Hawthorne's debut seven-inch, Just Ain't Gonna Work Out/When I Said Goodbye, last year it's cartoon-y, heart-shaped, fire-engine-red vinyl was quite literally hard to miss. When we got past our love of the packaging and opened our ears we discovered what we loved even more: Hawthorne's hip-hop-flavored old-school soul sound.

Hawthorne, or Andrew Mayer Cohen to his parents, hails from the streets of Ann Arbor, MI and was inspired by the soulful sounds of Motown very early in his life. In his interview with The Seattle Times he said he was inspired by his father's love of music, continuing "He's a big Motown fan, and he's a musician, and I would ask him millions of questions about every song that came on the radio and I always wanted to learn as much as I could about it." Hawthorne, inspired by his father and artists like Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield and Mike Terry, moved to Los Angeles, CA and used his talents as a singer, producer, songwriter, arranger, audio engineer, DJ, rapper and multi-instrumentalist to produce one of our favorite albums of 2009, A Strange Arrangement.

Now Hawthorne has taken to the road with his group of smooth, soulful players, The County, for a fervent musical experience that is to be seen and heard to be appreciated. Earlier this year we got a chance to see Hawthorne open up for dance-music-nerds Hot Chip and were wowed by his musical prowess and relaxed confidence. We are definitely looking forward to checking out a longer, more developed set in Wicker Park's Sub-T's small, intimate setting tomorrow night.

Mayer Hawthorne & The County performs tomorrow, October 27, at Subterranean, 2011 W North, 7:30 p.m., $17, All Ages