My recent Sunday Listening posts have been centered on albums, giving you all a good bit to listen to. A little something something that’s nice to have in the background. This week I’m doing things differently.
I’ve curated a soulful collection of tracks, some that will take your ears back decades. Old school organs, hints of jazz and a touch of dub, listen to a handful of songs created by artists from all around the globe.
Right-click and enjoy.
I thought it would be too cliche to post a picture of a heart for Valentine’s Day, so as someone who loves science I decided to post the organ that is truly responsible for love: the brain.
Also, I’m including an older song that I’ve recorded off of a vinyl 45. The warmth of the crackles and pops sounds like love to me. There is a certain passion in Stevie’s voice on the track that evokes a feeling of euphoria in me, and euphoria is a side effect of love.
The lyrics themselves tell the tale of a man who is madly in love and has that common fear that he isn’t good enough for his lover and that she might leave him for someone else. Stevie really conveys those emotions throughout the song and that’s what makes it so wonderful. The song actually makes you feel. Listen to it and fall in love. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Mayer Hawthorne just came out with a new video.
I am a huge Mayer Hawthorne fan.
Well, I’m average-sized, but I enjoy his music a lot. I don’t have any weight concerns or anything. I’m like 9% body fat. Seriously, I maintain a healthy diet and I work out about 5 times a week. I do weights 3 times a week, doing 2 muscle groups and super-setting each lifting day, and I play basketball 2-3 times a week for cardio purposes.
I also tear up dance floors.
Sorry to alarm you with the previous “huge” statement. Here’s the music video:
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Going into Lollapalooza there were certain acts that I considered “must see”. Being a fan of Mayer Hawthorne’s for a couple of years now and never having seen him live, he was pretty much at the top of the list. Part of the appeal of Mr. Hawthorne is his retro sound that channels Motown soul and reminds me of all the music I used to listen to with my parents as a kid. Just as his sound is a refreshing throwback, so is his live performance. The sound was crisp and the set was amazing. Certain songs were altered from their recorded version so as to let the musicians in his band, The County, to have extended solos and show off their chops. “Green Eyed Love” had some sick guitar soloing, “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” had an awesome extended intro, and the keyboardist was able to get funky with LFO manipulations on multiple songs.
Not only was the musicianship excellent, the showmanship was amazing as well. Mayer was able to get the crowd involved and keep them engaged throughout the entire set. One highlight was right after he performed “I Wish that it Would Rain”. During the song he had the crowd do a simple raining motion dance during the hook and right after he was done singing he got everyone to do it one more time as he snapped a picture of it for his Twitter account. He also taught the crowd how to do the Errol Flynn dance, which I will definitely be bringing to Sea Isle City this weekend. It’s a bit like the John Wall, but you can use both hands!!!!
Mayer also did an interesting thing regarding photography. At one point in the show he posed for everyone who had cameras, which was reminiscent of Edge and Christian’s “Five Second Pose for the benefit of those with flash photography”. After he made me think about wrestling, he had everyone put their cameras away for the rest of the show so they would just focus on the music. I haven’t seen that done before, but I loved it.
Another thing to love about the performance were the cover songs, as there were a decent amount of those. Included were Snoop Dogg and Pharell’s “Beautiful”, the Isley Brothers’ “Work to Do”, and, my personal favorite, a perfect rendition of the Hall & Oates classic “You Make my Dreams Come True.” He also played a new song off of his upcoming album that has me even more excited about that release (set for October as of this posting) than I initially was, and that’s saying something.
Overall the sound was great, the energy was up, and the times were good. I think I smiled throughout the entire set as I was extremely happy throughout. That’s the mark of an amazing performance. If you have a chance to see Mayer Hawthorne perform live you cannot pass it up. Enjoy the music.
Here are 3 songs that were performed during the set:
Check out the video for “A Long Time” and visit either Stonesthrow Records or come back here for updates on the release of “How do you Do?”.
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In light of a bunch of recent and upcoming releases from various artists on the Stones Throw record label(www.stonesthrow.com), I decided that we should explore the variety and talent of some of the artists on the label.
First up is James Pants. His stuff is kind of off the wall, but still very enjoyable. He can play funk on one track and then doo wop on the next. His self titled LP just came out and he has released three free singles in order to promote it. Darlin’ sounds a bit like something you’d hear in the early 60s or late 50 but with way more distortion and reverb. Alone is more driving and takes on a darker tone. Lastly, he just released Clouds Over the Pacific , which sounds more chilled out and maybe a little video gamey. Yeah, that’s not a real adjective but it’s hard to describe James Pants, he’s got a very unique sound.
Pants’ labelmate Madvillain is hard to describe, too. He’s a rapper, but he’s got a unique flow and his tracks aren’t the norm for mainstream hip hop. That’s probably why he’s on a smaller label. I prefer it this way. Check out his song Papermill . The track sounds like it was sampled from a funk/rock song from the 70s and his delivery is sometimes off beat and choppy as though this is a freestyle(it might be, I didn’t do research), but it works.
On to someone who has a sound that is easier to describe. Aloe Blacc is straight soul. He sounds like he came straight from Motown in the 1960s. His songs use all the right timbres to evoke that feeling you get from listening to old 45s of the Temptations, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, and Sam Cook. Check out I Need A Dollar , Aloe sings the blues and asks for a dollar in return. He captures the feeling of despair and brings some reality to music.
The Motown sound doesn’t stop there. I was turned on to Stones Throw when I was lucky enough to discover Detroit’s own Mayer Hawthorne. When I first heard his music I thought he had sampled old songs and rearranged them. That wasn’t the case, Mr. Hawthorne is a musician in the truest sense of the word. If you haven’t gotten his debut LP Strange Arrangement you need to do so ASAP. Mayer has a covers album coming out this week, stay tuned to his Twitter feed to find out exactly when it happens as no date was given. Mr. Blue Sky , his cover of the Electric Light Orchestra hit, was given away for free earlier today in order to create some buzz for the eventual release of the entire album later this week. If it comes out on vinyl it will promptly be added to my collection.
Mayer Hawthorne released No Strings for free around October. Sounds old school, but not Motown. Best way to describe it is “80s Soul”. Just download it and listen, you’ll like it.