Mayer Hawthorne and the County made their New York debut at Santos Party House this Tuesday for Beyond Race Magazine’s 3rd year anniversary celebration. After a weekend of DJ gigs at APT and a Fader party with Benji B, Mayer Hawthorne (one of Andrew Cohen’s many aliases) and The County poised themselves in all seriousness on the stage with the theatrics of a band in much the same vain as back in the day when performances meant more than self-gratifying banging of instruments and stomping on a stage. Retro soul music must be accompanied by retro soul performance standards, i.e. quality entertainment made for audiences, whereby The County made a full delivery.
Uniformity, perfectly timed instrumental cues, and harmonizing vocals from all of the band members to accent Mayer’s dreamy falsetto are fantastically formulaic elements of Stonesthrow’s newest inductees. Remember again that there was an equation that was foolproof back in Motown’s heyday.
A suburban white boy in a cardigan singing the type of music that your parents made-out to when they were young whipper snappers (not my parents, because they were communists in China listening to red army jingles), makes just as much sense as his single “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” being an irresistibly romantic breakup song, but all of the other cards are laid out right. When he hit that first note, I saw a few grown-ass men in the audience get that misty eye, especially when he played that little xylophone of his. Other notables were “Maybe So, Maybe No”, and a climactic finale of “Love is Alright” inspiring a collective handclap experience. This live performance will be marked in history books as an authoritative breakthrough in preparation for the drop of “A Strange Arrangement” debut LP due out this fall. I bet you’ll want this one on vinyl.
- Boyuan Gao