Music » Critics' Picks

Mayer Hawthorne & the County

8 p.m. Tuesday, May 22. The Firebird, 2706 Olive Street.



If Mayer Hawthorne & the County ever achieves household-name status, it may be possible to discuss the Ann Arbor, Michigan, native and band strictly on the merits of its Motown-indebted R&B jams. Until that fine day arrives, folks are frequently surprised by the dissonance between the audio and the visual. Hawthorne sounds like Smokey Robinson but looks like Elvis Costello. He sounds like 1967 but was born in 1979. His falsetto is butter-smooth, his tunes are timeless, and his records are produced with modern fidelity and classic class, putting him in league with neo-soul transcendentalists Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.

Notable Fans: Mayer Hawthorne has been championed by producer Mark Ronson, director Spike Jonze, presidentially noted jackass Kanye West, and indie hip-hop mogul Peanut Butter Wolf, who signed Hawthorne to his Stones Throw Records.