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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Mayer Hawthorne, deftones, the Lumineers, Ben Harper and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Sunday, April 10, 2016

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Mayer Hawthorne

"Man About Town"


Grade: B+

After sidesteps into the Ghetto Tech of Jaded Incorporated with 14KT and the throwback soul of Tuxedo with Jake One, Ann Arbor's Andrew Cohen has again donned the sharp threads of Mayer Hawthorne, returning to the blue-eyed soul he does with timeless ease. Hawthorne is smoother than ever on "Man About Town," his fourth studio album (and first in three years), sliding effortlessly from the synthesized kush of "Cosmic Love" and "Breakfast in Bed" through the bouncy pop of "Book of Broken Hearts," the understated disco of "Out Of Pocket," the guitar-driven reggae of "Fancy Clothes" and the Steely Dan choruses of "The Valley." The nine songs here owe more to Philly than Motown -- particularly on the more muscular "Lingerie & Candlewax" -- but Hawthorne again manages to make his blend of falsettos, female backing choruses, horns, strings and light funk sound as contemporary to the 21st century as it would in the mid- and late-1970s. "What will you make of this life?" he asks at the beginning of the set; "Man About Town" only adds to the considerable creative mark Hawthorne has made during the past seven years.

New & Noteworthy:

deftones, "Gore" (Reprise): The California alt.metal troupe's eight studio album has a gauzy, ambient feel that clearly draws some influence from frontman Chino Moreno's side projects such as Team Sleep and Crosses.

Filter, "Crazy Eyes" (Wind-Up): Filter founder Richard Patrick did another complete lineup overhaul for his seventh album under the moniker.

Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, "Call It What It Is" (Stax): The rootsy singer/songwriter/guitarist reconvenes with his best-known backing band for their first album together in nine years.

The Lumineers, "Cleopatra" (Dualtone): The Americana group from New Jersey returns with its sophomore album for years after its breakout self-titled debut.

Ronnie Spector, "English Heart" (Savoy): The iconic 60s singer and Ronnettes frontwoman offers her take on British favorites by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks and more.

Peter Wolf, "A Cure For Loneliness" (Concord): The J. Geils Band's Woofah Goofah's latest solo set is heartfelt, soulful and diverse -- right down to a bluegrass live version of his group's "Love Stinks."

Also Out: Hayes Carll, "Lovers and Leavers" (Hwy 87); Cult of Luna, "Mariner" (Indie Recordings); The Dandy Warhols, "Distortland" (Dine Alone); The Dose, "The Dose" (Index); Mark Erelli, "For a Song" (self-released); Erra, "Drift" (Summerian); Frightened Rabbit, "Painting of a Panic Attack" (Atlantic); Great American Canyon Band, "Only You Remain" (Six Degrees); The Gloaming, "2" (Brassland); Lizanne Knott, "Excellent Day" (Proper Music); David Krakauer's Ancestral Groove, "Checkpoint" (Table Pounding); Shannon LaBrie, "War & Peace" (LaBrie/BUTR); Lights, "Midnight Machines" (Warner Bros.); M83, "Junk" (Mute); Javina Magness, "Love Wins Again" (Blue Elan); Jane Monheit, "Songbook Sessions...Ella Fitzgerald" (self-released); Operators, "Blue Wave" (Last Gang); Parquet Courts, "Human Performance" (Rough Trade); Curtis Salgado, "The Beautiful Lowdown" (Alligator); Wolfie's Just Fine, "I Remembered But Then I Forgot" (Normal Guy); Zakk Wylde, "Book of Shadows II" (eOne)

From the Vaults: Deep Purple, "Stormbringer (35th Anniversary Edition)" (Rhino); Glenn Frey, "Take It To the Limit: Radio Broadcast 1986"; Guns N` Roses, "In the Empire of the Sun" (Sonic Boom); Rush, "Ohio 1975" (Good Ship Funke); Warren Zevon, "Simple Man, Simple Dreams: Radio Broadcast 1982" (Laser Media)

Soundtracks: Various Artists, "Music From the Motion Picture `Everybody Wants Some!!'" (Warner Bros.)

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