Washington State-based rock band the Mayfield Four certainly have their ducks all in a row, and look as close to a sure thing as any recent new major-label contender.
Together less than two years, this clean-cut (by contemporary standards) crew is managed by Eric Hoppe, a recent graduate of Susan Silver’s (Soundgarden, Alice in Chains) management team, and enjoys the services of influential attorney Peter Paterno, a one-two punch that earned the quartet a fat deal with Sony’s Epic Records.
That formidable team put the band in the studio last year with producer Jerry Harrison — the former Talking Heads member who produced Live’s multiplatinum “Throwing Copper” — and Brendan O’Brien (of Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine reknown), and the resulting album, “Fallout,” is, not surprisingly, one of the best mass-appeal rock records of the year.
What’s more, the band can actually play, and before a chattering Viper Room crowd on Wednesday the four members — in particular singer, guitarist and songwriter Myles Kennedy — confidently showed they’re more than prepared to overcome the bidding-war albatross that sinks most overpaid rookies.
Kennedy is the stand-out in the group, a striking fellow whose MTV-ready style (imagine a much hipper looking Kevin Bacon) and yearning lyrics of growing up and finding one’s indentity will appeal to those sick of waiting for the next Bush album.
The three other members of the Mayfield Four, a name with no apparent meaning, maintained a low profile while dispensing a succession of Led Zep-inspired riffs and beats, rarely straying from the song versions found on their just-released album, though guitarist Craig Johnson’s lap steel efforts during the band’s infectious single “Always” was a treat.
The 8-song showcase was highlighted by a passionate, set-closing rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues,” which smoldered with the intensity of 1985-model U2 and was by far the loosest groove of the evening.