Mayer Hawthorne Lends Throwback Feel to KCRW’s Apogee Sessions

KCRW’s Apogee Sessions, named after the Santa Monica recording studio where these intimate performances/chats take place, remain one of the more sought-after tickets in a town where live music is so ubiquitous it’s almost bewildering.

For one thing, they’re largely invite-only affairs, which makes them hard to take for granted. They’re also highly concentrated — not just in terms of capacity, which is 180 people max — but also the shows themselves, which are usually over not much more than 90 minutes after the doors have opened.

The latest installment, which took place Monday night and will air April 8 on KCRW, featured retro-soul frontman Mayer Hawthorne, who mixed select cuts from his upcoming studio album, “Man About Town,” his fourth, with material from previous works.

If one were to draw a parallel between Hawthorne and the heroes who influenced him, it would lead directly to Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates, whose webcast, “Live From Daryl’s House,” featured Hawthorne singing a lush version of “A Strange Arrangement,” the title tune from his debut LP, in a 2011 episode. It was as if Hall was passing the baton to a younger version of himself.

Like Hall’s, Hawthorne’s voice is pliable enough, managing to hit the falsetto notes on such tunes as “Designer Drug,” a bonus track from Hawthorne’s third studio album, “Where Does This Door Go” and “Cosmic Love,” a kind of slow-burn track that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Curtis Mayfield record. Hawthorne’s five-piece band, including JimiJames on backup vocals, ably transitioned from R&B to reggae to rock, with the singer at one point quoting Brenton Wood’s “Just Gimme Some Kind of Sign” as a way of cementing the evening’s throw-back feel.

As is his wont, Apogee host Jason Bentley made this a fanboy lovefest, peppering Hawthorne with questions both professional and personal, making it clear he’s been following the Ann Arbor, Mich., transplant’s career since he first surfaced in 2009.

“When I’m deejaying, my ultimate goal is to get people to move,” Hawthorne told Bentley about a profession he practiced for 10 years before launching his career as a solo artist, and which he continues to hone at such events as the just-wrapped SXSW music fest in Austin, Texas.

“It definitely helps when I put my albums together,” Hawthorne added about the discipline. “Every song transitions into the next. I sequence them as if in a deejay set.”

More Music

  • Peter Bjorn and John -Björn Yttling

    As Peter Björn & John Celebrates 20 Years, the Band Returns to its 'Darker' Roots

    A trifecta of pure energy hit the stage at the Teragram Ballroom in Downtown Los Angeles Saturday night as Peter Björn & John performed the second-to-last stop of a 2018 tour. Promoting their new album “Darker Days,” which dropped October 19, the band went back to basics as a three-piece for this outing (drummer John [...]

  • Adam Levine Cardi B

    Maroon 5 and How the Super Bowl Halftime Show Became Music's Least Wanted Gig

    Who would have thought that the Super Bowl Halftime show, an American institution watched by more than 100 million people, would become the least wanted gig in music? But thanks to the ongoing controversy concerning the NFL’s stance on a player’s right to protest, brought to the forefront by football’s top conscientious objector Colin Kaepernick, [...]

  • Mary Poppins 1964

    P.L. Travers' Efforts to Adapt 'Mary Poppins' for Film, TV Were Often Less Than Jolly

    Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” a sequel decades in the making, opens Dec. 19. Even before the 1964 original, Hollywood made several attempts to adapt P.L. Travers’ books, with Samuel Goldwyn and Katharine Hepburn among those involved in the chase. But aside from a one-hour 1949 CBS television version, they all hit a dead-end. The first [...]

  • Kanye West

    Kanye West Accuses Drake of 'Threatening' His Family in Epic Twitter Binge

    Kanye West re-ignited his feud with Drake on Thursday night, accusing the rapper of “threatening” his family in a dozens-long Twitter binge on Thursday night. The latest installment of the saga between the former friends — which flared up most dramatically back in May when Pusha T revealed that Drake has a son with model [...]

  • Kacey Musgraves Cardi B Janelle Monae

    The Best Albums of 2018

    Even by recent standards, these are times that try human souls. And not surprisingly, that was reflected in the music of 2018: Whether metaphorically responding to the political realities of America (“Black Panther), mimicking the ADD nature of modern culture (Terra Whack) or simply providing a distraction, however brief, from too much reality (take your [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content