Alive Naturalsound Records

Independent record label based in LA. Home to The Black Keys, Two Gallants, Buffalo Killers, Radio Moscow, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Hacienda, John The Conqueror, Brian Olive, Black Diamond Heavies, Left Lane Cruiser, T-Model Ford, Thomas Function, Waves Of Fury, etc. More at

Friday, January 25, 2008

NATHANIEL MAYER - Pop Matters, Sailor Jerry

Pop Matters review of "Why Don't You Give It To Me?" : Nathaniel Mayer wants your love. Specifically, ladies, he wants your love. And, um, this elder R&B statesman might want just a bit more, as evidenced by his prowling growl on songs such as “Why Don’t You Show Me?”, “Why Don’t You Give it to Me?”, and “Doin’ It”. Yes, fathers, lock up your daughters because, some 40 years after several chart-topping singles, Mayer is back—and he’s still desperate. Whereas his true comeback record and first release in a non-single format—2004’s I Just Want to Be Held—channeled Detroit’s soul side, these nine songs spend more time exploring Motor City’s garage sound. Why Don’t You Give it to Me?, the opening and title track offers a distinctive Black Keys riff from Dan Auerbach paired with a loose and dirty backbeat from the rhythm section (which features members of The Sights, Outrageous Cherry, and Dirtbombs). Then, placed high in the sonic mix, Mayer appears with his own loose and dirty snarl begging the question of the album’s title. During the garage-soul originals that follow, Mayer croons, howls, and whimpers through a varied sonic palette—the hand-clapping and jaunty “White Dress”, the shuffling slow-burn “I’m a Lonely Man”, and the psychedelics of the nine-minute “Doin’ It”. The album closes with a reggae calypso cover of Delroy Wilson’s “Dancing Mood”. By the end of these 40 minutes, you can almost smell the cigarette smoke, cheap scotch, cologne and sweat emanating from Mayer’s powder-blue polyester suit. C’mon, give the man some love.

Sailor Jerry review :
So the other day I got a package from Alive Records containing some new releases. This (Nathaniel Mayer) CD caught my attention immediately and, although I had a ton of other stuff to do, I immediately popped it in. What I heard proceeded to blow my mind.

The first and title track of the record simultaneously reminded me of both "Exile on Mainstreet" era Stones and the Stooges "Funhouse", except for that instead of a pompous, white youth pour his/her heart it out it was the gravely voice of a black man in his late 60's.

Nathaniel Mayer started of his career in the early 60's with a string of singles on Detroit's Fortune Records reaching his peak on the 1962 Top 40 hit "Village of Love." After the following (great) singles failed to do as well Nay Dog faded into mainstream obscurity. He resurfaced, albeit briefly, in the 80's only to (as another article claimed), "descend back to the ghettos of Detroit." This only fueled the legend-producing myths that surrounded Mayer.

Fast-forward to 2002: Nathanial Mayer launches an extremely unexpected (to say the least) comeback, appealing to a generation far removed from his own by working with current artists inspired by his work. I.E. teaming up with some of the heavyweights of the garage circuit. Which leads us to now.

"Why Don't You Give To Me" easily comes across as a record from 40 years back. The recording brings to mind a thrown together, live in the studio affair straddling a line somewhere between a 60's psych/garage sound and something more akin to traditional blues. The song styles themselves range from Psych, Blues, Soul, Garage, Gospel Reggae and every shade in between but are all painted in heavy coats of vulnerability and emotion as if being pulled directly from Nathaniel's soul. His voice is as gravely and war-torn as you'd expect from a 60+ year old Detroit native, but somehow the same "something" that gives Nay's voice it's "old, wise and lived through it all" qualities also makes him sound incredibly both young and forward-reaching.

The band behind the man features Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, Matthey Smith of Outrageous Cherry, Troy Gregory of The Dirtbombs, and Dave Shettler of SSM and The Sights and really does an amazing job of keeping the overall vibe authentically 60's and current at the same time.

In short, even after only 6 or 7 listens, "Why Don't You Give To Me" is becoming one of my favourite records of the past few years and is quickly reaching back to become one of my favourites of any year with each listen.

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