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

Thursday, June 12, 2008


At its origin point, rhythm-&-blues -- or "soul" music -- is merely a natural extension of the blues themselves. (Just listening to early Ray Charles, Otis Redding or Aretha Franklin is evidence enough that this is accurate.) Over time, however, like most genres of music, R&B has become just another watered-down offshoot of pop music. It will take more records like this one from Nathaniel Mayer to remind people of R&B's natural roots. This music comes from a place that is more raw, nasty and authentic than most anything else labeled "R&B" these days, making it that much more valuable.
Mayer, a local soul legend in Detroit, has, alas, recorded only sporadically over the years, and while his past albums have been good, they could be seen as simply the Motown sound made grungy. This album, however, is something more. In the 1960s, young blues punks of the day such as Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield, and the Rolling Stones teamed up with Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf to enliven the music of those giants and create something new for the younger generation to connect with. In the same way, on this album Mayer is backed by some of the young guns of the thriving Rust Belt music scene who've been mixing the blues and garage rock into a new, exciting sound. They include Matthew Smith, who also recently backed the late, idiosyncratic bluesman Paul "Wine" Jones on his final album, as well as Dan Auerbach of the phenomenal Black Keys. The resulting album is rough, ragged, and funky and may require repeated spins before the listener can acclimate. But even beyond that, it is a noteworthy step in the development of genuinely soulful music. Mayer, Smith and Auerbach are fighting to help this music survive, and their efforts are worthy of acclaim. - Nonzine

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