Hip-hop fan and former DJ Mayer Hawthorne clearly finds roots in many musical genres, but he (and we) know that there is no place like Motown. The singer/songwriter from Ann Arbor, Michigan, resembles a soda-jerk Rivers Cuomo, but he croons (as Mayer Hawthorne and the County) with the heartwrenched falsetto finesse of Curtis Mayfield, Smokey Robinson, and contemporary soul-pop throwback showman Eli “Paperboy” Reed; last year’s debut, A Strange Arrangement, was rich with instantly memorable pop hooks (“Maybe So, Maybe No”), soulful breakup odes (“Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out”), and even topical politics buoyed by cheery brass and cheerier outlook (“The Ills”). Hawthorne effortlessly recalls an innocent sound and storied era, yet there’s boundless skill behind that boyish grin—and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more ebullient live show. With the Heavy.
Sun., Oct. 17, 7 p.m., 2010