Nathaniel Mayer CD review by Howard Wuelfing

Music Reviews
Nathaniel Mayer CD review by Howard Wuelfing
By
Jan 16, 2008, 19:13

Nathaniel Mayer - Why Don't You Give It to Me?
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NATHANIEL MAYER Why Don't You Just Give It To Me? CD

The first shock is the accompaniment—an unashamedly motley assortment of vintage psychedelia sans any pop affectation whatsoever, and MidWestern honky R&B ram-a-lama deluxe. A battle of the bands between Big Brother & The Holding Co. and the MC5 would have sounded like this! Production throughout is deliberately archaic; it's all drenched in reverb, the EQ is all top or bottom with no mid-range. The feel is loose and off-the-cuff and all cuts seem like first takes. Add a six pack o' suds and a doobie or two and you've evoked retro scuzz-rock heav'en on earth.

Now add in lead vocalist Nathaniel Mayer, an older African American gentlemen who's one part blues growler, one part R&B slickster… and 98 parts nutter! His vocal attack is rubbery, petulant and errant.  The man's got decent pipes but constantly sacrifices proper pitch and inflection on behalf of emotional largesse; the results are consistently wild-ass.  The pairing of this particular singer and players might sound awkward but in fact it's inspired and alchemical. The choice of a freaky, yet non-ironic frontman keeps the end results from being a mere exercise in nostalgia. Besides, both Detroit high-energy and early West Coast psychedelia evolved from garage rock, primarily white teens drawing on indigenous R&B traditions for their ripostes to the British Invasion (which also derived from R&B and blues).

A lot of these songs ramble and all could benefit from a bit of trimming to achieve maximum potency.  But even as is—this is a healthy slap in the face to current pop orthodoxies. [Alive/Naturalsound]

-Howard Wuelfing

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