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Mayer Hawthorne (l) and Aloe Blacc
Mayer Hawthorne (l) and Aloe Blacc

Music

Tale of the tape: Mayer Hawthorne v. Aloe Blacc Add to ...

Musical tastemakers have elected Mayer Hawthorne as the next big thing in blue-eyed croon, while superfly Aloe Blacc looks swell in any colour. The pair go soul-to-soul with crisscrossing Canadian concerts.

NAME

Mayer Hawthorne (birth name: Andrew Mayer Cohen)

Aloe Blacc (birth name: Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III)

HISTORY

Hawthorne: Born 31 years ago near (but not in) Detroit. The untrained singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist signed with the L.A.-based Stones Throw Records in 2008, last year releasing his stylish, shimmering debut disc, A Strange Arrangement.

Blacc: Born 31 years ago near (but not in) Los Angeles, the first-generation American offspring of Panamanian parents. Released his Stones Throw Records debut in 2006, following it up with the more assured Good Things from this year.

SOUND

Hawthorne: Influenced by Curtis Mayfield and Motown's Smokey Robinson, the nerdy, falsetto-singing Hawthorne specializes in lush, romantic soul-pop - usually piano-based and silk smooth.

Blacc: Inspired by Curtis Mayfield and Motown's Marvin Gaye, the suave, baritone-throated Blacc deals in gritty, tuneful soul, with lyrics expressing a peaking optimism among bad-times imagery.

ESSENTIAL TRACKS

Hawthorne: Maybe So, Maybe No is blissful piano-and-horn soul; One Track Mind focuses sublimely on the classic Hitsville USA swing; The Ills cures what ails you with hustling, upbeat Earth, Wind & Fire-like R&B.

Blacc: I Need a Dollar - the horn-happy theme to HBO's How to Make it in America - bounces and pleads with urgency and vulnerability; the feel-good You Make Me Smile grins with Mayfieldian wah-wah guitar and sappy, heart-filled joy; Hey Brother is badass - shut your mouth! - funk.

SHOWS

Hawthorne and his band the Country play Toronto's Opera House, Friday; and Vancouver's Biltmore Cabaret, Nov. 8.

Blacc sings at Vancouver's Fortune Sound Club, Nov. 6; Toronto's Wrongbar, Nov. 15; and Montreal's Le Belmont, Nov. 16.

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