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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

August 5, 2011 at 9:49 AM

Video with commentary: "A Long Time" by Mayer Hawthorne UPDATED

Posted by Andrew Matson

As for why the above video by California-via-Michigan soul singer Mayer Hawthorne is so great, I have two things to say. The first is: dancing. The second is: dancing.

The popping, the locking, the pumping. The ridiculous '80s clothing. And everyone with serious faces, or big smiles. It's enough to make you wonder, "Is this a VHS-taped dance show from Detroit in the '80s, hosted by R.J. Watkins — or are these actors, dancing now?" Because, you know, all this has come back around. The fashion, the synthesizers, even the visual warp of TV tracking and dubbed tape. All are referenced in music nowadays. Rap, soul and particularly chillwave, which often has a strong, surreal visual component. (Check this mildly NSFW video by Seattle 'wavers USF.)

There are no names on the vimeo page for "A Long Time" besides Hawthorne's, so we are left to believe he directed it. "A Long Time" was directed by Henry DeMaio. The video is certainly funny, but he isn't making fun of anything.

Since he branched out from being a rap DJ/producer to a revivalist soul singer a few years back, Hawthorne has masterfully balanced fun, funny and funky. He doesn't lay it on too thick, and when he's having fun, he's also sincere. That pitch-perfect levity should serve him well as he makes the transition from Los Angeles independent label Stones Throw, to Universal Records, the major label releasing his next album "How Do You Do?"

Meanwhile, in Seattle, we're waiting to hear what Hawthorne cooks up with local producer Jake One. They've been recording together in the OK Hotel in Pioneer Square, with sources indicating a West Coast boogie record is in the works.

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