The Killers | Battle Born | Album Review

It has been a while since The Killers graced us with there ever so delightful arena rock anthems, we have all come to love…. or hate (insert Sam’s Town).  Well, the boys from Vegas are back with their new album Battle Born and upon first listen, I can say that the production on the album fails to disappoint. While it is hard to trump Hot Fuss, which had a more dance/new wave feel, Battle Born seems to take us on a voyage from beginning to end, an album that seems to fit like a perfect puzzle. 

With Brandon Flowers once again commanding vocal duties, it is his recognizable voice that carries the album. Joining him is Ronnie Vanucci Jr. on drums, Mark Stoerner on bass, and Dave Keuning on guitar.  This is their fourth studio album that was recorded in their hometown studio in Las Vegas.

 On the first track he asks, “What are you made of…?” demanding the chorus of the track “Flesh and Bone”.  The first single off the album “Runaway” displays some very intricate and carefully masterful guitar play from Keuning and bassist Stoerner. The track has been getting heavy radio play and soon will have us all singing it in our sleep. With Flowers belting out the chorus, it is his story telling that seems to get lost in translation as it is carefully put together from the beginning of the song until the final guitar riff. On "From Here On Out", Flowers channels his inner Petty and Springsteen with a song that would seem fit for a cross-country trip through middle America.

A sense of musical maturity has been established on this album and having the right people behind the mixing boards can truly give it it’s dynamic sound. Gone are the dance-friendly tracks in favor of the epic anthems and songs of heartbreak that they seem to be churning out today.

I would say that I do favor the sound on Hot Fuss and Sawdust a bit more, but Battle Born will give any fan of The Killers a new sound of experimentation that every band toys with during their career at one point. I would rate this album a solid 8 out of 10.

Fans can check out their live American Express UNSTAGED performance tonight:

Also, they are getting ready to head out on tour with its first stop right here in Colorado at The 1st Bank Center on  November 29th with Tegan and Sara. More info can be found here.


Radiohead at the 1st Bank Center: 3/13 Review

Tuesday night at The 1st Bank Center in Broomfield was one for the ages.  Thom Yorke and company delighted the sold-out crowd with a show that will be talked about for years to come.  For me it held a special place; Radiohead has been my favorite band for a long time now and getting a chance to see them live for the first time was truly an experience in itself.  We arrived just in time for the opening number “Bloom” of their latest album King of Limbs. Flanked by an LED wall and panels that changed position with each different song, the visual element of the show only added to the grand spectacle of the performance. The square panels often shifted after a song and displayed a visual of each member’s face, giving us a closer look at the passion they put into each and every song.

The night’s setlist ranged from singles coming off of seven of their eight studio albums.  While showcasing more from their latest, they still played a few classics including “Karma Police”, “Street Spirit”, and “The National Anthem”.  As the set grew, it seemed that Yorke became more acclimated to the crowd, dancing and interacting. ”Where are we? Where the fuck are we? ...somewhere in the mountains”.  The crowd ate it up and continued to rock out to the almost three hour set.

Yorke and company seemed in their comfort zone, it usually takes a band a while to reach that level, but with nine shows under their belt on this current tour, you can see how each member thrives off each other. The Greenwood brothers, Johnny and Colin, have always brought a unique element to their live sets with an array on non-conventional instruments that gives Radiohead that signature sound we have all come to love, or hate. For this tour they have brought in another drummer in addition to Phil Selway, judging by their unique bald look you wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart.  The often under appreciated Ed O’Brien rounds out the band. Many of Radiohead’s harmonies are created by the talented O’Brien; none more evident than when they played “There, There”.

In all, the show would rank as one of my favorites of all time. It’s hard to say that when I consider them my favorite band, but nobody would agree more than the 5,000 plus in attendance that night. 




Pretty Lights to ring in the New Year

 While you are all still recovering from a Christmas food baby and possible hang over, it is time to start getting amped up for a two-night New Year celebration with Pretty Lights and company.  The 30th will open with Porter Robinson and Supervision alongside Derek Smith while the 31st will include Zedd and Paul Basic.  A sold out 1st Bank Center, packed with 5,000 plus people, could possibly explode due to high energy and some serious bass.  When the countdown begins and the clock strikes midnight, Pretty Lights will definitately bring it harder than the party happening in Times Square.  The expectation has been set!




Skrillex at The 1st Bank Center: October 31, 2011 (Halloween): Review

He, by far, has one of the coolest and most game-changing stage sets I’ve ever been able to see. By now, some of you may have heard about his motion-tracking system, but hearing about and seeing it live is another thing. Skrillex’s stage is a giant white backdrop with 3D six-side pillars attached to it. This backdrop is bookended by two giant LED screens. Some rather large (and probably very expensive) projectors back at the soundstage put on a spectacle that adds a visual element to the show that could stand on its own. The screen continually presents a story that molds itself and evolves to everything that Skrillex lays down. Occasionally, the projectors display a character on the screen that not only fits the mood of the song being spun, but also tracks the every movement that Skrillex makes. If he is bouncing to the music, so do the characters behind him. If he throws his hands up asking for more from the crowd (which they were more than willing to give) then the giant robotic character behind him demands the same. I came to this show expecting to have a good time listening to most of the songs I could hear on a Skrillex Pandora station. And while Skrillex did play a version of most of these songs, I not only was privileged to hear them live, but I felt them with every bass drop, and saw them come to life on the screen in a way I’ve never seen any other show successfully complete.

I think the most exciting thing for me is that Skrillex is only 23 years old and has already made his stamp in the industry. He provides his own take on a genre that influences so many other up and comers. Castro and I have already begun talking about our Top Shows of 2011, and not to give away too much, as we still have another couple months of awesome show coming up, but this is definitely a top contender for me.

Download Mayer Hawthorne's Impressions The Covers EP


Download Impressions Here:


 1. Work To Do- Isley Bros
This one features my live band, The County: Quentin Joseph on drums, Topher Mohr on guitar, Quincy McCrary on piano, and Joe Abrams on bass. It was recorded live in a radio station studio somewhere during our Winter 2010 US tour. The tapes recently surfaced, but nobody can remember exactly where we were. The song is originally by The Isley Brothers, and that's the only version I was familiar with until we started playing it in our live shows and people would come up to us and say "hey, loved your cover of Average White Band!".

2. Don't Turn The Lights On- Chromeo
My favorite track from Chromeo's latest LP. On the surface it's an electro-funk, dance floor filler, but underneath is a brilliant love ballad with lyrics that reminded me of something from Tyrone Davis. Dave1 (of Chromeo) told me the song is about a guy who falls in love with a ghost, so I wanted my version to have an eerie, ghostly feel to it. Quincy McCrary played the creepy piano solo at the end.

3. You've Got The Makings Of A Lover- The Festivals
Textbook Northern Soul from a little known Dallas, Texas group called The Festivals. I was digging for records in NY with my homey DJ Kurse, and the shopkeeper played the 45 in the store. Both of us immediately ran up to the counter and said "yo! what is THAT?!". The original version was recorded in the late 60s, and the mix isn't very good. I wanted a version that I could bump. Quentin Joseph played the drums and we recorded them at Sam Beaubien's studio in Detroit. That's Sam playing the trumpet as well.

4. Fantasy Girl - Steve Salazar
This song was written and composed by an amazing man from Pasadena named Steve Salazar. He was born with a heart condition and passed away at the young age of 27. Before he died he recorded one incredible album of demos in the mid-70s with a band called Shorty's Portion. Peanut Butter Wolf found a copy of the album and I loved it so much that he gave it to me (thanks Wolf!). The vinyl had a handwritten note tucked in the sleeve that was addressed to anyone who could help the band with management, a record deal, radio airplay, etc. I'd estimate there were less than 300 copies pressed. That's my Dad playing pedal steel guitar on my version.

5. Little Person- Jon Brion
Jon Brion is not from this planet. He penned this song for the soundtrack to Charlie Kaufman's film "Synecdoche, NY". I didn't get the film at all, but I really got the soundtrack. The original has only female vocal and piano, but I always heard a larger arrangement. Hubert Alexander played some of the piano and I did everything else.

6. Mr. Blue Sky- ELO
This one also features my band, The County, and was recorded live, in one take, in a tiny makeshift tent, at a festival in Dour, Belgium.