As a member of the critically acclaimed, gold-selling hip-hop outfit Jurassic 5, Mark Potsic, aka DJ Nu-Mark, graces the group with precision production and cutting-edge stage routines. His most recent release as a solo artist is Broken Sunlight.
The third album for any artist seems to send them on a soul-searching adventure that eventually leads most of them to the age-old question: “What more can I express?” Soul revivalist Mayer Hawthorne (his mom knows him as Andrew Cohen) doesn’t seem to be affected by this artistic quandary. What I find most striking about Where Does This Door Go is that no boundaries or outlines confine its art. It feels free and expressive while maintaining a solid funk foundation. “Her Favorite Song” is a shining example of this musical layout: the deep, rugged bass line and drum loop give you hope for music again. (Oh, not to mention the remix by the one and only Large Professor, who gives the track an incredible pocket to bob to.)
Where Does This Door Go captures a classic spongey funk rhythm section with up-to-date, slick wordplay and adds a new element to Hawthorne’s music arsenal: classic rock, almost like Steely Dan mixed with a Sweet Soul-style vocal delivery. “The Only One” starts out almost like a west coast anthem mixed with Hall and Oates, with a great three-note horn/vibraphone hit that wakes you up before the hook. Speaking of hooks, Hawthorne caps off the chorus by blazing a driving DJ Scratch bridge. “Crime” features a Middle Eastern guitar line that almost seems to vanish when all the streamlined musical parts are added to it — they fit together so cohesively that you don’t really notice each instrument. This is one to ride to, a perfect fit for the diehard musical enthusiast, not to mention the fact that it features a winner verse from Cali’s own Kendrick Lamar.
The music is still very connected to Hawthorne’s 2009 debut A Strange Arrangement, where he displayed his knack for a funky musical pocket matched with a northern soul twist to his vocals. And yet Where Does This Door Go really is the perfect title for this album, because it roots itself in the wonderment of a new path and the challenge of change. The title track sits in a wonderful tempo, breathing and delivering a dreamy vibe; the string section is a knock-down killer — I haven’t heard anything like it since the great ’70s. It’s one thing to create a rustic-sounding string section but entirely something else when it’s catchy and actually changes the way you feel. This joint almost sounds like 10cc is hiding in the background. And yet you don’t feel like you’re stuck in a bygone era because of the arrangements and his natural delivery. Predictability is miles away from this musical landscape. Where Does This Door Go eases you into the spirit of love but you don’t realize it until after it washes over you. It’s OK to open this door!