CONOR MAYNARD plays the Molson Amphitheatre August 16. See listing. Rating: NNN
Major label A&R execs have pretty much stopped looking for their next big things in live clubs and now just scour the internet for anyone getting big YouTube numbers. That's where Adele got her start and where the UK's newest pop sensation, Conor Maynard, comes from. Unlike Adele, however, Maynard probably won't have much success outside the teen market he's currently ruling overseas. He's being sold as the British Justin Bieber, so if you can't stand top-40 contemporary dance pop, don't bother (and consider not leaving your house for the next couple of years).
Listen to Contrast with an open mind, though, and you hear a kid with real talent. On tracks like Can't Say No, he manages an oddly menacing, grimy vibe, while Lift Off channels Michael Jackson singing over an Inner City techno-pop groove. Mary Go Round sounds like an outtake from one of the Weeknd's mixtapes, as does Glass Girl. Ultimately still teen pop, but much better than it should be. Don't dismiss Maynard too quickly.
Top track: Glass Girl