Tag Archives: Curtis Mayfield

cat_preview

Matthe E. White and the Spacebomb Revue Come to Williamsburg

December 4th, 2013

Make no mistake: Matthew E. White is a musician. He’s a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger, and he even founded his own label in Richmond, Va., Spacebomb Records, which uses a house band—led by White on guitar, Cameron Ralston on bass and Pinson Chanselle on drums—for all of its work. Growing up in Virginia Beach and the Philippines, White listened to the likes of the Band, Curtis Mayfield, Brian Wilson and Stax-era R&B, and he has worked with Justin Vernon, Megafaun, the Mountain Goats and Sharon Van Etten, in addition to leading the avant-garde jazz big band Fight the Big Bull. In theory, that should really be enough for just one guy. But for Matthew E. White, it wasn’t. So last year, Spacebomb Records put out his acclaimed debut full-length, the soulful Big Inner (stream it below), reminding many of Randy Newman’s early work, thanks to White’s unique take on things. And upon the album’s release in the UK last winter, The Guardian said it “feels like a genuine revelation.” White (above, doing “Big Love” earlier this year at The Bowery Ballroom for Moshcam) is currently on tour with the Spacebomb Revue, which brings him, alongside electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist Dosh and Howard Ivans—a dance project led by the Rosebuds’ Ivan Howard—to Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night.

cat_preview

Cut Loose with the Heavy Tomorrow Night at Webster Hall

June 11th, 2013

It began in the ’90s, when singer Kelvin Swaby and guitarist Dan Taylor bonded over common interests in classic R&B and Jim Jarmusch flicks in South West England. From there, the two joined drummer Chris Ellul and bassist Spencer Page to form the Heavy, making a guitar-heavy rock-soul hybrid, highlighted by Swaby’s vocals, which earned him heady comparisons to Prince and Curtis Mayfield. The quartet first released several singles before their debut LP, Great Vengeance and Furious Fire, came out in 2007. Their next album, The House That Dirt Built, followed two years later, and, thanks to smash single “How You Like Me Now,” it earned the Heavy (above, doing “What Makes a Good Man” on Last Call with Carson Daly) appearances on TV and in soundtracks. But the quartet headed to Columbus, Ga., to record last year’s The Glorious Dead (stream it below). With its blues, funk and acid-rock influences, Allmusic praised the album as “the illegitimate offspring of the Black Keys and Gnarls Barkley.” Do yourself a favor and go see them play Webster Hall tomorrow night.

cat_preview

Matthew E. White Headlines The Bowery Ballroom on Monday

May 10th, 2013

Make no mistake: Matthew E. White is a musician. He’s a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger—and he even founded his own label, Spacebomb Records, which uses a house band—led by White on guitar, Cameron Ralston on bass and Pinson Chanselle on drums—for all of its work. Growing up in Virginia Beach and the Philippines, White listened to the likes of the Band, Curtis Mayfield, Brian Wilson and Stax-era R&B, and he has worked with Justin Vernon, Megafaun, the Mountain Goats and Sharon Van Etten, in addition to leading the avant-garde jazz big band Fight the Big Bull. In theory, that should really be enough for just one guy. But for Matthew E. White, it wasn’t. So last year, Spacebomb Records put out his acclaimed debut full-length, Big Inner (stream it below), reminding many of Randy Newman’s early work, thanks to White’s unique take on things. And upon the album’s release in the UK this past winter, The Guardian said it “feels like a genuine revelation.” White (above, doing “Will You Love Me” for WFUV FM) has spent the past month touring Europe, but you can see him on Monday night at The Bowery Ballroom.

cat_reviews

The Weather It Is a-Changin’

February 8th, 2013

American Royalty/Vensaire – Mercury Lounge – February 7, 2013

American Royalty

As the Northeast awaited another impending storm, the theme of the fantastic late double bill at Mercury Lounge last night was “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes,” as both bands hit a dizzying array of sounds, themes and influences, filling every minute with crowd-pleasing music.

First up, Vensaire took the stage while green laser spots floated around the entire room like CGI fairies bringing a little magic to the Lower East Side. To understand Vensaire, all you need to know is they’re the kind of band that that is very easy to dance to and also the kind of band that has a violin player. Their opening song was nine minutes long and stretched through multiple sections, somewhat freaky-folk Grizzly Bear-ish, before an extended, pounding, triumphant ooh-la-la coda that could have been its own song. From there, the band pulled in some Japanese influences, the violin sounding downright eerie. Throughout the set four different musicians took lead vocals and everyone put their own punctuation on the sound—art-rock vocals, groovy bass and keys, and a prog-y lead guitar, covering a lot of territory, all very smart, all very open and loose, and all very danceable.

Picking up where Vensaire left off, American Royalty began in a now nearly packed room with an ambitious string of songs that featured multiple overlapping sections. And each seemed to bounce among styles: It almost felt like an expert DJ working the turntables, mixing and layering sounds to create a new music. Except these guys were doing it live, and every transition was perfect, the trio hitting three main styles: Zeppelin-esque rock and roll, soul and dance club in some combination in their set. About midway through, American Royalty covered Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman,” which was perfectly nearly unrecognizable, a real-time remix that captured the essence of the original but re-envisioned it as an American Royalty classic. From there the set was one workout to the next—including the standout material from their released-this-week Prismatic EP—fist-pumping sections comingling with hip twisters, each song building a narrative and usually ending in a high-energy climax. So, yeah, if you didn’t like the “conditions” in the room last night, they’d change soon enough, except it was more like every 30 seconds and, as it turned out, everyone seemed to love it all. —A. Stein