Tag Archives: Matthew E. White

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Ages and Ages Play Mercury Lounge with Skyway Man Tomorrow

July 19th, 2017

On Ages and Ages’ newest album, Something to Ruin (stream it above), the Portland, Ore., band takes upbeat and inspiring choral pop to some dark places. Oh, you know, just the collapse of Western civilization, done in by consumerism and neglect. Their music retains its uplifting openheartedness, a modern-day gospel with a progressive spirit. Ages and Ages (above, performing “As It Is” for WFUV FM) bring their communal energy—shared vocals, thoughtful melodies and an abundance of handclaps—to Mercury Lounge on Thursday. The early show will kick off with Skyway Man (below, doing “We Both Have Nothing to Fear”), the creative effort of Nashville, Tenn., singer-songwriter James Wallace. He’ll be playing music from the recently released Seen Comin’ from a Mighty Eye (stream it below), an under-the-radar sci-fi folk epic recorded with Matthew E. White in his Spacebomb Studios. The combined bill will be rife with excellent songs, some unique sounds and plenty to contemplate: past, present and future. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Natalie Prass Comes to Music Hall of Williamsburg Tomorrow Night

November 9th, 2015

Natalie Prass grew up around Virginia Beach with an affinity for music and art, which led to her attending the famed Berklee College of Music. But it didn’t exactly take, so she left Boston and ultimately settled in Nashville. Music City ended up being the perfect home for the singer-songwriter, who, while biding her time, had ample opportunities to work on her craft. She’s previously hit the road backing Jenny Lewis, but back in January, Prass (above, performing “Why Don’t You Believe in Me” at SXSW for WFUV FM) saw her long- awaited, acclaimed self-titled debut full-length (stream it below) on Matthew E. White’s Spacebomb Records—although the album was actually finished in 2012. (Prass and White were childhood friends.) Despite the wait, critics have been absolutely knocked out. Pitchfork gave the LP its Best New Music label, and Paste magazine declared, “Over nine songs, Prass shows a range in songwriting, from anthems to confident R&B burners to whimsical prairie folk to theatrical grandeur. It is the debut of a songwriter not struggling to find a voice, but fully formed and confident as all hell. She makes knowing nods to Joni Mitchell, Lesley Gore, Diana Ross and Joanna Newsom, all while seeming natural and instinctual. She is the product of her influences and still original.” Currently winding down her most recent tour, Natalie Prass plays Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night. Loamlands, out of Durham, N.C., open the show.

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Matthew E. White Hits Another Home Run in Brooklyn

August 10th, 2015

Matthew E. White – Rough Trade NYC – August 7, 2015

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Matthew E. White has been making himself pretty comfortable in Brooklyn this year. Friday night’s set at Rough Trade NYC was his third trip to the borough in 2015, and judging how the show went, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another one in the not too distant future. Before White and his band took the stage, though, they joined the crowd in enjoying the eye-opening warm-up set from Sleepwalkers, who almost immediately won over the crowd with a slick one-two opening segue and kept it going with an impressive array of high-energy genre hopping.

Returning dressed in suits, White and his band were instantly at home again, opening with a noodle-y two-guitar intro to “Tranquility,” off of his new Fresh Blood LP. Alan Parker matched White on guitar as the song took form before the rest of the band kicked in to the mix. “One of These Days” was an early set tutorial in the highs and lows of White’s sound, his whispered vocals became impassioned screams and back again, the groove whipped to a puree by the blender bass of Cameron Ralston, and extended instrumental passages reaching multiple peaks. Although it felt impossible to top that climactic second song, they did their best, following with “Vision,” which opened with White softly singing, “Nobody in the world is better than us,” and finished with drummer Pinson Chanselle slamming his way through a rocking jam-out.

The remainder of the set balanced deep grooves and ecstatic rock, each song taking things to the warning track, most of them sailing easily over the fence. A cover of the Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat” opened into a lengthy, exhilarating noise jam that flipped to the sexy, bedroom soul of “Take Care My Baby,” followed by “Steady Pace” and an ensuing, intense Marvin Gaye–meets–the Who moment. Things grew even more raucous for “Feeling Good Is Good Enough,” White inviting members of Sleepwalkers up for an unplanned sit-in, leading the crowd in a boisterous sing-along before Parker hopped on the floor to engage in a fiery guitar duel. Finally closing with an everybody-dance-now version of “Rock & Roll Is Cold,” the comfort level was at an all time high for White and Brooklyn both. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Kick Off Your Weekend with Matthew E. White at Rough Trade NYC

August 4th, 2015

Make no mistake: Matthew E. White is a musician. He’s a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger, and he even formed his own label, Spacebomb Records, which uses a house band—led by White on guitar, Cameron Ralston on bass, Pinson Chanselle on drums and Trey Pollard on guitar—for all of its work. “White has built a potential powerhouse the likes of which haven’t been seen since the late ’50s and ’60s, since the heyday of Motown and Stax Records,” according to New Republic. “A studio that produces records with a house band and a rotating stable of musicians, taking advantage of local creativity and regional flavor.” Growing up in Virginia Beach and the Philippines, White listened to the likes of the Band, Curtis Mayfield, Brian Wilson, and ’60s and ’70s R&B, and he’s worked with Justin Vernon, Megafaun, Natalie Prass, 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 Spacebomb Records put out his acclaimed debut full-length, Big Inner (stream it below), in 2013, reminding many of Randy Newman’s early work, thanks to White’s unique take on things. And he followed that with this year’s exceptional Fresh Blood (stream it below), which the Guardian labeled “a delicious second helping,” and about which, NPR Music opined, “The high quality of performance and arranging, the generous spirit of its narrator, the ear-candy moments of instant comfort that permeate Fresh Blood—all that is how Matt White and his crew salute their inspirations.” And as good as his albums are, White and Co. (above, doing “Rock & Roll Is Cold” for KEXP FM) are even better live. So don’t miss him on Friday night at Rough Trade NYC.

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Natalie Prass Entrances a Sold-Out Rough Trade NYC

February 9th, 2015

Natalie Prass – Rough Trade NYC – February 6, 2015

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Natalie Prass was nothing if not alluring at her sold-out Rough Trade NYC show on Friday night. Yes, there was that stylish, short white-and-black floral dress and her flirtatious banter, but the real sexiness was in Prass’s music: her mesmerizing songs, the subtle flavors of her voice, the bounce of the bass and drums, the come-hither grooviness of the electric piano and some steamy guitar. On her justifiably acclaimed self-titled debut full-length, Prass’s music is adorned with an orchestra and a production that display a mature, capable performer with a power and wisdom beyond her years. Live, the music is stripped down to its unmentionables and the Friday night crowd was entranced with the results.

Prass opened on the piano accompanied by her crackerjack band from the Spacebomb indie-soul stable, based in Richmond, Va., led by Trey Pollard on guitar. On songs like “My Baby Don’t Understand Me,” she was in complete control of the room, silences were truly silent, the typical Friday night chatter and bartender glass clanking seemed to disappear in the magic of the moment. After guiding the band through several groove-hooked numbers during which you could almost feel everyone in the room falling head over heels, Prass paused to joke about how she had been described as a Disney princess before grabbing the microphone for “It Is You.” Lots of musicians hop down into the crowd and lots of them try to get more people to dance. But midway through her Disney audition, Prass went one further, hopping down to the floor and grabbing a guy to slow dance with to her own song as the band kept vamping, the crowd, feeling the moment, swaying along.

A pair of covers at opposite ends of the spectrum aptly summed up Prass’s sound: Janet Jackson’s “Any Time Any Place” and Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You.” The former (“a dirty song”) came off as a mesmerizing slow jam with the band locked in on the heart of the groove, invoking the Valentine’s Day spirit a week early. For the Cline cover, the two ladies from Lady Lady (who played a terrific Nashville-esque opening set), joined Prass, the three of them trading verses and playfully harmonizing. The set arced perfectly to a close with two more of the new songs—Prass sitting on the edge of the stage, legs crossed singing “Reprise” and then the show-closing “hit,” “Why Don’t You Believe in Me?” which found a night-making funkiness and left many attendance with that I-think-I’m-in-love feeling. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Natalie Prass Brings Acclaimed New Music to Rough Trade NYC

February 5th, 2015

Natalie Prass grew up around Virginia Beach with an affinity for music and art, which led to her attending the famed Berklee College of Music. But it didn’t exactly take, so she left Boston and ultimately settled in Nashville. Music City ended up being the perfect home for the singer-songwriter, who, while biding her time, had ample opportunities to work on her craft. She’s recently been out on the road backing Jenny Lewis, but even more currently, Prass (above, performing the catchy “Bird of Prey”) saw her long-awaited, acclaimed self-titled debut full-length (stream it below) arrive last week on Matthew E. White’s Spacebomb Records—although the album was actually finished in 2012. (Prass and White were childhood friends.) Despite the wait, critics have been absolutely knocked out. Pitchfork gave the LP its Best New Music label, and Paste magazine declared, “Over nine songs, Prass shows a range in songwriting, from anthems to confident R&B burners to whimsical prairie folk to theatrical grandeur. It is the debut of a songwriter not struggling to find a voice, but fully formed and confident as all hell. She makes knowing nods to Joni Mitchell, Lesley Gore, Diana Ross and Joanna Newsom, all while seeming natural and instinctual. She is the product of her influences and still original.” In a couple of weeks, she’s off to Europe, but you can still catch her tomorrow night at Rough Trade NYC. Lady Lady and Small Wonder open the show.

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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.

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Treetop Flyers Celebrate Album Release Tomorrow at Mercury Lounge

June 25th, 2013

Friends Reid Morrison (vocals and guitar), Sam Beer (guitar and vocals), Tomer Danan (drums and vocals), Laurie Sherman (guitar) and Matthew Starritt (bass and vocals) were playing in different London bands—although Danan is the lone American among them—when they teamed up to form the folkie, Americana-tinged Treetop Flyers in 2009. That they play cool, roots-y music should come as no surprise considering Morrison cites My Morning Jacket, Jonathan Wilson and Matthew E. White as influences. As a live band, Treetop Flyers (above, playing “Things Will Change” for FaceCulture) burst onto the scene by winning the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition in 2011, putting them on the venerable festival’s main stage and setting them up to open for bands like the Lumineers. As for their recorded material, they put out a few singles and an EP on Communion Records (co-owned by Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett) before switching over to Brooklyn’s Partisan Records for debut full-length, The Mountain Moves (stream it below), out today. Join in on the celebration when they celebrate its release tomorrow at Mercury Lounge.

 

 

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Matthew E. White Quietly Delivers

May 14th, 2013

Matthew E. White – The Bowery Ballroom – May 13, 2013


What is it that Teddy Roosevelt said? “Speak softly and carry a big stick”? Well, Matthew E. White sings softly and carries a big stick, namely his backing band. It’s hard to call a six-piece outfit a small band, but for Virginia Beach, Va., native White, who’s played and recorded with literally dozens of musicians at a time, the sextet he played with at The Bowery Ballroom last night was a decidedly slimmed-down affair. Still, when you’ve got a guy who’s equally up to playing some delicious countrified pedal steel as he is a rollicking piano, and a bass player who grooves like he backed Herbie Hancock in his Headhunters prime, in addition to the drummer, percussion and keys players locked into your sound, six is a big enough stick.

The group walked out to Stevie Wonder’s “Jesus Children of America” which, on Wonder’s birthday, seemed plenty deliberate for White, who matches soul with a Wonder-esque funkiness and whose music is accented by his personal faith. The set got moving with “One of These Days” and the ultragroovy “Steady Pace,” from last year’s Big Inner. These were prime examples of White’s style: soft, heartfelt vocals that melted into a steady buildup by the band, typically climbing to a surprising, ecstatic off-center climax. The band’s country-funk chops were on full display in a perfect cover of Neil Young’s “Are You Ready for the Country,” featuring the highlight pedal steel playing in a set filled with them. Although his vocals sounded great, White confessed it was a heavy dose of steroids that were keeping his sick throat up to the task and warned the side effects included extreme crankiness and irritability. Of course, he said this in his sweet, give-me-a-hug demeanor. It seemed perfect that White’s self-proclaimed “drinking song” was called “Hot Toddies” and featured a gorgeous, quiet minimalist section before a punchy finale. This is a groovy party band almost in spite of itself.

The heaviest hitter of the set was “Big Love,” a White masterpiece, mixing all the elements, in one high-energy heart-pumper, the band playing it loose, showing the clear comfort of musicians who know they’ll all get back to the same place, regardless of the different paths they take along the way. The set closed with a powerful one-two whack from the stick—“Gone Away” and “Brazos,” the latter a 10- minute mountain of a song that built upon a percolating bassline that appeared to lack a beginning or an end. It’s one of those songs that seems fit for a hundred musicians in a church in Virginia to do its climactic coda justice, but on a Monday night in NYC, White and his band were plenty big. —A. Stein

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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.

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A Crowd-Pleasing Night at The Bowery Ballroom

October 16th, 2012

The Mountain Goats/Matthew E. White – The Bowery Ballroom – October 15, 2012


It was an evening built to please as the Mountain Goats played The Bowery Ballroom last night in their third of four sold-out New York City appearances. But before John Darnielle and Co. took the stage, there was the matter of the opener, the crowd-pleasing Matthew E. White and his stage-filling band. Playing music from White’s excellent Big Inner (sounds like beginner), the collective of Richmond, Va., musicians included a full horn section, a percussionist, two keyboard players and a pedal steel. It was a more soulful version of a band Miles Davis might have put together in the early ’70s. “One of These Days” was exemplar of the set, starting with a kind of indie-rock love-song vibe then entering a head-bobbing center that had White and crew channeling Stevie Wonder before building to a gospel rave-up climax. “Big Love” highlighted the deeper funk, with some straight-from-the-butcher meaty bass hooks and cosmic harmonies. The set ended with an epic creeping version of “Brazos,” which had the band firing on all cylinders, and one reviewer wondering how the headliner could top one of the better opening sets he’d seen in a while.

Of course, pleasing the crowd was no problem for Darnielle, who had the full house enrapt before the first note. The Mountain Goats opened with “Love Love Love,” off 2005’s Sunset Tree—Darnielle’s voice a liquid, filling the container of The Bowery Ballroom completely. As the set weaved through back-catalog hits and a healthy dose of the group’s newest release, Transcendental Youth, the audience hung on each lyric. The words seemed to float above their heads like the dialogue in a graphic novel, with the crowd torn between quiet, loving admiration and enthusiastic loud sing-alongs. Requests were shouted out, and some, like “San Bernardino” were granted, while others were ignored. Throughout, Darnielle showed a penchant for taking unpleasant source material and giving it an upbeat musical sheen. He introduced songs about bitter divorce (“First Few Desperate Hours”), experimentation in satanic ritual (“In Memory of Satan”), waking up in a hospital room (“White Cedar”) or literally climbing out of the pits of hell. But with the constant churn of the Mountain Goats’ rhythm section, many of these were up-tempo and happy despite their dark undertones. The secret weapon was bassist Peter Hughes, who was like a waitress in a diner keeping Darnielle’s coffee cup filled with a steady stream of caffeinated licks.

Late in the set, Darnielle paired off in duos with bass and then drums, and he even played a few songs solo, including a Wye Oak cover and “Sax Rohmer #1,” which followed a long introduction that included apologies for any forgotten lyrics and a short political rant on the failure to defeat anti-gay-marriage legislation in his home state of North Carolina. Late in the set, the Mountain Goats invited Matthew E. White’s horn players out to join in and, ironically, bring the mood down to finally match the lyrics. But not for too long, as the set closed with “No Children,” from 2002’s Tallahassee, which featured the lyrics “I hope you die, I hope we both die” accompanied joyfully by the crowd singing as loud as they had all night. —A. Stein