Posts Tagged ‘Matthew E White’

Natalieprass

The album was written, the tour scheduled, the pieces all in place. It had been almost two years since Natalie Prass’ self-titled debut garnered rave reviews for its luscious, baroque-pop sounds. At the end of 2016, the singer-songwriter’s sophomore follow-up was almost ready to be released. Then the election happened.

“I had a record ready to go,” Prass says. “And I scrapped it.”

What followed was a trying time for the Richmond, Virginia, native, full of soul-searching, dark thoughts, and a protracted fight with her (now former) record label. But Prass was insistent. “I can’t release a neutral record right now,” she says. “I need to contribute to the conversation.” Her determination and focused songwriting has finally led her to her new album, The Future and the Past.

It’s been three-and-a-half years since Prass’ debut, and her newest effort has her returning in fighting form. She once again worked with producer Matthew E. White and the Spacebomb House Band, who are quietly earning a reputation as one of the best house bands around. Prass’ gorgeous orchestral strings are back, but with a smaller role this time around. Instead, she’s rummaged through the thrift shops of music history, dusting off artifacts of funk and soul, Brazilian tropicalia, indie folk, and bedazzled LA rock. The result is eclectic, fun, and thoroughly groovy — a polished statement of raw feeling.

“Oh My”:
At the time I was writing these songs in 2016 and 2017, right after the election, I was pretty raw and feeling so many emotions. The news was just pounding down on all of us. It was a lot to handle and feeling like my life was changing and the country was changing and the world was changing really quickly.

So, I would go to my little rehearsal space — I shared this shitty rehearsal space with metal dudes for a while. I would go there in the morning time when there were no metal people playing and lie on the floor and cry. Read, write, play piano for a little bit, and cry. I felt like it was my responsibility to try and put some positive energy into the world and talk about things that were very real. The only thing that was hard about it was convincing the label I was with at the time that it was a good idea, because they were not into it at all.

“Short Court Style”:
So, “Short Court” was already gonna be on the other record. For that one, I already wrote the music for a short film called Oh Jerome, No that was written by Teddy Blanks and Alex Karpovsky. They asked me to write the music for it, and I wrote maybe five or six tunes for that little short film. That was the opening track, the montage, without lyrics or anything. Then when the short film came out, people were hitting me up like, “Where do I get that song? I need that song.” So, I was thinking, “Oh, I should just write lyrics to this and make it an actual song I can put on my record.” Usually, the melody and chords come to me pretty effortlessly, and then I start building from there. Usually, when I co-write, I have people who help me fill in lyrics and help me put my thoughts together. Usually, the chords and the melody are what I feel most confident about.

“Interlude: Your Fire”:
It’s funny, I didn’t intend for that to be split up. Everybody was like, “”The Fire” should be a single, but we need to split up that intro and make it a separate track,” and I was like, “No!” But I get it. It was intended to be all one piece, but it’s kind of cool; a lot of my favorite records have interludes, so I was like, “Ok, ok, I’ll split it up.”

“The Fire”:
I wrote a version of that song in Nashville with my buddy Mikky Ekko. We wrote that a long time ago, and then I couldn’t remember how it went.  That song was on an old laptop that died. I’m really bad with technology, so when a computer dies I’m like, “Well, that’s it.” But that one…I went from memory, and kind of re-wrote the whole thing. I thought it was a good story of feeling in-between, of knowing you need to get out of something but feeling stuck at the same time. The whole…the future and the past… stuck in-between, very much in the present – knowing what has happened and what led you here – But what’s going to happen in the future?

“Hot for the Mountain”:
That one is a protest song, a political song for staying focused. You might feel like you’re the only one, but you’re not. “Hot for the Mountain”, like, it’s not gonna be an easy way, but just stay positive. It’s kind of like, “You’re not alone.” I feel really numb to a lot of stuff now. I’m just trying to focus on the big picture, doing what I know I can do, making sure I always vote — that is so important to me now. It’s like, “Oh, I’ll do it on the big election.” But now it’s like, “No, I am always going to stay up on it” and be involved in my local elections, especially. I knew it was important before, but now it’s a very high priority.

“Lost”:
That one goes with the Me Too movement. I really didn’t want that song to be on the record. I didn’t want to give the person it’s about any kind of ammo against me. The Me Too movement has been really hard on me, personally, because it’s really painful to remember things that have happened to you — but I’m so grateful for it at the same time. Now there’s all this language, there’s all this support, when you just felt like you were so alone … People were like, “You just have to deal with it and move on.” Which, yeah, you have to move on. You can’t live your life in pain like that. It’s nice to know there’s brave women out there and they’re telling their stories. I’m a pretty private person, but I think it’s important to have solidarity with people who have had experiences like myself.

“Sisters”:
Matt’s
the producer. He’s been my buddy for a very long time and is like a big brother to me, and he lives a 10-minute walk from my apartment. I went to his house almost every day during those couple months and spent a lot of time sitting in his kitchen drinking coffee. He had this drum machine, and he had this beat he made on his drum machine, and I was like, “Oh, that’s what I’m feeling right now. Let’s write to this beat.” It was a heavy-hitting kind of beat, and I wanted it to be kind of like a fight song for how I was feeling. I was feeling extremely hopeless at the time, feeling that people don’t want to listen to women, people don’t want women leaders, women cut each other down, men cut women down, there are so many deep stereotypes, and women are pitted against one another. Basically that entire song is A Minor. I was listening to a lot of gospel music when the election happened. I wanted to put some of that feeling into the new music I was writing.

“Never Too Late”:
The label I was with before I parted ways with them — after this record (laughs) — they were like, “How would you feel about going to LA and writing with some people?” I was like, “Sure, I’ll try it.” And that was the worst month of my life. These people… All right, they’re just trying to get by, like me, and they have to hustle way more than I do because I live in a very cheap city, and they live in LA. Of course, they want to write music that could potentially make money. But that’s not where my interests are. I was miserable. It made me feel like the one thing I know how to do very well I don’t know how to do. People were treating me like I didn’t know how to write music. We couldn’t agree on anything.

My publisher, who I’ve been working with since I was 23 years old, was like, “Hey, Nat, there’s this guy out there, Steve Lindsey, this old LA scene kind of guy. I feel like you might like him.” He’s this old LA session dude. Used to play with Toto back in the day. He knew exactly where I was coming from. It was this bright light in the middle of all the terrible. I was having fun, relaxing, like, yeah, “Let’s write this glitzy, shiny, Steely Dan kind of song.” Of course, I don’t relate to the people my age or the people younger than me. I relate to the people 70 and up. That’s so me. We wrote that song super fast. I had the melody already. For the chorus, either, “It’s too late,” or “It’s never too late.” They helped me tighten up the loose ends. But I had a pretty solid idea of what I wanted to do already.

“Ship Go Down”:
I really love psychedelic tropicalia music. Tropicalia music was a huge political movement, and I was taking inspiration from how they expressed their political views. Brazilian music has the most beautiful melodies, harmonies, and it’s groovy: it takes from jazz, pop, R&B, and american blues. The lyrics are really meaningful and thought-provoking and poetic, talking about politics in Brazil at the time.

No place is perfect, and I always thought America had a ton of problems. But I at least felt like we were moving in the right direction. I thought, “There’s no way people are going to vote for this…” I was so naive. I knew it was going to be close. Then the shock. Going out in Richmond — and Richmond is very progressive — but going out, thinking, “Who did they vote for? Who did they vote for?” Feeling like I don’t know where I live anymore. That’s definitely the darkest song on the record.

“Nothing to Say”:
I’ve had that one for a long time, and I’ve always wanted to record that one, and I thought the time is right now. There’s so many talking heads. That one was funny when we were recording it in the studio, because Matt was all, “I don’t know what to do with this song,” and I was like, “I got it, I got it, I got it! We’re going to record this marble bouncing off the floor, and then we’re going to have this bell sound!” And then Matt just basically cleaned up the huge mess I made.

“Far from You”:
That one’s written about Karen Carpenter. I’ve always loved her; I’ve always thought she was this beautiful soul. She’s very misunderstood, and people often only think about her in terms of how she died [from complications due to anorexia]. But there’s so much more than that. She was from a time when women didn’t play drums; women were up front and singing. She didn’t have a choice. Her label and everybody pushed her out from the kit. Once she got pushed out front, the body shaming started. It got to her head. She started to feel like she didn’t have any control over her career and what she was doing musically. The one thing she could control was her diet. Always in a competition with her family, who favored her brother. You can hear how kind she is and how much she just loves singing and gets a joy out of music. I wanted to write a tribute to her.

“Ain’t Nobody”:
That was straight up trying to bring joy into a harsh reality. You have to keep moving and stay energized. We weren’t intending it, originally, to be such an upbeat tune. We were thinking it would be a little more subdued, almost more of a piano, mid-tempo groove sort of thing. But once we got in the studio, I was like, “This isn’t what I need right now. We gotta pick this up.” It took a long time for us to figure out where that one was supposed to sit, but it got there. That’s what’s so fun about creating and putting a production together. If you have a pretty solid song you can mold it to be whatever you want it to be. I wanted to end on a high note.

The Future And The Past is bursting with a myriad of grooves and Natalie’s vocals float on top, light as a feather and tough as nails. Short Court Style dials the tempo into 90s R&B territory – punctuated by handclaps, sampled “woos,” and a Dr. Dre-esque whistling synth line. Lyrically she wields a sharp knife as well. The love torn Lost begins with: “Turn up the fader, its like a lightning bolt / we can’t be saved, so now I’m listening on my own / Once there was a time when you had me hypnotized / you realized that your finger prints were on my bones.” Funky feminist anthem Sisters is an empowering rallying cry: “I want to say it loud / for all the ones held down / we gotta change the plan.”

thanksconsequenceofsound.

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Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White cover Velvet Undeground’s “Sunday Morning”

The Velvet UndergrLook At What The Light Did Now”ound cover follows renditions of ” by Little Wings, ” Looking For You” by Nino Ferrer, and  “Grease” by the Bee Gees, and arrives ahead of their album – Gentlewoman, Ruby Man – next week.

Morrissey and White have also detailed a new live date at London’s Union Chapel on 13th February.

White and Morrissey both last released records in 2015 – the former dropped Fresh Blood, while the latter shot out “Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful”.

Tracklist:

  1. Look At What The Light Did Now (Little Wings cover)
  2. Thinking ‘Bout You (Frank Ocean cover)
  3. Looking For You (Nino Ferrer cover)
  4. Colour Of Anything (James Blake cover)
  5. Everybody Loves The Sunshine (Roy Ayers cover)
  6. Grease (Bee Gees cover)
  7. Suzanne (Leonard Cohen cover)
  8. Sunday Morning (Velvet Underground cover)
  9. Heaven Can Wait (Charlotte Gainsbourg cover)
  10. Govindam (George Harrison cover)

Gentlewoman, Ruby Man is released 13th January.

I am absolutely love everything that Matthew E. White touches. His two albums and his studio, Spacebomb, are forces to be reckoned with. I truly think that White is a visionary and one of the pioneers of this generation of music.
Needless to say, I was excited to hear that he was teaming up with British singer/songwriter Flo Morrissey for an eclectic album of covers. Here’s the list below and a couple of samples.
Gentlewoman, Ruby Man

Tracklist:
01. Look At What The Light Did (Little Wings cover)
02. Thinking ‘Bout You (Frank Ocean cover)
03. Looking For You (Nino Ferrer cover)
04. Colour of Anything (James Blake cover)
05. Everybody Loves the Sunshine (Roy Ayers cover)
06. Grease (Bee Gees cover)
07. Suzanne (Leonard Cohen cover)
08. Sunday Morning (Velvet Underground cover)
09. Heaven Can Wait (Charlotte Gainsbourg cover)
10. Govindam (George Harrison cover)

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When Matthew E White’s debut album, “Big Inner”, emerged unheralded in 2012, there was a sense of wonder that someone had emerged, seemingly fully musically formed, without anyone realising. But there was also a pleasing oddness about Big Inner: for all the obvious soul influences, the likes of Big Love and Brazos had a trancelike mood that was less Curtis Mayfield than Spiritualized. Its follow-up is a more straightforward affair, and – though still a delicious record – slightly less eye-opening. Memphis and Philly are the soul moods that dominate, and this time round White has added some singalong-ready choruses, notably on Feeling Good Is Good Enough: once someone starts rolling out the la-la-la-la-la codas, you suspect they’re picturing twilight festival crowds swaying in unison. There are depths, though: the emotional heart of the album, Tranquility, is a beautifully orchestrated meditation on the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, with a feedback guitar solo that resolves into a loping groove, as if death is the peace that follows turmoil.

Opening summer festival season in style, London’s most diverse festival festival,Field Day, returns to Victoria Park in East London this weekend.

One of this year’s headliners, Canadian electronic maverick Caribou, is sure to be bringing a blistering trademark audio-visual assault to match his sweet electro-tinged grooves. Another main act are reformed shoegaze legends Ride, who put Oxford on the guitar map when Radiohead were still just a twinkle in Thom Yorke‘s eye.

But headliners are just tip of the gigantic musical iceberg. As you might expect, there is a plethora of the hotly-tipped and devoutly followed indie acts around, from the kooky charm offensive of Liverpudlians Stealing Sheep to Django Django and Savages.

Both days also feature many of the acts GIITTV have been praising to the hilt of late. FKA Twigs‘ live show has seen her headline venues as illustrious as The Roundhouse, building on the critical and commercial success of her widely lauded (and minimally titled) debut album LP1. Imagine an unsettling blend of vocals reminiscent of Kate Bush and an exotic, sultry take on Massive Attack‘s slow motion breakbeat nightmares and you might start getting close to the enigma of FKA Twigs.

Ok, so we all know the Field Day line up is ridiculous and if you’re reading this it’s unlikely we need to instruct you to watch Caribou or Ride or Patti Smith because you obviously should. FKA Twigs, Hookworms, DIIV, Mac DeMarco, John Talbot,Savages, Matthew E. White and Run The Jewels are all amazing too. But we also wanted to share some of the less obvious picks you should make time for during the 6/7 June weekender in Victoria Park.

At the other end of the energy spectrum, US punks Ex-Hex should up the tempo with oodles of three-chord, three- minute garage rock pop charm executed with a don’t-give-a-shit snarl. Expect a sprint through some of the highlights of last year’s Rips LP, as the three piece set about making Green Day sound like one of Radiohead’s more pensive b-sides. The scratchy, wonderfully irritable sounds of Canada’s Viet Cong make for an altogether edgier experience. Or, if you’re in search of something a little more wry and humorous, the downbeat but uplifting sensibilities of Matthew E White might do the trick, combining an earthy folkiness and caustic lyrical wit with knowing nods to the sweet simplicity of original rock ‘n’ roll. As one his best known songs has it, ‘Rock and Roll Is Cold’; but his set will probably be one of the more heartwarming treats of Field Day.

There’s also a serious contingent of psyche to this year’s festival line up, for those looking to drift off to dimensions further flung than the portaloos and burrito stalls. Especially recommended by the GIITTV staff are Hookworms, whose trance-like guitar workouts boast echoes of Spacemen 3 or even veteran space rockers Hawkwind, with more than a dose of Krautrock minimalism. A trait they share with the equally lauded Telegram, whose Matt Wood actually spent 18 months working at Faust‘s HQ in Germany before forming the Anglo-Welsh outfit. And if that all sounds a bit fierce, then the more leisurely and serene sounds of Errors could be the remedy. A self-styled “post-electro” band from Glasgow, Scotland, they’re signed to Rock Action Records, the label founded and managed by the band Mogwai; and they clearly share a certain distinctive gliding sonic sparkle with their label bosses (as well as a love of referencing rave in their titles – ‘How Clean Is Your Acid House?’ being one). With a fresh album – their fifth – called Lease of Lifeemerging recently, the three piece will be showing why they’re one of the most celebrated new live acts around this weekend.

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Matthew E White has said of this song
A year ago today we lost Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I didn’t know Phillip, but I had watched everything he did for 15 years. To me, he was everything one could ever want to be in an artist,Very soon after his death it became crystal clear to me that I wanted to try very hard and write a song for him. He deserved something from me, something that honored him, and showed how grateful I was for all he had given. “His death was immensely sad and as deaths such as these go, leaves us crushed that a life so bright has been dimmed. There is a duality in these circumstances, it’s a place where we find darkness in the light, but more powerfully, we find light in the darkness. I tried to find music that felt the same. It’s my best shot, and it’s called Tranquility” To a man that showed me, over and over, what excellence and craft is, here is a song for you.

“Rock & Roll is Cold”, the first single from Matthew E. White’s forthcoming “Fresh Blooddue out 10th March on Domino Records , is vibrant and playful. Taking inspiration from legends like Randy Newman, the Richmond, Virginia native manages to be reverent but not beholden to his retro influences. The song’s a meta-commentary on music, with lines like, “Rock ’n’ roll? It don’t have soul” and “Everyone likes to talk shit,” which music writers everywhere will probably think is about them. As he proved on 2012’s album the excellent “Big Inner“, White and his Spacebomb Records crew have a knack for producing orchestral ‘70s-inflected arrangements and making them feel wholly relevant and delectable.

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Swoonsome, soul-tinted singer-songwriter offering from Natalie Prass on Spacebomb Records, collaborating with the label’s Matthew E. White. Think Muscle Shoals reborn for the 21st Century – not to be missed!,“My Baby Don’t Understand Me” is the opening track on Natalie Prass’ self-titled album, and what an opening it is. Prass, a member of Jenny Lewis’ backing band, recorded the album at Matthew E. White’s Spacebomb studio in Richmond, and the crew of musicians they rallied rounded out her deeply vulnerable, Joni Mitchell-esque folk-pop with orchestral grandeur. Jenny Lewis, who is Prass’ boss right now, just made a really great major-label singer-songwriter album, but it’s not anywhere near this rich. We’re just not used to hearing music that sounds like Natalie Prass anymore. It feels like a luxuriant shock to the system,

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