Bands to Watch #262: Matthew E. White

By on Wednesday, 6th February 2013 at 12:00 pm

Seemingly out of nowhere, a bespectacled and impressively-bearded man from Richmond, Virginia, named Matthew E. White has released a rather fine album by the name of ‘Big Inner’. Despite many end-of-year accolades for the work, it has only just been released worldwide on Domino Records, previously having been only available by special import from the USA on the Hometapes/Spacebomb imprint. Thus Mr. White is currently a name unfamiliar to all but the most ardent fans of the American underground scene – though perhaps for not much longer.

The triumph is, of course, that ‘Big Inner’ is thoroughly deserving of wider release. In its seven songs, there’s a superficial sheen of big-band psychedelia, a heartbeat of pure Motown soul, overlaid with White’s zen-like chestnut vocal. Band duties are discharged by Spacebomb, a 35-strong collective of musicians curated by White himself; a house band for the new millenium, for whose talents the songs were specifically written and arranged. This symbiotic relationship has yielded a piece of work which would not be out of place in the oeuvre of many a grizzled practitioner of contemporary Americana.

Whilst comparisons may appear churlish and superficial, for the purposes of description some must be drawn. Prior to their current lengthy miserablist period, Lambchop were making these kind of uplifting, soulful, downtempo yarns, run through with a streak of melancholia. In the thudding drums of ‘Steady Pace’, beautifully-faceted brass and vocal arrangements and dual-tracked lead voice lives the ghost of 10CC. And more recent psychedelic big bands like The Polyphonic Spree and even Spiritualized are in good company here.

The collection climaxes with the 10-minute masterpiece ‘Brazos’ (listen below). From opening brass fanfare, via an enormous massed chorus and all manner of percussive and vocal ephemera, the song builds to a religious fervour worthy of the most enthusiastic Southern Baptist Easter Sunday service – shouts of “Hallelujah!” and fainting in the aisles wouldn’t be out of place. Ladies and gentlemen, follow a star to the East Coast, where a bearded man is here to preach the sin from your tortured souls. The future is all White.


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2 Responses

12:14 pm
6th February 2013

RT @tgtf: just less than 2 hours now before we post the internet’s first review from @dutchuncles current tour, Newcastle @TheCluny show …

[…] introduced us to Matthew E. White back in February, and now the American is gearing up to release his next […]

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