Howard Ivans, One Year Later
Exactly one year ago, Spacebomb released a special piece of music by a man re-introduced to the world as Howard Ivans. This alter ego for The Rosebuds singer Ivan Howard created – alongside the Spacebomb machine – two powerful, stunning, and sexy tracks that we pressed to wax as a 7-inch and dubbed SB003. Critics would call the two tracks – “Red Face Boy” backed with “Pillows” – “magnificent” (SPIN), “impressive” (UNCUT), “wonderful” (DJ Magazine), and “blue-eyed croon that would impress Hall & Oates” (Wondering Sound). They went on and on, raving about its sunny Bacharach orchestration, its pulsating rhythm section and jetting horns, its “full-on funk” and “sexy string-laden soul” (Brooklyn Vegan). And today, we’re celebrating this music with a special discount in our store.
For a very limited time, pick up a Howard Ivans 7″ for only $5 plus shipping. Each copy has been hand-stamped and hand-numbered at Spacebomb HQ in Richmond, Virginia. While you’re adding it to your cart, be sure to stock up on our other releases by Matthew E. White and Grandma Sparrow, and pre-order the forthcoming debut LP by Natalie Prass.
photo credit: Ryan Patterson
Announcing ‘Natalie Prass’ – Out January 2015
Today, we are proud to share the vision of Natalie Prass (SB006), one of those records that appears fully-formed and alive–a rare, bird of beauty. Natalie Prass, the sly Nashville songbird, collaborated with our crack team of arrangers and in-house musicians to spin the lush history of pop into a glowing new tapestry. The whole affair is wrapped around her tender voice, sailing high, sweeping low, flying, sighing–heart-melting and vulnerable one minute, fiery and muscular the next. Natalie Prass spins on pure central Virginia time, the true energy of a community captured and released in its vibrant, effortless sound–an unassuming, soul-pop classic.
Natalie Prass will be released worldwide on January 26 & 27, 2015, and is now available for pre-order (LP/CD). We’ve previously shared Prass’s pop stunner “Bird of Prey,” and today, you can hear “Why Don’t You Believe In Me” for the first time:
About Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass (SB006)
Stroll up to that jewelry store shimmering on a hot Virginia night, under the neon “Spacebomb” sign and take a look at the latest gem–glowing, sparkling, radiant with light. Natalie Prass is the sound of an artist and community working together, replete with lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry, soaked with the same sweet perspiration and small-town spirit that ran through Memphis, New Orleans and Muscle Shoals. It is both an utterly timeless and perfectly timed affair. Using the experience from producing Matthew E. White’s Big Inner, Spacebomb joined forces with a true kindred spirit–Nashville singer and songwriter Natalie Prass–to travel deeper into its universe of sound. The sheer quality of her voice and songs gave collaborators the freedom to push their craft to the limit: Trey Pollard’s gorgeous, technicolor strings rising from the coastal plain; White’s muscular R&B horn signatures driving and complicating the dance; everything locked down to the rhythm section of Cameron Ralston and Pinson Chanselle riding a supernatural groove. Natalie Prass is a thoughtful collection of music, nourished by reverence for past eras of big band and jazz and infused with the crisp detail of late 70s & early 80s R&B, a diamond for everyone, a sophisticated soul-pop triumph.
“Bird of Prey” kicks it off with that silky and propulsive beat. Prass delivers the goods, balancing an infectious hook and calmly observed feelings as flutes dive and weave between muted horns, a rolling tack piano courtesy of Daniel Clarke (k.d. lang, Ryan Adams) underpinning the beat. This track makes a confident assertion that southern soul is not gone or lost, or confined to retro gestures. Funky horns, gutsy guitar lines and murmuring flutes in “Why Don’t You Believe In Me” connect with the song’s wry internal monologue, sine wave needles of feedback penetrating the mix in counterpoint to an overall controlled elegance. “Violently” riffs off expectations for gentle ballads with its raw take on the intensity of desire. Vocally inspired by Diana Ross, conveying both softness and strength–a litheness and brightness, Prass has the ability to express the full spectrum of emotion and drift further into shades unknown. During “My Baby Don’t Understand Me,” she sings of the world crumbling while horns sashay into fanfare, the arrangement getting impossibly big but never losing the groove, staying balanced, dropping down to a piano lick, then returning with force–with power. As a songwriter, Prass has that rare ability to compose in her own distinct voice and still sound immediately classic.
The graceful “It Is You” closes out the album in style, the spirit of Harry Nilsson strolling in a sentimental mood through colorful fields of sound. Pollard distills his strings to their highest proof: intoxicating, sweet and lush, then fading down to a perfect sigh of dissonance. Natalie Prass consistently achieves those moments of “shared recognition,” when certain elements, a nuance of arrangement or the emotional weight of a lyric, unite to create astonishing richness and depth. This artist and this record reach Spacebomb’s vision of intensely personal, well-crafted regional music, a new music that has global reach and appeal. It wouldn’t sound the same coming from anywhere else, New York, Chicago, L.A. or even Philly; the pace is unique–pure central Virginia time, bound up in the tight harmony of community, its energy captured and released in the vibrant, effortless sound of Natalie Prass.
Natalie Prass (SB006) will be released on January 26 & 27 2015, on Spacebomb Records & Caroline International (CD/LP/Digital)
Song Premiere: Natalie Prass – “Bird of Prey”
Spacebomb is proud to introduce our newest artist, Natalie Prass, that specialist in all styles direct from Nashville, Tennessee, with a pure, radiant voice and those sly, romantic songs. Old friends from the Virginia coast, Prass sat down with Matthew E. White to choose nine tracks for Spacebomb’s sleek and lively creative machine. With intuition, hard work and the alchemy of time and place, they crafted an unassuming masterpiece–a real stunner that sounds both thoroughly out-of-time and impossibly fresh. Prass is a powerful, beguiling performer and cunning pop composer–we’re trying to play it cool, but this record and singer have gotten us good. It’s the kind of project that fulfills the unique collaborative vision of Spacebomb: a genuine moment where an artist discovers her voice together with this special community. Regional music, soul music, pop music becoming much more than the sum of its parts. Natalie Prass is that rare thing–a songwriter’s songwriter and a performer’s performer–blessed with universal appeal and endless charm. She can sing in your home tonight.
Bird of Prey b/w Any Time, Any Place (SB005)
Pop is not a thing to be feared. The first Spacebomb single from Natalie Prass, “Bird of Prey” – which premiered today on the A.V. Club – hits fierce and fast, moving with a silky, yet propulsive beat. Our calm narrator, resigned to the dark fate of love, moves along with a confident lyrical pace, as flutes dive and weave through stabs of muted horn and an underpinning of easy rolling tack piano. It’s difficult to pinpoint any specific time or place; the music simply exists in a protean mist of swirling strings. Prass wraps her glowing voice around the hook and delivers a knock-out jewel of a song, addictive, deep-cut and flat-out timeless. This track and the forthcoming full-length record represent a high point of Spacebomb’s collaborative vision: the give-and-take of passionate musical conversation, seamless connection between artist, arrangers and players, honoring the history and putting time into the process to reach a classic new sound.
On the B side, available on iTunes, Natalie pays respect to Janet (and Kendrick) with a pitch-perfect take on Any Time, Any Place, the get-it-on-now-immediately-and-in-public modern R&B classic. An assured, joyful, undeniably sexy cover, this Trey Pollard production is a little more wow and flutter than the shimmer and click of Jam & Lewis, but Spacebomb’s house band keeps the smooth energy of the original, cutting it with the casual pleasure of a late night session. Miss Prass gives Miss Jackson’s canonical vocals her own sweet agenda–nuanced tension and detailed urgency–all elements vibrating together at the sultry speed of Spacebomb.*
*Please note: When in the company of a significant other or beautiful stranger, Spacebomb respectfully suggests listening to this track inside a bedroom or hotel room.
Natalie Prass – Bird of Prey (Single)
Download on iTunes
Watch: Grandma Sparrow – “The Pigsmilk Candycane”
It’s the pigsmilk candycane, the hurdy gurdy understain, the marmaladed pony’s mane, dilapidated monkey brain, possums full of puzzle tears, and crows that grow dakota beards. It’s time to eat your food!
Grandma Sparrow‘s new video for “The Pigsmilk Candycane” premiered today on Tiny Mix Tapes. The stop-motion video was created by Carson Efird and Joe Westerlund and helps the listener learn the recipe for the titular treat. Watch the video below:
Grandma Sparrow featured in Indy Week
Grandma Sparrow is featured in the latest issue of Indy Week. Surrounding his shows at the Pinhook in Durham, NC, Joe Westerlund tells all about the inspiration for his Grandma Sparrow character and his lifelong development of the record’s story. The feature interview talks about the magic that happens when Westerlund dons his costume and takes his place at the front of the stage, the impeccable backing band Canine Heart Sounds behind him.
“Grandma Sparrow is an attempt to rediscover childlike wonder by going somewhere you’ve never been, somewhere that doesn’t even exist.”
Read the article on Indy Week and watch a video of “Existential Mothersnakes” performed live below.