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Murfie Staff Picks: August 2015 Edition

August is right around the corner. Are you listening to something new, or recycling some favorite albums from long ago? Our staff is doing a mix of both, and we have some music picks you should hear. For more staff picks, check out our Staff Picks Cool Collection, which we update often!

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Aja
Steely Dan
1977

“A genre-busing masterpiece.”
—Andrew

80280-largeDying to Say This to You
The Sounds
2006

“New Wave inspired Swedish band with a lead singer who sets a new bar for ‘bad ass’ with her stage presence.” —Steve

377178-largeNikki-Nack
tUnE-yArDs
2014

“Merrill Garbus is the master of weirdly-catchy & just-plain-weird pop songs, and Nikki Nack is her best work yet.” —John

418070-largeWormfood
Jamaican Queens
2013

“I recently saw these guys live at the Frequency and they were awesome. They are a unique electronic, pop/rock band from MI and they kill it!” —Nate

82739-largeOne Time for All Time
65daysofstatic
2005

“One Time for All Time is full of top-notch math rock instrumentals and unique beats, check out all of 65daysofstatic!” —Kael

51527-largeMarcus Garvey
Burning Spear
1975

“Powerful. A must-have in your roots reggae collection.” —Kayla

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Interview with Red Wanting Blue [Podcast]

Red Wanting Blue is a rock n’ roll band from Columbus, Ohio. They’ve been making waves since 1996 with a steady output of albums and tours. Their frontman Scott Terry called in to the Murfie office recently to chat about the band’s experiences, including signing with a record label, and avoiding a near-fatal car crash that inspired their new album. We cover topics in the music industry of course, like transparency in the streaming business, and the paradox of choice that comes with infinite access. Scott is definitely a fan of music ownership and collecting physical music, and in fact, he points out how physical music can be an extension of your personality. He also embraces the amazing influence computers can have in creating music and reaching fans.

Here’s a transcript of our interview, along with the Soundcloud link below for your listening pleasure.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Who: Scott Terry; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
When: Tuesday July 7th, 2015
How: via phone

K: I’ve got Scott Terry on the phone from the band Red Wanting Blue. And Scott, you just started your tour called the Our Little America Tour, how’s that going so far?

S: It’s going great, it’s going great. Actually right now we are in Columbus, Ohio, and we’re just now getting ready to make a trip up to Edmonton Alberta Canada. So we’ve got kind of a long way to go and a short time to get there.

K: Well this definitely isn’t the first time you’ve gone on a tour, and it’s going through the end of August, so I was wondering if you have any tips for going on tour, for a musician who hasn’t gone before. What do you do to get through?

S: You know what, it’s funny you say that because I have literally thought of writing a book, or like a short guide, for survival tips when you’re on the road with a rock n’ roll band. I don’t want to give away too much of my book. But I would say, if I had to give some tips to some young bands: try to avoid gas station restrooms. Usually there is a hotel off that same exit. They’re in the hospitality business, so they’re not gonna question you if you’re a guest at the hotel. You can just walk in and go straight to the lobby. That’s a Scott Terry survival tip, although we haven’t had to use that one in a little while. We’re fortunate, we’ve got a bathroom on our bus now. More important tips on the road would be: try to stay active. One of the things that we do is we try to avoid fast food, because I think it makes you feel bad. Even if it tastes good going down, you usually regret it a little bit later. Or a lot, depending. We also try to stay fit while we’re on the road. You’ve got a lot of downtime sometimes between load-in and sound check, and performing. So we’ll try to go for jogs and keep ourselves in shape, and so that’s a good thing to do. Again, I don’t want to dig too much into my stash of secrets.

K: We’ll have to keep a lookout for that book. You need to have your own hashtag, #ScottTerryTourTips. Well those are definitely helpful, staying active and eating right.

S: Yeah and it sounds lame to say it like that, but the truth is that—I don’t want to sound preachy—but we run across bands who live up to the illusion and the idea that a band that’s traveling, you know—rock n’ roll band, partying every night. At this point in my career, I think that’s a difficult thing to sustain, it’s hard to maintain that lifestyle and live like that. It’s good to cut loose every now and then, but I think ultimately, you’re going to be going from town to down, driving from cold weather conditions to hot weather conditions. You’re putting your body through a lot of sleepless nights and the schedule can be rigorous and brutal, and the best thing you can be doing for yourself in order to make it through the shows so that you’re not apologizing to your fans like “Sorry I have a sore throat, sorry I got sick,” is to—because the road will run you down, I mean it is longer than you, it will definitely run you down if you open yourself up to that—so the thing you have to try to keep in mind, is: pace yourself, and always try to stay on top of your health. That’s my fatherly tip to the young bands out there.

Red Wanting blue Little AmericaK: Right, coming from experience. I mean that’s great to hear. and you guys have experience touring, you have experience putting out a lot of albums, so I was wondering if you look back at everything you’ve done so far—I  know you have a new album out, but—considering everything, is there a certain album you’ve put out that you personally feel most connected to?

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Album Review: “Magnifique” by Ratatat

Ratatat Magnifique

Magnifique
Released: July 17th, 2015
Reviewed by Erik Wermuth
Rating: 4/5

Brief disclaimer: ever since I first heard their self-titled album in 2007, Ratatat have been my favorite band, bar none. At that point I had heard electronic acts with something approaching Evan Mast and Mike Stroud’s ear for subtle build-up and original melodies, but never combined with the excitement that live instrumentation brings. Guitar and bass took the place of vocals and removed any distraction from the New York pair’s contribution to rock and electronic. More so than any review I could write, this one is from the perspective of a fanboy. I’ve done my best to temper my natural inclination to think that they can do no wrong, but nobody’s perfect (despite my instinct that, musically at least, these two are about as close as it gets).

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that back in 2011 when Ratatat announced they were beginning work on their fifth studio album, I was more than excited. News of an upcoming release would have been enough to send me skipping back and forth down my hallway with childish glee (not really), but every website announcing the album, tentatively referred to as LP5 after their last two albums LP3 and LP4, also included another nugget: the duo had secluded themselves in a beach house studio on Long Island to write and record.

With their unkempt hair, lack of vocals, and generally secretive attitude, they had always presented themselves as something like basement guitar gurus: cloistered monks of the electronic world. The news that they were holing up in a personal studio to work their obscure magic fit so perfectly with this narrative that I was utterly enthralled by imagining the process. As year after year passed and no further updates were forthcoming, the mystery only became more compelling. When at a certain point the wait for LP5 became something of a joke, like the endless wait for a new Duke Nukem and the internet even started to doubt its existence, I could only wait and picture a wide shot of the studio at night, with strange lights flashing through the windows and the cracks in the doors like a mystic laboratory.

When the news finally dropped that the album was coming, along with a name, its first single and the beginnings of a tour schedule, I went skipping back and forth down my hallway with childish glee (really). With such a huge 4 year buildup, nothing short of excellence would have sufficed and, for the most part, Magnifique delivers on that promise. The whole album bursts with the same energy that Ratatat have been bringing since 2004, and I absolutely can’t wait to see them live again with this album in the rotation.

Because of their flowing, instrumental style, I find that Ratatat is best listened to in terms of albums rather than individual songs, so I won’t give my usual track-by-track analysis. In Magnifique, Stroud and Mast confirmed their status as the modern American answers to Johann Sebastian Bach by perfecting a similar mathematical, theme-building style. In terms of their previous work, Magnifique sounds the most like their more standard first two albums Ratatat and Classics. However, some of the more involved production (particularly in the places where the album speeds up) evokes their more experimental LP3 and much of the slide-guitar work (particularly in the places where the album slows down) feels very much like the equally experimental LP4.

Most of all, Magnifique seems to be a combination of the lessons Stroud and Mast learned in making LP3/LP4 (the majority of which were recorded in the same studio session) and their more ‘standard’ sound present in Ratatat and Classics. To some, this kind of musical consolidation is the signal of a weaker effort, but this album feels more like a new apex and a necessary step than a simple rehashing of old ideas. The question of whether or not the duo have run out of creative juice after this effort is still up in the air, but considering the scope of Evan Mast’s many side projects (the sweet, downtempo e*vax and the exotic Abuela for instance), I find it hard to believe that’s possible. Nothing would make me happier than an experimental series LP6/LP7 followed by another consolidation of creative effort. We can only hope it takes less of a decade this time around.

In the end, if you’ve listened to Ratatat previously, Magnifique is only going to solidify your opinion of them, whatever that may be. If you’re new to the pair, the all-encompassing Magnifique just might be the perfect place to start. As a past, present, and future fan I give it a satisfied 4/5.

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DuckDuckGo: Because Your Privacy Matters on the Web

We recently stumbled across a search engine called DuckDuckGo. It’s a bit different than other search engines for one big reason: it doesn’t track you. Other search engines, including Google, pay close attention to the things you’re searching for and the places you go.

“I have nothing to hide”—you might be thinking. It’s not about having nothing to hide. It’s about privacy. That’s our freedom.

You can use “Bangs“ on DuckDuckGo to search terms directly within another website. They are stylized as an exclamation mark followed by the name of the website you want to search, followed by the keyword. Example: !zappos sandals.

And guess what, we made a Murfie Bang! So now you can search for Katy Perry albums without judgement (e.g. !Murfie Katy Perry).

Ready to try DuckDuckGo? Head over to their website and try out the search engine that doesn’t track you!

HeavyMetalJckt

Metal Starter Pack

A recent study indicates what Metal fans have known all along: Listening to Metal makes you grow up to be awesome (you can read the details for yourself here: The Metalhead Kids Are All Right).

That being the case, here’s Murfie’s Metal Starter Pack to get you on the road to a happy and successful life (don’t worry if you’re getting started late, most of these musicians are likely older than your parents).

123048-largeBlack SabbathBlack Sabbath

Arguably where it all began, this album is essential classical listening for all headbangers.

AC/DCBack in Black

Black, the staple ingredient of any quality metal band.  AC/DC defined a generation of rock-leaning metal musicians and Back in Black captures their unique ability to be simultaneously condemned by the moral majority and still receive play at wedding receptions.

Iron MaidenNumber of the Beast

Where would the world of metal be without disturbing album art?  Probably on more record store shelves, but that’s not what matters to Eddie and company.

123530-largeMotorheadAce of Spades

Don’t bother reading the lyric sheet, just pound your fist on the dashboard and press the accelerator into the floorboards.

Mercyful FateMelissa/The Beginning (Disc 1 and Disc 2)

Mystical traditions often appear in the the lyrics of metal music.  Mercyful Fate, headed by King Diamond, took this atmosphere to the stage.

MetallicaKill ’em All

What more can you say, “metal” is their first name!  Kill ’em All marks the beginning of a new generation of shredders lifting metal out of its rock roots and elevating it into a new form.

37087-largeMegadethRust in Peace

A counterpoint to Metallica (although the two cross stylistic paths over time, and share an origin story), Rust in Peace shows that metal can be intellectual as well as completely bad-ass.

SlayerSeasons in the Abyss

Taking metal into the darkest recesses of the human experience (at least before 1990), Slayer takes metal to an all new low (which is a good thing).  See “Dead Skin Mask” for a nod to a historical Wisconsinite…

AnthraxSpreading the Disease

Inoculating metal traditions with a stiff shot of Thrash (and the occasional thoughtful reflection), Spreading the Disease keeps it metal while opening doors to future crossover acts and points to the then future (now past) of metal music.

By 1990, metal had fragmented into a wide assortment of hybrid genres which I encourage you to explore once you’ve studied the essentials.  When you’re ready to graduate to the next level, rescue a 1980’s Camaro from it’s cinder-block perch, install a pair of Craig speakers in the rear deck and pick up one of those cassette-deck adapters for your phone…


Jason Gullickson
@jasonatmurfie

Jason makes sure all the electrons flow in the right direction at Murfie. His dream job is to automate himself out of his dream job, then hire his automaton to execute the “master plan.” He enjoys 20% of all musical styles and 35% of metal, punk, electronic and classical.