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Music for Spring

You can tell that spring is in the air—especially in Madison! It’s nice to wake up on a legitimately sunny day to the sound of birds chirping and —er—busses going down your street.

Spring is about all kinds of things: growth, new life, moving on, taking vacations, deep-cleaning your room, and throwing out the ol’ stack of pizza boxes. For us music lovers at Murfie, we’ve got a few album recommendations that are the soundtracks to our spring activities!


Stray Cats - Rock This Town

The Best of the Stray Cats: Rock this Town (Stray Cats)
“I have no idea why I associate this album with spring, but whenever I listen to it I recall the cool breeze of fresh air through long-closed bedroom windows and the faint smell of lilac in the air.  Maybe it’s because spring heralds the return of summer driving and there’s a lot of songs on this album about cars. My personal favorite from this album is ‘Rumble in Brighton’, which was my gateway drug into experimenting with rockabilly guitar.” – Jason

303145-largeActor-Caster (Generationals)
Actor-Caster is chock full of carefree pop songs whose jangly guitars and mellow basslines perfectly coddle the apathy that overcomes me when higher temperatures transform the indoors from the warm haven that protected me from snow to the cruel prison denying me the long-forgotten wonders of sunshine and fresh air. The first time I heard this band was at a concert a few years ago in early April, and ever since they’ve been my go-to artist for bringing in the summertime.” – Andrew

End on End - Rotes of Spring

End on End (Rites of Spring)
Emo was invented awaiting the last of the April showers and arrival of the DC cherry blossoms.”
Jeff

 

After Hours With Miss D

After Hours With Miss D (Dinah Washington)
I usually prefer Billie Holiday, but she can be a bit heavy in the lightness of spring. For spring, I prefer someone lighter like Dinah Washington. Dinah makes me wish I had a big convertible and could drive through winding roads with the top down, sun shining and birds singing. ” – Tiffany

Brian Eno - Music for Airports

Ambient 1: Music for Airports (Brian Eno)
“Throw on Ambient 1, and relax in the fresh grass (once it thaws…). Optional: A nice glass of iced tea.”
- John

 

28221-largeA Northern Soul (The Verve)
“I can’t rightly say why, but I find myself listening The Verve’s A Northern Soul with increased frequency these past few weeks. Likely, it’s the don’t-give-a-frak abandon of Nick McCabe’s guitar. Yeah, there’s the necessary pastoral work in there, too, but that’s not why you listen to The Verve. You listen to get clobbered. Perfect for crashing bikes and breaking bones which, if history is any testament, are apparently two of my favorite things to do come spring.” - Marc

Songs from the Wood

Songs from the Wood (Jethro Tull)
Definitely a great earth centered folk album! Good for listening to when sitting outside. “
- Daniella

 

29067-largeVivaldi: Four Seasons (Raymond Leppard & English Chamber Orchestra)
“The first track is called “Spring”. Seriously who writes these questions?”
– Steve

 

24233-largeChutes too Narrow (The Shins)
“The earnest energy of this album is perfect for bopping around your apartment as you get all of your cleaning and spring projects done, and so wonderfully melodic that it’s hard to resist singing along :)”
- Leah

 

27004-large

Crosby, Stills & Nash (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
I find a little CSN helps when preparing the yard during spring.”
- Pete

 

 

105339-largeCourage to Grow (Rebelution)
Overall, Courage to Grow has really great themes: The lyrics suggest we change our social habits to be more conscious and respectful. Plus, the cool vibes from songs like ‘Feeling Alright’ make me look forward to a (hopefully) relaxing summer just around the corner. I strongly recommend this one—and it’s fun to listen to when I clean my room!”
- Kayla

Tell us, what music is the soundtrack to your spring?

Cloud streaming FLAC – Possible, Practical, Awesome

Our friends at @Bliss_audio retweeted this post from @audiophilestyleCloud Storage & High Resolution Streaming – Possible? Practical? Pricey?  It’s a very thorough write-up on streaming your personal music from a cloud storage service, and you totally should go read it right now if you’re serious about high-quality audio (as you can imagine, we’ve done a lot of that math ourselves :)

We reached the same conclusions as well, that streaming lossless music from the cloud is not only possible, but it is also practical and awesome!

When Murfie first offered a streaming music service we insisted on using 320k MP3 as our lowest-quality format.  Most of the experts thought this was unnecessary at the time and most other streaming services used much lower quality.  We disagreed, did our homework and found that we could reliably stream 320k to all the devices we support.  We felt that our members, who were used to downloading high-quality formats (including lossless FLAC) from high-quality sources wouldn’t be satisfied with the low-quality bitrates offered elsewhere.  So we made the investment and the technology to deliver a higher-quality stream regardless of what everyone else was doing.

Not long after our original streaming service went live we were already looking for a way to provide something better.  After more R&D we successfully demonstrated lossless streaming of FLAC over the Internet in our labs, and began to figure out how we could offer this as a premium service to our members who demand the highest quality available from their CD’s with the convenience of streaming from the Internet.  One of the biggest challenges to this project was finding playback devices that could handle streams of this quality but over time these became available, and we released our first lossless streaming service on the Voco music device.

Since that time we’ve been adding more devices to the list of players that can handle our lossless streaming service (we call it “HiFi“), and of course clever hackers can always use our public API to access the service using their own home-grown solutions.

It was very exciting to run across @audiophilestyle’s post this morning and know that there are other music fans out there who care this much about the convenience of streaming without compromising the quality of their recordings.  Paired with the large amount of lossless recordings available in the Murfie Marketplace, we think our lossless streaming service is pretty awesome, but that doesn’t mean we’re not already working on making it awesome-er :)

 

Sounds Like Texas: The Best of the Lone Star State

We know everything is bigger in Texas, but is the music better? This week, check out reviews of three albums by The Lone Star State’s greatest!

PearlJanis Joplin
Pearl

Listening to Pearl feels a bit heavy, and there’s certainly reason for that: Janis Joplin’s last, the album was recorded near the very end of her life. After succumbing to an overdose at 27, she would never live to see it finished and released. Her tragic ending was a symbol of how she lived: erratically, but remarkably—an incredible voice and presence that belonged to a very troubled woman. Pearl is both a testament to her incredible talent and a hint of what could have been.

One of the album’s greatest strengths is Full Tilt Boogie, the backup band that’s with her through every track. Together with Janis’ big voice, they create a sound that lets her rock, but keeps her refined and smooth. She doesn’t overpower them, nor they her—it’s a harmonious combination. On tracks like “Cry Baby”, Janis is her full, belt-y self, brought down to earth with Full Tilt Boogie’s influence.

This album has an organization to it that other Joplin records lack, and it’s a refreshing and new take on her music. Previous albums like Cheap Thrills have essentially lacked structure; while letting Joplin’s trademark rawness show is great, the extra guidance in these songs lets her shine in a different way. Her intensity is kept in check just enough to let the songs fully develop, but not so much that she never has her big moment. This album has taken an already incredible talent and refined it into something that much more listenable.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Cry Baby”, “Mercedes Benz”

 

370176-largeLos Lonely Boys
Los Lonely Boys

Los Lonely Boys are certainly true to their Texas roots—they call their musical style “Texas Rock n’ Roll”, a fusion of rock, soul, country, blues and Tejano. A group of three brothers, the band is forging those influences into a brand-new and extremely inspired sound. To cement their status as a true Texan band, the group recorded this album at Willie Nelson’s Pedernales recording studio.

At the heart of this album is their incredible music talent and creativity. Rather than making the album hard to follow, the group’s numerous musical influences instead work their way into a track list that is incredible varied and creative, yet cohesive. That variety turns out to be their greatest strength on Los Lonely Boys: “Crazy Dreams” is a masterpiece of guitar riffs, while “Dime Mi Amor” shifts effortlessly into a Latin-rock structure that echoes Carlos Santana.

Variety isn’t these brothers’ only talent, however: this album shines on instrumentals, vocals and songwriting. Rather than sticking to their Texas roots, their talent elevates them to what feels like a new genre: their songs are crafted with incredible nuance; they find a place in both your heart and your mind. Whether it becomes the soundtrack to your summer party or a quiet at-home listening session, this album deserves a place in any music collection.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Crazy Dreams”, “Senorita”

 

67224-largeGeorge Strait
Troubadour

It’s impossible to write a compilation of Texas music without at least one country album, and there is no country star more worthy of such a spot than the King of Country: George Strait. Texan-born, George Strait has released dozens of albums and had dozens of No. 1 hits. Twang is a testament to his signature sound and the solidifying of his status as country’s music supreme ruler.

A true Texas star, Strait’s collection not only contains nary a bad album, but manages to stay true to his Texas sound. After releasing so many albums, Strait still manages to find a new sound on Troubadour. The album finds him looking introspectively, creating a soft, mellow sound that is calm and soothing without ever slipping into melodramatic or depressing. On this album, he certainly sounds like a Troubadour—a singer who has had a long and varied career, but always manages to emerge that much better.

It would be easy to mistake Troubadour’s 12 songs for simple tracks, but his sound and songwriting prove otherwise. He’s enlisted a lot of outside songwriting help here, including Buddy Cannon and Monty Holmes, but the songs weave together into a calming, cohesive collection. Despite the number of people involved, the album keeps its attitude going all the way through: it’s a subdued, intimate album that sounds like the soundtrack to events you’ll want to remember. Strait stays true to his Texas roots for a reason: why mix it up when you do it so well?

Don’t Miss Tracks: “River of Love”, “It Was Me”

 

[Album Review] Caroline Smith: Half About Being a Woman

Half About Being a Woman
Caroline Smith

Caroline Smith, who we originally met back in July 2012 at a house show in Madison, gave us a taste of her new material that night when she performed the song “Child of Moving On”.

Contrasted with the more indie rock sound previously conveyed with her band, Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps, this new song showcased a more soulful Caroline, with deep roots in soul and R&B.

That’s exactly what Half About Being a Woman is all about: Soul. Within the first few seconds of the first song, you know that this album brings something different to the table. It showcases Caroline’s powerful, soulful voice, over songs that range from more beat-driven R&B to slower jams about love.

That’s not to say the indie element is completely lost in this album. Songs like “Magazine” and “Walking Off Strong” sound very intertwined with indie rock still, with electronic garnishes. Contrast that with those slow jams including “All That I Know” and “Half About Being a Woman”, and you’ve got an album featuring the best of both ranges which Caroline so successfully masters.

This album really is incredible—and that’s coming from someone who went in with no preconceptions. I’m going to go ahead and say you’ll enjoy this album if you enjoy Billie Holiday, Norah Jones, and classic neo-soul queens like Erykah Badu. But keep in mind, it comes with a modern twist—and it doesn’t fully depart from the original indie rock sound which Caroline’s band started off playing.

Half about Being a Woman is now available on Murfie. Check out the track clip previews and I know you’ll want to hear more!

This Week in Music History (April 9th-15th)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

4/9- On this day in 1977, ABBA scored its first US No. 1 hit on the Billboard singles chart with “Dancing Queen”. The song was the group’s 7th US Top 40 hit, and would also hit No. 1 in 13 other countries. 

4/10- On this day in 1956, Nat King Cole was attacked onstage while performing a show at the Municipal Hall in Birmingham, Alabama. The attackers were five racial segregationists looking to make a political statement. The group was arrested, and Cole returned to the stage later that night for a second show.

4/11- On this day in 1994, Oasis released their first single, “Supersonic”. Although the track peaked at No. 11 on the charts, it eventually sold over 215,000 copies, making it the band’s 13th highest-selling single.

4/12- On this day in 1954, Bill Haley recorded “Rock Around the Clock” at Pythian Temple studios in New York City. The song, which went on to become a worldwide No. 1 hit, is widely considered to be the track that began rock and roll’s rise to fame.

4/13- On this day in 1967, Nancy Sinatra and Frank Sinatra were No. 1 on the singles chart with “Somethin’ Stupid”, making them the only father and daughter team in history to have a No. 1 single. The song was originally written and recorded by folk singer C. Carson Parks.

4/14- On this day in 1969, Paul McCartney and John Lennon recorded “The Ballad of John and Yoko”. Lennon performed lead vocals and guitar, with McCartney on bass, drums and piano. After the song was released, many radio stations banned it because of its controversial lyrics.

4/15- On this day in 1972, Roberta Flack began a six-week run at No. 1 on the US singles chart with “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face”. The song, written in 1957 by Ewan MacColl, was featured in the Clint Eastwood film Play Misty For Me. 

Oh, so you wanna own these gems, and hear them in lossless format? Check out our CD marketplace where you can stream (mp3, FLAC) and download in your favorite format (mp3, acc, FLAC, and ALAC)!