Album Preview: “Lese Majesty” by Shabazz Palaces

Lese MajestyAlbum
Lese Majesty

Artist
Shabazz Palaces

Release Date
Tuesday, July 29

Label
Sub Pop

Pre-order Link
Pre-order Album

Preview
Shabazz Palaces, an experimental hip-hop duo consisting of Ishamael Butler and Tendai Maraire, may not have released their first songs together until 2009, but they’ve been a part of the rap scene longer than some of its members have been alive. Butler got his start MCing in the early 90s with the jazz-rap collective Digable Planets, a trio who went on to release two full lengths—Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) in 1993 and Blowout Comb in 1994—but split in 1995 due to creative differences.

All stayShabazz Palacesed quiet on the duo’s front until two mysterious EPs popped up in 2009. Aptly titled Of Light and Shabazz Palaces, the exploratory EPs immediately caught the eyes of the big wigs at Sub Pop Records. They signed Shabazz Palaces that year as one of the few hip-hop acts on a rock-oriented label.

Of LightIn 2011, Shabazz Palaces released their debut LP, Black Up, an album that finds the duo continuing to craft forward-thinking hip-hop both lyrically and sonically: its beats blow your mind—and make you want to move too; Butler’s lyrics could stand solo as poems and they’d still be pretty darn great.

Shabazz Palaces will release their follow up, Lese Majesty, next Tuesday. Based on what I’ve heard, it appears the collective is again shifting sonically forward. When Black Up was released, it felt like hip-hop made for another planet. Excitingly, Lese Majesty sounds like it was made for another galaxy.

Murfie Preview

Video Transcript

Kayla: Hey everyone, a new album release is coming to Murfie on Tuesday, July 29th. Shabazz Palaces are coming out with Lese Majesty. So James, you’re a fan—what are your thoughts on the new album release?

James: It’s a wonderful surprise. I had no idea they were coming out with new material until it was announced. And that’s actually how I discovered them in the first place. I was at my local record store and the owner said, “Hey, do you like Digable Planets?”—Which I did, I really appreciated their fusion of jazz and hip hop. And he said, “Here’s some new material by that guy from Digable Planets.” He was referring to Ishmael Butler, or “Butterfly.” The album—this was a few years ago—it was Black Up by Shabazz Palaces. It’s a fusion of experimental electronic music and hip hop, and it’s unlike anything else from that time. The new album proves to be more of the same—more of a lush astral electronic landscape with Ishmael Butler’s socially conscious rhymes.

Kayla: Awesome. You guys can check it out for yourself—it’s on our pre-order page, murfie.com/preorder.

Soundcloud Version

A teaser from Lese Majesty:

Pre-order your copy of Lese Majesty on Murfie! Each CD comes with unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC. 

Album Preview: “The Voyager” by Jenny Lewis

The VoyagerAlbum
The Voyager

Artist
Jenny Lewis

Release Date
July 29, 2014

Label
Warner Bros.

Pre-order Link
Pre-order Album

Preview
Jenny Lewis‘ third solo album, the soon-to-be-released The Voyager, is aptly titled. The singer-songwriter is now entering her third decade of releasing records, whether it be under her own name with a rotating cast of supporting musicians, with Rilo Kiley or with her boyfriend Johnathan Rice. Yet regardless of the who she’s playing with (or as) Lewis has been both consistent and brilliant, cranking out quality alt-country tunes in automaton-like fashion.

The Execution of All ThingsSurprisingly, Lewis’ first taste of the limelight didn’t come from music, but television. She began her professional career as a child, starring in a Jell-O commercial and a handful of teenage flicks. In fact, it wasn’t until 1998 that she decided to start a band. Rilo Kiley resulted, a band that delivered memorable melodies over a blend of country and indie rock.

In 2002 Rabbit Fur CoatRilo Kiley released The Execution of All Things on Saddle Creek Records and was subsequently signed to Warner Bros. The band went on to record two records under their contract, and in the process they smartly shifted the focus to Lewis’ vocals and lyrics. In 2011 the band announced that they had officially split up.

Acid TongueOne musical endeavor usually isn’t enough for an artist as talented as Lewis, and in 2006 she ventured into solo-artist territory. She released Rabbit Fur Coat to critical praise that year with her backing band, The Watson Twins, and with the help of Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. Lewis released her follow-up to Rabbit Fur Coat in 2008 with Acid Tongue, a record that further established the singer-songwriter as one of the most reliable and hardworking artists of the decade.

Lewis is set to put out her third solo record, The Voyager, next Tuesday. And while The Voyager is her first solo release in six years, it doesn’t miss a beat: Lewis’ new song-set is spot-on; the record is a satisfying experience, both musically and lyrically.

Murfie Preview

Video Transcript

Kayla: Hey guys, another album release is coming to Murfie on Tuesday, July 29th. Jenny Lewis is coming out with The Voyager. So John, what are your thoughts on Jenny Lewis?

John: I absolutely love Jenny Lewis. I’ve been a long time fan of her work, most people will know her from Rilo Kiley, a band that put out a lot of popular indie albums. They’ve unfortunately broken up. She’s come out with one other previous solo album called Acid Tongue, which I wasn’t a huge fan of, but it had a lot of great country-influenced indie rock songs. But she’s put out a few singles for this new album that are promising, including “One Of The Boys” which has a really fun music video. So I’m stoked, I’m ready for this album.

Kayla: Awesome. Well you guys can see for yourself, it’s on our pre-order page, murfie.com/preorder.

Soundcloud Version

A teaser from The Voyager:

Pre-order your copy of The Voyager today at Murfie! Each CD comes with unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC.  

Pink Floyd

Best of the Best: Pink Floyd

Earlier this month, Polly Samson, wife of Pink Floyd singer-guitarist David Gilmour, casually tweeted about the release of a new album in October of this year. It will be the first album to be released under the name Pink Floyd in twenty years, and as expected, classic rock enthusiasts immediately voiced their excitement.

Further details have emerged about the true nature of the mysterious release. Entitled Endless River, the album will re-examine material cut from the 1994 release of The Division Bell. It appears as if David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason will be expanding pieces of instrumental ambient music initially composed by keyboardist Richard Wright, adding vocals and overdubs to breathe new life into the old recordings. Roger Waters, the main creative force behind the band during their greatest height, will have zero involvement with the new record. One cannot help but feel that Endless River is shaping up to be more of a David Gilmour-inspired side project than a genuine Pink Floyd recording.

Personally, my fingers are not crossed for classic Floyd brilliance. I will still anxiously await the October release, and I will certainly be one of the first in line to buy it. In any case, the recent resurgence in Pink Floyd hype inspired me to have a retrospective listen of the band’s discography. Here are my top five albums.

5. Meddle (1971)

Meddle

Meddle is a nifty little album that traverses the sonic spectrum. Unlike later Pink Floyd albums, Meddle features compositions and contributions from every member of the band. The idea of the ‘concept album’ had not yet entered the band’s identity, although the 23-minute “Echoes” that closes out the album can be seen as a grandfather piece to later lengthy epics like “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.” The rest of the album’s tracks are relatively short and distinct, and apart from the obnoxiously atrocious “Seamus,” there’s a unique and somewhat uncharacteristic lightheartedness to the album.

Album highlight: “Fearless”

 

4. The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

The Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd hit it big with this one. A journey through sound and sight, The Dark Side of the Moon is continually marked as a masterpiece in engineering, songwriting, and musicality. With bassist and singer Roger Waters taking the songwriting reigns, the band started themselves down a path of greatness. The decade following The Dark Side of the Moon would launch Pink Floyd into international superstars. There’s not much more to be said about this album. If you haven’t experienced it, buy it now.

Album highlight: Sound engineering on “Us and Them”

 

3. The Final Cut (1983)

The Final Cut

Here’s the album that finally broke the band. Roger Waters had assumed almost total control of the creative process, and was crafting The Final Cut as a sequel to The Wall. Artistic differences, fights within the band, and the clashing of massive egos riddled the recording sessions. Despite Roger Waters leaving the band and effectively dissolving the successful quartet of Pink Floyd, the album represents some of Waters’ best work. Autobiographical and heartfelt, The Final Cut holds up amidst the band’s best.

Album highlight: Lyrics on “The Final Cut”

 

2. Wish You Were Here (1975)

Wish You Were Here

Often regarded as one of the band’s best works, Wish You Were Here clocks in with 5 tracks and contemplates issues of greed and sanity. Some of David Gilmour’s best guitar work is heard in the “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” compositions, and the synthesizer performance on “Welcome to the Machine” has become an icon of the band’s sound and feel. The guitar riff that begins the album’s title track remains one of the most recognizable pieces of music in all of rock music. Overall, the album is one of the band’s most cohesive and energetic releases.

Album highlight: Synthesizer solos on “Welcome to the Machine”

 

1. The Wall (1979)

The Wall

Here we have the greatest of them all. Two hours of music. The perfect concept album. Rock opera at its best. Roger Waters’ jewel in his Pink Floyd crown. After infamously spitting on a fan during a disorderly concert in Montreal, Waters began to fantasize about building a wall between himself and his fans. What followed was an album dealing with themes of loneliness, expression, disillusionment, war, religion, art, politics, love, sex, hate, and drugs. And that’s just the first disc.

Album highlight: All of it. Just listen to all of it.

 

In a discography spanning over a dozen studio albums, these five are arguably the best of the best. If you agree or disagree, let me know in the comments! And, of course, check out the Pink Floyd discography on Murfie.


Grant Peterre
@gpeterre

Grant is a Communications Intern at Murfie. He has played the guitar nearly his entire life, and his music and writings have been featured in international publications. He makes his home in both the United States and Italy, and will always be traveling in search of something.


photo (4)

Last Call: Your Murfie Week in Review

 

Monday
7/14

[Twitter] We remembered the great Woody Guthrie on his birthday.

[Twitter] We recommended Murfie as the best way to rip your CD collection in lossless format.

Tuesday
7/15

[Blog] Grant talked about songs that can easily get stuck in your head.

Wednesday
7/16

[Blog] Andrew talked about the top 5 albums of 2014 (so far).

[Website] We ran another round of Wishy Wednesday, where you can update your Wishlist for a chance of getting a wish fulfilled.

[Blog] We previewed La Roux’s new electronic synth pop album Trouble in Paradise.

Thursday
7/17

[Blog] We previewed a fresh new album called Heaven & Earth by the successful prog rock band Yes.

[Twitter] We received a crate from Korea! What do you think it could it be?

Friday
7/18

[Blog] Andrew recommended a few bands to fans of The Strokes.


 

The Strokes

You Just Might Like: The Strokes

The Strokes are arguably the most influential band of my generation. When the five-piece dropped their first demos in early 2001, the world collectively crapped their pants. And the obsession only grew from there.

Is This ItThe Strokes released Is This It,  a masterful 40 minutes of rock, later that year. The album sounds like the culmination of five kids practicing all day, every day—and that’s essentially what it is. Front to back, there are few records that simply play as well as this one does. Everything about it, from the hooks to the drums to the vocals, sounds effortlessly done. Forget best debuts of all time, this is one of the best albums of all time.

Of course, The Strokes were then improperly heralded as the saviors of rock ‘n’ roll and everything has sort of collapsed around them since. Their follow up, Room on Fire, is a fantastic record. But sometimes hype can wash out everything else, and everything the band has released since has seemed, well, washed out.

The Strokes were not only influential to peers (Arctic Monkeys to Franz Ferdinand to The Stills), but to a whole slew of other bands that followed.

Here are a few you just might like.

The WalkBows + Arrowsmen:

The Walkmen are another band that hails from New York, though they haven’t lived there in nearly half a decade. Their brand of rock comes packaged with a little more angst and regret than The Strokes, but they share a fan base all the same. Unlike The Strokes, The Walkmen have aged with grace. And though they’ve been on a hiatus since last year, their discography is as large as it is rich. I consider Bows + Arrows to be their best record, but if you’re looking for a more light-hearted listen, Lisbon is great too.

Light Up GoldParquet Courts:

Parquet Courts are a New York band by way of Texas, but they’ve adapted to the city’s culture quickly and quite well. Their breakthrough came when their second album, Light Up Gold, was re-released in 2012. I like to think of the charming, scrappy record as an early booze-induced practice session The Strokes may have had for Is This It.

Phrazes for the YoungJulian Casablancas:

Okay, okay, so this one’s kind of a cop out. Yes, Julian Casablancas is the lead singer of The Strokes, but his first solo venture, Phrazes for the Young, has a lot of never-before-seen Strokes-ian elements. The record gets clunky in its backhalf, but is an enjoyable listen nonetheless.



Andrew Brandt
@andrewtbrandt

Andrew is a communications intern at Murfie. When he’s not blogging here, you can probably find him blogging at a handful of other music sites. And when he’s not blogging at all, you can probably find him curled up with a good beer and a great book.