#FreeFriday: The Rhumb Line

Time for our third edition of #FreeFriday! Each week we’ll review an album, and give it away to one lucky winner. For a chance to win the album, all you have to do is read this post, then share on social media at least one of these ways:

  • Share this blog post on Twitter—use the hashtag #FreeFriday and tag @murfiemusic
  • Retweet one of the #FreeFriday tweets we send via @murfiemusic
  • Share our #FreeFriday Facebook post (in a public post)

Now, on to this week’s featured album…

Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line

The Rhumb Line (Ra Ra Riot, 2008)

Different doesn’t necessarily mean good. I once tried to convince my friends that my root vegetable pancakes would taste awesome, but found that significant twists on traditional methods should be handled with great care (and much less allspice). When Ra Ra Riot decided to mix up the standard pop/rock recipe and layer cello and violin over a standard four-piece, they too faced the challenge of overcoming the ground-in tastes of tradition, but their results were much more tasteful than my heavy-handed attempt at making a meal of cupboard scraps when I should have just gone to the grocery store.

The Rhumb Line, Ra Ra Riot’s first full-length release, is a beautiful mélange of seemingly contradictory flavors. Frontman Wes Miles’ voice is equally well suited for dramatically stretching notes (like on “Oh, La”) as it is for playfully harmonizing with the bands’ several backup singers as it does on “Ghost Under Rocks”. He also has just the voice for covering Kate Bush‘s single “Suspended in Gaffa.” One would expect the 80’s basslines of “Run My Mouth” and synth riffs of “Too Too Too Fast” to clash with the classical elements of the band, but instead their rhythm creates a wonderful background for the sweeping strings that drive most of their songs. It’s a wonder that there’s any room left for different accents with all these tastes on the listener’s palate, but Ra Ra dares to blend in some rock and roll undertones with an electric guitar and a well-handled drum kit. The overall result is a delectable chamber pop dish infused with contemporary indie rock.

Connoisseurs of the genre may already know the group for their involvement with independent superstars Vampire Weekend. Wes Miles joined with VW’s keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij in 2005 to form Discovery, an excellent electronic group that unfortunately only has one LP to their name. He was also childhood friends with lead singer Ezra Koenig and even starred in a short film Koenig made in college.

If you haven’t heard it already, you should definitely give The Rhumb Line a listen. It’s a nice treat for springtime, and who can argue with free music?

Share this post in one of the ways listed above for a chance to win a copy of The Rhumb Line, and we’ll let you know if you’re the winner next week! Good luck!


Andrew Hinkens

Andrew works in Operations at Murfie, taking great care to make sure all your albums are ripped quickly and accurately. He enjoys collecting vinyl, going to concerts, longboarding, and playing with just about any dog he can get close to.



#FreeFriday: The Mouse and the Mask

Time for our second edition of #FreeFriday! Each week we’ll review an album, and give it away to one lucky winner. For a chance to win the album, all you have to do is read this post, then share on social media at least one of these ways:

  • Share this blog post on Twitter—use the hashtag #FreeFriday and tag @murfiemusic
  • Retweet one of the #FreeFriday tweets we send via @murfiemusic
  • Share our #FreeFriday Facebook post (in a public post)

Now, on to this week’s awesome featured album…
mouse

The Mouse and the Mask (DANGERDOOM, 2005)

DANGERDOOM’s 2005 album The Mouse and the Mask begins with a very interesting question. The first voice on the album isn’t either of the group’s two members but rather the voice of Brak (the catlike alien you may remember from Space Ghost) asking the listener “Why did you buy this album? …I don’t know why you did, you’re stupid.” Aside from bringing up deep questions about the appeal of physical music in a digital age (which we at Murfie know all too well) this opening perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album. The Cartoon Network samples may make it difficult to take the album seriously, but the combined talents of Daniel Dumile and Brian Burton make it an album that, despite Brak’s protests, is definitely worth buying (or winning from #FreeFriday).

Dumile and Burton, better known by their stage names MF DOOM and Danger Mouse, are two of the most innovative and prolific hip hop artists of the last decade, and both were at the top of their game on this album. At the time of The Mouse and the Mask’s release, Dumile had released a plethora of material both lyrical and instrumental under several different names including Viktor Vaughn, King Geedorah, and Madvillain. Burton’s history isn’t anything to sneeze at either. By 2005 Danger Mouse had already gained national attention from his mixtape The Grey Album, a mashup of Jay-Z’s The Black Album with The Beatleseponymous white album. He went on to start Gnarls Barkley with Cee-Lo Green and Broken Bells with The Shins’ James Mercer. Burton was also credited with production on GorillazDemon Days, The Black KeysAttack & Release, and Beck’s Modern Guilt. It really is quite the resumé.

DOOM’s intricate rhyme schemes, Danger Mouse’s sampling skills, and the duo’s extensive experience make this album a great listen, but they’re not the only big names on the record. Burton’s pal Cee-Lo croons the silky smooth hook on “Benzie Box” while Doom spits alongside fellow New Yorkers Talib Kweli (on “Old School”) and Wu Tang’s Ghostface Killah (on “The Mask”). The album also features dialog from various characters from Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, including the casts of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Sealab 2021.

The Mouse and the Mask follows a storyline in which Aqua Teen’s Master Shake keeps trying to convince Danger Mouse to help him produce a new rap album, but the goofy dialogue is just a frilly garnish atop a rich and complex musical feast. No matter where Danger Mouse goes with his samples, DOOM is right behind him with a mind-blowing string of carefully veiled puns and tongue-twisting alliteration. I’d love to tell you more about it, but in a single line Dumile gives a summary better than I could ever hope to provide with a thousand words. At the end of “Mince Meat,” he boasts: “Off a DAT tape of rap, country or deep house / I’ll make mincemeat out of that beat, Mouse.”

Share this post in one of the ways listed above, and we’ll let you know if you’re the winner on Monday! Good luck!



Andrew Hinkens

Andrew works in Operations at Murfie, taking great care to make sure all your albums are ripped quickly and accurately. He enjoys collecting vinyl, going to concerts, longboarding, and playing with just about any dog he can get close to.