This Week in Music History (July 31 – August 6)

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

AaliyahJuly 31: On this day in 1994, Aaliyah and R. Kelly secretly eloped in Rosemont, IL. Aaliyah just 15 at the time, so the marriage was later annulled.

Brothers in ArmsAugust 1: On this day in 1987, MTV launched MTV Europe. The first video they broadcast was Dire Straits‘ classic “Money For Nothing,” taken from their 1985 record Brothers in Arms.

August Are You Experienced2: On this day in 1967, The Jimi Hendrix Experience played their first of five nights at New York’s Salvation Club. The setlist included hits like “Foxey Lady” and Purple Haze” from their debut, Are You Experienced?.

The Smile SessionsAugust 3: On this day in 1963, The Beach Boys released “Surfer Girl,” the first single that gave production credit to Brian Wilson. He would remain as the band’s producer until he gave up on the Smile sessions in 1967.

Purple RainAugust 4: On this day in 1984, Prince began his 24 week stint of topping the US album charts with Purple Rain. The album has since gone on to sell over 20 million records worldwide, and is currently the sixth best-selling soundtrack of all time.

NirvanaAugust 5: On this day in 1959, guitarist Pat Smear was born. Smear would grow up to play in the bands Nirvana and Foo Fighters.

Whitney HoustonAugust 6: On this day in 2001, Whitney Houston signed a new deal with Arista that made her, at the time, one of the highest paid musicians in the entire world. The contract was said to be worth more than $100 million.

Find these musical gems in our CD marketplace, and own your own pieces of music history. Each album purchase comes with unlimited streaming and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC.

Album Preview: “Sand + Silence” by The Rosebuds

Sand + SilenceAlbum
Sand + Silence

Artist
The Rosebuds

Release Date
August 5, 2014

Label
Western Vinyl

Pre-order Link
Pre-order Album

Preview
The Rosebuds Make OutThe Rosebuds, a dance-folk duo out of North Carolina, formed their marriage and musical endeavor in 2001. Composed of Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, the duo was recognized by local indie label Merge Records two short years later, and subsequently released their debut record, The Rosebuds Make Out.

Gayngs RelaytedWhile the band has been prolific throughout their tenure, releasing six full lengths and three digital LPs in eleven years, they’ve worked tirelessly with other groups as well. In 2010, Howard contritubed his skills to Midwestern R&B supergroup Gayngs‘ only release thus-far, Relayted. And in 2011, The duo also toured with Bon Iver behind their enormous release, Bon Iver, Bon Iver.

Bon Iver, Bon IverJust before the release of their fifth LP, 2011’s emotionally devastating Loud Planes Fly Low, the husband and wife announced they had filed for divorce. While the divorce would surely mark the demise of other music groups, Howard and Crisp have continued to make music together. Next week marks a new chapter for the duo, as they’re set to release Sand + Silence, their first album since the split and the first for for their new label, Western Vinyl.

A teaser from Sand + Silence:

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

I Bought: Gwen Stefani’s “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.”

When I started working here at Murfie, I set up an account and pledged to use it as a way to explore records that wouldn’t normally find their way into my collection. In an effort to broaden my music knowledge, I sought out both mainstream and underground records, good and bad; my musical palette was soon to be an assortment of classics, instant classics and records that would, well, never be classics.

One morning, as I was scrolling aimlessly through pages of albums, I came across Gwen Stefani‘s solo debut,  Love. Angel. Music Baby. My heart was instantly set on making the purchase. My head’s only thought was, “This s**t is bananas.”

Rock SteadyIf my memory serves me right, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (aka L.A.M.B.) was released when I was in seventh grade. I knew Stefani as the frontwoman of epitomical ’90s band No Doubt, who’s album Rock Steady had hit the radio-waves pretty heavily three years prior. No Doubt was currently on hiatus, but like most bands who call it quits, they wound up making music together again.

I didn’t grow up with No Doubt, so I was completely oblivious to Stefani’s debut until the video for L.A.M.B.‘s first single, “What You Waiting For?” came on one day after school. Being a middle school boy, my gut reaction was to move as far away from the TV set as I could. And until Stefani released “Hollaback Girl” in early in 2005, I avoided L.A.M.B. with the utmost success.

Looking back on my teenage self, my reaction seems valid. But now, as a self-proclaimed, sort-of adult, I was curious to explore L.A.M.B. with open ears.

At first, my ears were ecstatic: the first half of L.A.M.B. straight up slays. “What You Waiting For?,” with its anthemic chorus and big synth riffs, is an ideal pop album opener; its frantic, active and quite satisfying. “Rich Girl” follows, and while it takes a laid-back, hip-hop-influenced approach, its just as fantastic.

Love Angel Music BabyAnd then there’s “Hollaback Girl,” that one song with the marching band, that one song where Gwen teaches you how to spell bananas, that one song that took a year of our lives we’ll never get back. Some days I love this song, other days I hate it; no matter your stance, however, you can’t deny its existence.

“Cool,” a perfectly placed ballad, follows “Hollaback Girl.” For me, “Cool” marks the end of the first half of L.A.M.B. because the remaining eight tracks are a hodgepodge of mediocrity and flat-out weird mid-2000s album tracks. OutKast‘s Andre 3000 shows up on “Bubble Pop Electric,” a track that sounds exactly like you’d expect; “Danger Zone” is surprisingly calm, and late-single “Crash” doesn’t live up to the standard set by the earlier ones.

Part of me thinks the second half of L.A.M.B. is a bust, but most of me thinks that the first four songs are just too good. At the very least, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. is a well-produced pop record that proves just how important track arrangement can be.


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.


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.  

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.



My Favorite Albums of 2014 (So Far)

They say that time flies when you’re having fun—and if there’s even an ounce of truth to that statement, 2014 has been an all-around blast. Being a music junkie, album releases obviously impact how I’m feeling about any given year. And so far, 2014 has been hitting the high bar that 2013 set.

Here are five of my favorites albums, so far.

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Transgender Dysphoria BluesAgainst Me! have been making pop-friendly punk for nearly two decades now, but the late 2000’s found the band lacking the ferocity they once harnessed. That all changed with this year’s Transgender Dysphoria Bluesa semi-autobiographical account of the life of front woman Laura Jane Grace, who publicly came out as a transgender woman in 2012. The album’s lyrical content is hands-down the most important you’re going to hear all year, but Transgender‘s musical content nearly matches in quality, having found a drive of its own.

Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else

Here and Nowhere ElseIn 2012, Dylan Baldi took his musical venture Cloud Nothings from a bedroom project to a full-blown rock outfit. Here and Nowhere Else, Cloud Nothings’ second release as a full band, is another healthy dose of raw guitars, ferocious drums and yelping vocals. The record gets in and out in half an hour, not wasting any time in rocking the heck out. And though its heavier than some Cloud Nothings fans may be used to, Here and Nowhere Else is just as full of hooks and catchy choruses as the ones Baldi used to pen alone in his bedroom.

Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All

I’m only 22,You're Gonna Miss It All but sometimes I feel too old to appreciate Modern Baseball. The band is technically of the “emo” variety, but that tag is most assuredly due to front man Brendan Lukens’ memorable but sulky vocals. The actual music that Modern Baseball dabbles in is all over the map, ranging from pop to punk to acoustic ballads. Their second record, You’re Gonna Miss It All, caught me completely off guard — but its quietly become my most spun record of the year.

tUnE-yArDs – Nikki NackNikki Nack

Nikki Nack finds Merrirl Garbus (AKA tUnE-yArDs) perfecting her unique brand of progressive pop; it’s weird, it’s fun and, above all, it’s just good music. For anybody who’s sick of the blandness surrounding today’s indie pop scene, Nikki Nack will be just the breath of fresh air they crave.

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

Lost in the DreamThe War on Drugs‘ Lost in the Dream brings to mind Springsteen, Petty and Dylan, but the album stands alone because it takes those influences and crafts something sprawling and unique out of them. Every track here sifts into the next, crafting one seamless, beautiful blur. I have a hard time believing a more cohesive, front-to-back record will be released this year—and that doesn’t bother me one bit.

Luckily for us, the second half of 2014 is looking just as juicy as the first. I’m already looking forward to Spoon‘s They Want My Soul (8/05), and self-titled debuts from Alvvays (7/22) and Jungle (7/15).



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.