Summer music festivals and shows on our radar

Kayla: California Roots Festival (May 22nd-24th)

Cali Roots(3)Three days of amazing reggae music vibrations and people. This festival is located at the Monterey County fairgrounds, where the famous Monterey Pop Festival happened in the sixties. This year I am most excited to see Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, John Brown’s Body and Slightly Stoopid!

Thievery Corporation at Red Rocks (July 19th)

Thievery CorpThis is going to be mind-blowing. Thievery Corp is the ultimate fusion of lounge, dub, world, reggae, and electronic, with amazing vocalists on rotation. The fact that this is happening at Red Rocks in Colorado, a natural theater carved out of the side of a mountain, is outta this world. I don’t think I’ll return. ;)

Matt: Live on King Street (Summer Series)

Live on King StreetMy favorite summer music series takes place right here in Madison. It’s the Live on King Street. The concerts are all free, feature excellent bands, and take place outside with the gorgeous Wisconsin State Capitol building as a backdrop.

Jeff: Ex Hex (July 21st)

Ex HexMy personal guitar rock heroine Mary Timony (ex-Helium) returns with her new rawk trio Ex Hex. Their 2014 album Rips is thoroughly great and super summery!

Marc: Summerfest (Summer Series)

Neil YoungSarah’s lifelong dream to see Neil Young will be realized at Summerfest this year. We acquired tickets as soon as we learned he’d be there. A few days later we’ll see Morrissey in Chicago, assuming he actually makes it there this time.

Beyond those fancy shows, I’ll likely attend:

Built To Spill (May 22nd)

I’m really enjoying the new album; several years ago I broke my collarbone and got a severe concussion on the way to see them, but like a champ I still went before heading to the hospital, and stayed conscious almost the whole show.

The English BeatThe English Beat (July 18th)

The show I’m currently most bummed to be missing is Refused, headlining Riot Fest at the end of the month. I assume it sold out immediately, since Refused was an amazing Swedish anarchist hardcore band with experimental flair from the 90s who broke up because they got too big, eg were betraying their principles (they were the biggest band in Sweden at the time). Apparently ‘principles’ means something different as we age. “Rather be forgotten than remembered for giving in”?… :)

DisclosurreLiz: Movement (May 23rd-25th)

Electronic music festival in downtown Detroit. I’m excited to see Disclosure.

Gao: Summer Camp Music Festival (May 22nd-24th)

Steve MillerI’ll SCamp for the first time this year. This festival will be much different than my typical festival experiences incorporating more rock, bluegrass and funk. It’ll be my 5th time seeing Umphrey’s McGee and they’re playing 5 sets! I’m dying to see John Butler Trio, The Floozies and Griz. Finally, I’ll “Fly Like An Eagle” with Steve Miller Band.

Electric Forest Festival (June 25th-28th)

Formerly known as Rothbury Festival, Electric Forest is my great escape. The festival features The String Cheese Incident and electronic heavyweights, BASSNECTOR and Skrillex. While I must see Russ Liquid again, I don’t have a set schedule. I’m most excited to discover new music and secret sets, find good company, and admire the festival sprites, art displays and light shows as I weave in and out of the forest.

Nate: The Jamaican Queens (July 13th)

The Jamaican QueensJuly 13th The Jamaican Queens will be at the Frequency.  They are an experimental electronic pop/rock band and I expect they will put on a good show. Also Summerfest has some good shows this year. I am going to try to see Kendrick Lamar and The Flaming Lips there for sure!

Music for lovers and haters

[Photo courtesy of Mother Fools in Madison]

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner—and depending on who you are, you could see this as exciting, or depressing, or just another day! Whether you’re in a relationship or not, we have some Valentine’s Day music picks for your playlist.

Songs of Love and HateSongs of Love and hate
Leonard Cohen

“Something for everyone. The swelling strings, arpeggiated acoustic guitars, and Cohen’s crooning allow the album to fit well into any romantic candle-lit scene until you decide to pay attention to what he’s singing.” – Marc

Lady in SatinLady in Satin
Billie Holiday

“Still a little more often sad than romantic, but for people who feel a bit of both it can make for a great evening.”
– Andrew

Gregory Isaacs

The Millennium Collection
Gregory Isaacs

“Some lovers rock from the cool ruler Gregory Isaacs is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Plus his songs are backed by the amazing Roots Radics band.” – Kayla

Lovers Rock

Lovers Rock
Sade

“Amazing, seductive vocals.”
– Matt

Thankful for Music!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we at Murfie wanted to share some music that we’re most thankful for. Music is what we’re all about—we listen to it all the time at work, at home, and everywhere. Here are the bands and genres that we couldn’t possibly live without.

Matt is thankful for Latin Jazz.

“I’m quite thankful for latin jazz. I’ve always been fascinated with the intricate rhythms and thick chord structures present in the genre. Plus, the music is downright fun. I had the privilege of taking in one Tito Puente‘s final concerts, and have been hooked for life. As a piano player, most of my favorite latin jazz picks involve strong keyboard parts. Just about everything by Eddie Palmieri is amazing. Learning latin jazz piano is on my bucket list.”

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Brandon is thankful for music recommended by his friend Cole.

“These are some of my good friend Cole’s favorite albums. I am thankful for them because even though Cole passed away in 2012, I still feel close to him when I play these tunes. It’s amazing how music can do that!”

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Kayla is thankful for Reggae.

“I am most thankful for reggae music. Ever since I started listening to it, my life has become so much more positive. This music has connected me to the most amazing people, and being able to play it for people on the radio gives me a sense of purpose and meaning. Older artists like King Tubby, Burning Spear, The Gladiators, Augustus Pablo and Barrington Levy drew me in deep. Later on I fell in love with new bands like Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, 10 Ft. Ganja Plant and John Brown’s Body, and I’ll travel far and wide to see them play, whenever I can!”

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Jeff is thankful for Noise Rock.

“What is that ungodly sound? Noise rock is an inverted umbrella of bands using standard rock instruments to deconstruct, mangle, and reassemble popular music into new challenging styles, often pushing as many buttons as boundaries. Bands like Big BlackUnwound, The Jesus Lizard and US Maple use weird tunings, nonsensical rhythms, and a healthy dose of nails on a chalkboard singing. More diaspora than unified camp, noise rock emerged from post punk, no wave and art school experimental scenes (Sonic Youth, Swans) but it’s knotty tendrils stretch into metal (Helmet, Melvins, UnsaneToday is the Day), mathcore (Dillinger Escape Plan, The Locust) and electronic music (Space Streakings).”

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Andrew is thankful for Hip-Hop.

“I’m thankful for hip-hop. I’d like to thank great producers like Madlib, Prince Paul, and Cut Chemist for perfecting the art of recycling music. Digging through crates of vinyl and old tapes to find and reshape long-forgotten music is a true art form, and it’s an added bonus when DJs use samples that introduce you to new styles or artists. I’d also like to thank longtime MCs like MF DOOM, Aesop Rock, and Del The Funky Homosapien and newcomers like Joey Bada$$, Chance The Rapper, and Chuck Inglish. To all hip-hop artists out there, your creative use of drum machines and the English language is marvelous and fascinating, and I look forward to spending the rest of my life geeking out over new beats. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of great hip-hop, and I strongly suggest that anyone who shares my feelings of gratitude ought to check out some Zion I (Amp Live is another great DJ) or some Busdriver.”

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We are also very thankful for you, our Murfie members! Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! :)
—The crew at Murfie

Spooky Tunes!

When it comes to your Halloween playlist, we’ve got you covered. Plus, we have an Alpha version of our upcoming Web Player to try out, with a playlist feature and more! (Just sign in, click “Player,” and look in the lower right corner.)

This year, the Murfie staff recommends some albums that range from dark and scary to corny and fun. Here they are!

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Eternal Youth
Future Bible Heroes
(Liz’s pick)

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Walk Among Us
Misfits
(Jason’s pick)

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Featuring: Dr. Gruesome…
Snow White’s Poison Bite
(Jason’s pick)

Monster Mash

Monster Mash
Peter Pan Records
(Kayla’s pick)

Great Hitchcock Movie Thrillers
Bernard Herrmann
(John’s pick)

Jaws Soundtrack

Jaws Soundtrack
John Williams
(Matt’s pick)

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Rocky Horror Picture Show
Richard O’Brien
(Brandon’s pick)

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Pre-Millennium Tension
Tricky
(Marc’s pick)

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Nearly God
Nearly God
(Marc’s pick)

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Twin Peaks
Angelo Badalamenti
(Marc’s pick)

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Soused
Scott Walker + Sunn O)))
(Marc’s pick)

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The X Files: The Album
Various Artists
(Andrew’s pick)

Happy Halloweeeeen! :-)

Music for Grandparents Day

Most of us here at Murfie have been lucky enough to spend time with our Grandparents (and some of our Great-Grandparents as well!). Music is something that can easily be tied to memories, and musical memories of our Grandparents are some of the best ones.

In honor of Grandparents Day, Sunday, Sept. 7th, here are some albums that remind us of Grandma and Grandpa!

Lawrence WelkMatt: Lawrence Welk – 22 Big Band Favorites  – “My grandparents were married during the Great Depression, so the big band music of that era, up and through World War II, was always their favorite. Dancing to big band music was one of their favorite activities. When visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s house as kids, my brother and I were forced to watch the Lawrence Welk show that aired on public television. WeJohnny Cash would reluctantly sit through the show—accordion solos and all—and rejoice when the show ended. In spite of my disdain for the TV show, big band music, particularly that by Lawrence Welk and his band, now bring back fond memories of my Grandparents.”

Andrew: Johnny Cash – 16 Biggest Hits “I was not at all shocked to discover one day that my grandmother owned no fewer than three copies of Johnny Cash’s 16 Biggest Hits.”

The BeatlesKayla: The Beatles – 1 “My grandpa always told a story about when The Beatles visited Milwaukee. He said that everyone lined the street to watch the fab four drive by, and when they passed my grandpa, grandma, and their young children, they slowed down and complimented their beautiful family. My grandma would always say ‘Oh, Bruce!’ whenever she caught him telling me stories like that, so I’m not exactly sure if it’s true, but I like to think it is. :) The TransporterI got my grandpa this Beatles 1 compilation, and I’ll never forget showing him how to put the CD in the player, turn it on, and press play. He immediately recognized and started singing along with the song ‘Love Me Do.'”

Steve: The Transporter (Original Motion Picture Score) “Once upon a time, I was visiting my Grandma in California and she asked me if I would like to watch her favorite movie. I was all prepared for something out of the black and white era, when she99020-large proceeded to pull ‘Transporter 3’ up on DVR.”

Jeff: Elmo & Patsy – Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer “This is terrible, but the only song I can think of is ‘Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.'”

Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler - Neck and NeckPete: Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler – Neck and Neck “My grandpa loves this album. I remember buying the CD for his birthday and he told me recently that he still plays it.”

Happy Grandparents Day from the crew at Murfie! Show Grandma and Grandpa lots of love!

Photo credit: “Child pushing grandmother on plastic tricycle” by Catherine Scott-Matti.

Musical Memories of Dad

Kayla: Father’s Day weekend is here, and many of us are taking time to say “thank you” to the guy who showed us so much about life. If your dad is anything like mine, he’s a huge music lover. I remember sitting on the couch with Dad, watching Pop Up Video on VH1 for hours, singing along to “Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt, and “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey.

RHCPMy dad tells a funny story about the first time I ever spoke a “complete sentence” in front of him. He said we were in our usual couch spot, watching Pop Up Video, when I turned to him and said, “Maybe the Wed Hot Chiwi Peppews will come on!”. (I’m from Wisconsin, but for some reason I spoke with a weird New-York-sounding accent when I was little.) My Dad said that he was so surprised and amazed to hear my first real phrase be about RHCP.

A lot of us have musical memories like these, whether your dad likes classic rock, funk, or classical composers. I asked the Murfie staff to share some musical memories they have of their dads, along with particular albums that come to mind. I hope you enjoy!

Beach BoysJohn: “Any album by The Beach Boys reminds me of my pops. I remember the ride home from daycare when I was little always seemed to include a Beach Boys tape. A lot of those songs are on Endless Summer.”

Blood, Sweat & TearsJeff:Blood, Sweat & Tears is one of my dad’s favorite bands and he plays them all the time. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone else who likes this band.”

Prime PrineAndrew: “This CD [Prime Prine] never left my Dad’s ’94 Plymouth Voyager. It was a staple on all of our family vacations.”

Jagged Little PillSteve: “My dad use to listen to Jagged Little Pill in the car when we lived in Oregon in ~96′. He would turn down the music when she drops F-bombs to protect my young and impressionable ears”

Kingston TrioMarc: “There was very little music in my house growing up. Radio was almost always talk stations with NPR classical in the car on Sunday mornings. However, I do remember many car rides back from Sunday church with The Kingston Trio in the tape deck, and, with the amazing technology of bi-directional tape decks, on infinite repeat.”

Car and DriverJason: “My parents almost always had music on in the car, and on Sundays they would play ‘oldies’ on 101.5 FM in Madison for a few hours in the morning (this was before the 24/7 Oldies stations). My dad was in a band in the 60’s and was into a wide-range of music from that era, but this album [Car & Driver] has a lot of his favorites.”

Richard ThompsonMatt W: “My father was very particular about the music we had playing in the car when we went to see relatives. Depending on the relative we were visiting it would either be Richard Thompson or Wagner.”

James: “It was Pop’s duty to clean the house every Saturday while Mom worked; he needed to look after us kids as well, but he never really considered that a chore. Two things would usually accompany his cleaning: records and a cocktail. The drink was usually either a 7&7 or a CC&7, and while the records would rotate through whatever Colombia House had sent that month, he would always find his way back to AbraxasAbraxas or Steppenwolf Live. Whenever I hear ‘Oye Como Va’ or ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ it brings me right back to those golden Saturdays – and I am reminded of MY first drink, as a 5 or 6 year old. I had just come in from playing outside, parched, and saw his cocktail on the kitchen table. I mistook it for an inexplicably unattended, but probably refreshing, lemon-lime soda; the condensation glistening in the soft Steppenwolf Liveafternoon light, taunting my thirst, begging me gulp some down. Now, Pop was watching from around the corner as all this was happening, and as witness he loved to tell this story. At that point in the tale he would pantomime my reaction (sometimes with an added spit take for the extra funny) and double over in uproarious laughter – he said he could never forget the look of disgust and shock on my face after I lowered the glass from my lips, but unfortunately he could never remember whether it was a 7&7 or a CC&7.”

LegendPete: “My Dad loved music, and Frank Sinatra was without doubt his favorite artist of all time. I remember as a kid sitting for hours with my older brother flicking through his vinyl record collection—he had a lot of Beatles 45 EP’s too. One album I remember him asking us to buy him for his birthday during the mid 80’s was Legend. Whenever I hear the song ‘One Love’ or see this album sleeve, it always reminds me of my Dad.”

Chet BakerLena: “My dad consistently listened to show High Standards with Jonathan Schwartz and the Real Jazz channel on Sirius. Just hearing the name Wynton Marsalis reminds me of him. I think my dad has a soft spot for Chet Baker, and so do I—it’s hard not to once you start listening.”

Smash MouthLeah: “My dad has always been a blast to drive around with, since he loves to play all sorts of music at full volume in his car. During my childhood, his picks centered on rockers like ZZ Top, Spin Doctors, and Nirvana, but as I aged, his tastes progressed to everything from Rage Against the Machine, to The Used (yes, really), to The Shins, to a fantastic Argentine accordian player named Chango Spasiuk. However, the fact that my dad will to this day still randomly chant that main distorted guitar riff from Smash Mouth‘s ‘Walkin’ on the Sun’ (‘ehh-EH-eh-EH-EH’) made this an easy choice amongst all of his favorites for jammin’ out.”

Happy Father’s Day from the Murfie crew! :-)

Mom-Approved Modern Music for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day can often mean a trip back home to spend the day with a certain woman who raised you. I love a good family tradition (and I love my mom even more), but let’s face it: A day of listening to music released circa your mom’s high school years can get a little, well… old. Here are three suggestions to bring your mom into the 21st century, music-wise, this Mother’s Day. Take them for a spin this Sunday—they’re guaranteed to not contain too many lyrics that will make family listening time uncomfortable. (Author’s Note: All albums have been successfully test-driven by my mom.)

MI0003392585Channel Orange
Frank Ocean

This 2012 record was the beginning of something big: Frank Ocean is one of the most incredibly talented singers and songwriters of our time. This record is packed full of the stuff of legends: One-of-a-kind lyrics, an ambitious sound, and a sizable helping of passion and philosophy. Ocean is a storyteller, and his stories highlight the best and the worst of what it’s like to be alive.

Musically, this album is a mishmash in the best possible way. It fuses influences from decades past (think ’70s funk sounds and ’90s hip-hop) with a new and thoroughly modern groove, including truly awesome use of quiet electronic percussion. There’s also heavy soul influence here–moments on this album suggest flashbacks to Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. I rarely listen to R&B, but I sure would if it all sounded like this. The songs have tight verses that hit you with incredible impact. The sheer force of emotion on this album hits you hard, creating a soundtrack for those who have lived, loved–and most of all, lost.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Bad Religion”, “Pyramids”

MI0003341793Blunderbuss
Jack White

Up until now, Jack White has been part of a group, whether alongside Meg White of The White Stripes or the rest of The Raconteurs. On this album, however, he’s the star: Not only is this a great solo record, it also holds its own among White’s incredible discography as part of a band. White’s reflections on life and love might tear you apart, but you’ll manage to enjoy every moment of the gut-wrenching process.

For White, going solo means that all his crazy musical ideas and influences find a home. This album contains traces of everything from old-school R&B all the way through modern country music. From his cover of Little Willie John‘s 1960 hit “I’m Shakin” to his use of fiddles and mandolins on “Blunderbuss”, a lot of ground is covered here. Jack White isn’t an easy man to figure out-—nor does he want to be: despite track after track lamenting the heartbreak of love, his female backup chorus includes his ex-wife Karen Elson. A few listens of this album, however, leave you with the impression that Jack White does his best work when he’s a little shrouded in mystery.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Love Interruption”, “Sixteen Saltines”

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The Black Keys

For a group with such a stellar big-band sound, it’s hard to believe that The Black Keys are a two-man show. This album comes after both members took some time away from their main band, trying their hand at other projects. It was a well-needed break: This album is their best release in years, cementing their own unique sound and their position atop the blues-rock food chain. This is nothing incredibly new or different, but that’s why I love them: Consistency is key with a group that constantly delivers music that just sounds like a good time.

This album very successfully plays around with a variety of styles, incorporating everything from up-tempo beats on “Howlin’ For You” to quiet, haunting harpsichord on “Too Afraid to Love You”. My personal favorite addition, however, is vocalist Dan Auerbach’s incorporation of falsetto, For a band that’s made a name with its bluesy sound, a falsetto was certainly a surprise (and a welcome one at that). He nails the sound on tracks like “Everlasting Light”, bringing a much-needed new edge into the mix. For longtime fans like myself, this album set a new standard for the band, turning classic bluesy sounds into something fresh and creative.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Everlasting Light”, “Howlin’ For You”