90s music gems, Vol. 1

When you think of 90s music, what pops up in your mind? Hootie & the Blowfish? Nirvana? Dare I say… Sugar Ray? :)

Back in the day I hosted a radio show called Freaks in Flannel. Despite the name, I tried to stay away from flannel and pop, and instead played a mix of 90s music that I acquired from my dad’s CD collection and the radio station’s library.

Here are some 90s music gems that I highly recommend, if you’re feeling like jumping back in time.

PortisheadDummy (1994)

Portishead DummyIf you haven’t listened to Portishead yet, do it now—right now! Dummy is the debut album from this England-based trip hop group. In a nutshell, Portishead’s music contains slower tempos, hip hop samples, and bluesy introspective lyrics sung by Beth Gibbons. Dummy contains some of their signature tracks, including “Sour Times”, “Wandering Star”, “Roads”, and one of my favorite gal anthems, “Glory Box”.

 

BeckOdelay (1996)

Beck Odelay

I’d confidently say that Odelay is one of the greatest albums of all time. Beck is pure musical genius, and this entire album lays it all out for you. His vocals are somewhat more spoken than sung, dense with rhymes reminiscent of old school hip hop. Odelay has a hip hop vibe, mixed with southern-sounding rock and plenty of samples and distortions. Amazing tracks on here are “Devil’s Haircut”, “Hotwax”, “The New Pollution”, “Novacane” and “Where It’s At”. This is a must-have in your collection—check out the full review here.

Fatboy SlimYou’ve Come a Long Way, Baby (1998)

Fatboy Slim

Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably heard tracks from You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby played on radio stations and in clubs throughout the 90s. Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook,  is an English musician and DJ who masterfully uses samples and beats to create highly danceable tunes. Great tracks on this album include “Right Here, Right Now”, “The Rockafeller Skank”, and “Praise You”.

 

The Flaming LipsTransmissions from the Satellite Heart (1993)

The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips are a bunch of weirdos. When they’re not tripping on acid, they’re writing quirky songs that range from super simple rock tunes to all-encompassing soundscapes. Transmissions is actually their 6th album, and it brought us the unforgettable tune “She Don’t Use Jelly”. “Turn It On” is another great track, very raw-and-gritty-sounding like the majority of their early work. This album is lovably odd. There’s a chance you’ll hate it, but maybe not!


Kayla Liederbach
@djkaylakush

Kayla manages social media and customer support at Murfie. You can hear her on the radio hosting U DUB, the reggae show, Wednesdays on WSUM. She enjoys hosting the Murfie podcast, cooking, traveling, going to concerts, and snuggling with kittycats.


Audiophile Forums

Do you love talking about music? There are some online discussion boards for music collectors and audiophiles that may be of interest to you.

Forums aren’t for trolls—they’re actually quite fun and engaging! As a growing company, we thrive on your recommendations. Please don’t forget to spread the word about Murfie as a source for FLAC music, CD ripping, low album prices, lossless streaming, and more, next time you consider sharing insights on your favorite music websites.

Here are some forums we recommend:

► Head-Fi

A meeting place for headphone hi-fi enthusiasts.

► Hydrogenaud.io

A place to discuss audio technology.

► SteveHoffman.tv

A popular spot for everything from music to hardware to visual arts.

► ComputerAudiophile

A source for computer audio and music server Information and reviews.

Your Dose of Cool: Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday is one of the most influential singers and songwriters in jazz history. Frank Sinatra once said of Billie, “With few exceptions, every major pop singer in the US during her generation has been touched in some way by her genius. It is Billie Holiday who was, and still remains, the greatest single musical influence on me.”

Over the course of her career, Billie sang with swing pianist Teddy Wilson, saxophonist Lester Young (who nicknamed Billie “Lady Day”), Count Basie and his Orchestra, and big band leader Artie Shaw.

billie holiday love songsBillie’s life was not easy by any means. She was born in Philadelphia on April 7th, 1915, to a young mother and absent father. She was left in the care of others for the majority of her childhood.  At age 13, Billie moved to Harlem with her mother, where they both worked as prostitutes. In 1929, their brothel was raided and the two were sent to prison. Billie was released at age 14 and began singing in nightclubs while still in Harlem.

As her presence grew, Billie painted her singer persona as a woman unlucky at love. Her voice was soft but powerful, somewhat weathered from wear—and full of pain, heartbreak, and longing. Even at her young age, she had many experiences to sing about, and she wanted her voice to be like a jazz instrument. Her main influences were Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith.

Racial equality was nowhere in sight during Billie’s time. She was of mixed ancestry, including African-American and Irish, and the color of her skin was unjustly used to treat her differently. Even as a featured singer, she had to enter into some nightclubs and venues through the back door or kitchen entrance. At times she wasn’t allowed to stand with the rest of the band on stage. People heckled her from the crowd and her angry responses were seen as “unprofessional.” She didn’t receive royalties for her recorded works, and was paid in flat fees. So when singles like “I Cried For You” sold 15,000 copies, she didn’t receive payment to match the work’s wildly popular reception.

billie holiday's greatest hitsAs an adult, Billie suffered from drug addiction and was arrested multiple times, even on her deathbed. She passed away on July 17th, 1959 from complications caused by cirrhosis of the liver. Even up to her death, Billie was hugely popular as a jazz singer and sold out entire venues when she performed. Her recorded works are some of the most treasured for jazz collectors.

Check out our selection of Billie Holiday albums on Murfie and get some Lady Day in your collection!

Do you agree with the “Blurred Lines” verdict?

The jury has spoken! If you haven’t heard, a lawsuit recently found Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams guilty of copyright infringement, as their hit song “Blurred Lines” has proven to be too similar in composition to Marvin Gaye’s classic 1977 song “Got To Give It Up”.

The results of this lawsuit sparked interest in the music world, of course because of the popularity of each song, but also because there are believers that Thicke and Williams aren’t guilty of any wrongdoing. They’ve argued that the similarities between the songs are on a R&B genre and style level, not on a composition level—but the jury thinks otherwise.

Thicke and Williams have to pay $7.4M to the Gaye family as a result of the lawsuit. But now, the Gayes also want a federal judge to prohibit all future sales, distribution and performances of “Blurred Lines”.

Marvin Gaye’s children, Nona, Frankie, and Marvin III, published an open letter explaining their reasoning. It’s a very interesting read in terms of understanding what happened with the lawsuit, since Thicke and Williams were actually the ones who brought the Gaye family to court.

The open letter has heavy meaning in terms of creating music in the future. If the results of this lawsuit will be applied to all future music creation, then musicians who try to emulate a style connected to a certain genre or time period will be in trouble. Take reggae for example—almost all reggae songs use similar stylistic elements and lyrics that fit them into the reggae genre. The Sleng Teng Riddim, for example, has been used at least 380 times in different songs.

Do you agree with the “Blurred Lines” verdict, which found Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams guilty of copyright infringement? Vote below! Add your comments too!

Is hi-res audio worth the price?

As Onkyo plans to expand its hi-res music store to the US, it’s time to decide if hi-res downloads are worth paying more for than CD-quality files.

In recent times, we’ve seen more focus on the quality of music files online. For music lovers who enjoy digital music, this is a welcome change. Folks like musician Neil Young are taking a stance against the low-quality downloads that consumers are used to getting from online stores like iTunes.

“We live in the digital age, and unfortunately it’s degrading our music, not improving,” said Young.

To combat crappy digital music, Young launched his Pono device and its corresponding hi-res audio store online. Now, Japanese consumer electronics company Onkyo is planning to expand its hi-res audio store, e-Onkyo Music, to the US, and hopefully tap into the same audiophile market that prefers purchasing higher quality files.

CD-quality audio is better than low-quality files, and hi-res audio is considered to be even better than CD-quality audio in terms of bandwidth and dynamic rage. But when the two are compared in listening tests, even to high-bitrate mp3s, a lot of people can’t hear the difference. For this reason, the question of whether hi-res is truly “better” for listeners than CD-quality is still under debate. (Try comparing them for yourself!)

So how much do places like Onkyo and Pono charge for a hi-res album in FLAC format? Here’s an example, compared to the price on murfie.com for CD-quality FLAC.

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Pono eOnkyo Murfie
quality 48kHz/24bit 48kHz/24bit 44.1kHz/16bit
price $22.99 ~$31.00 $16.00

The Diana Krall album is a new release. How about building your back catalogue with an old favorite?

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Pono eOnkyo Murfie
quality 192.0kHz/24bit 192kHz/24bit 44.1kHz/16bit
price  $24.79  ~$30.00  $3.00

High-quality music is great, but it would be outrageous to pay for a hi-res album if you can’t hear the difference between that and CD-quality audio, which is already high. Some have even claimed that the hi-res movement is profitable trickery aimed at elitists and audiophiles.

Ultimately the choice is up to you, the listener. Find out what you can hear—and can’t hear—and make the choice that makes sense for you. When you choose to buy an album from Murfie, you’re buying a real CD that you can download (FLAC, ALAC, mp3, aac) and stream on different devices (320kbps mp3 or FLAC). Then choose to store the physical disc with us, or have it shipped to you.

For us, quality is key, along with providing access to your music that isn’t limited by any brand or device. Since everything released on CD can be ripped and downloaded in FLAC, Murfie just might be the largest source of high-quality FLAC music online. See for yourself!

VOTE: 2015 Murfie Listener’s Choice Awards

If you’re like us at the office… then maybe you enjoy the excitement of the GRAMMYs, but you think the nominees aren’t really THE best out of all the music out there. Obviously a lot of it has to do with what’s mainstream, what’s played on commercial radio, and things like that.

The Murfie staffers discussed this a bit, and we came up with our own list of nominees and categories. We have a broad range of musical taste here and totally pride ourselves on exploring what’s not popular, without denying the popular stuff that’s rightfully good.

Now, you, the people, can choose the winners in our 2015 Murfie Listener’s Choice Awards! Voting ends on Thursday, February 5th at noon—one vote per person, please! We’ll let you know who the winners are before the GRAMMYs air on Sunday February 8th!

Click the “Vote” button after each category to save your vote.

[Click “Continue reading” to view all categories]

Continue reading VOTE: 2015 Murfie Listener’s Choice Awards

Top 10 Most-Owned Albums!

For so long, the most popular album on Murfie—in terms of overall number in our ecosystem—has been Dave Matthews Band Crash. Today, a literal new paradigm shift is upon us, as information has unearthed about our new most popular album on the site.

(…and it’s leading the board by ONE copy! ONE!)

To please the list-loving humans that we are, here’s a list of our Top 10 albums on Murfie. Do you have these in your collection? Most are available right now for $1 – $3!

Achtung Baby #1. U2
Achtung Baby

431 copies

Crash#2. Dave Matthews Band
Crash

430 copies

Jagged Little Pill#3. Alanis Morissette
Jagged Little Pill

422 copies

Come Away With ME#4 – Tie! Norah Jones
Come Away With Me

416 copies

The Joshua Tree#4 – Tie! U2
The Joshua Tree

416 copies

Under the Table and Dreaming#5. Dave Matthews Band
Under the Table and Dreaming

384 copies

Unplugged#6. Eric Clapton
Unplugged

368 copies

Supernatural#7. Santana
Supernatural

351 copies

Cracked Rear View#8 – Tie! Hootie & the Blowfish
Cracked Rear View

347 copies

James Taylor Greatest Hits#8 – Tie! James Taylor
Greatest Hits

347 copies

Sufacing#9. Sarah McLachlan
Surfacing

344 copies

Legend#10. Bob Marley & the Wailers
Legend

343 copies

So what does this all mean, though? This list doesn’t closely correspond to the reported top selling albums of all time. Perhaps Murfie members are a group of like-minded folk, or perhaps we’re all around the same age, and have been exposed to the same big hits during our lifetimes. In any case, it’s interesting to make note of the patterns we see in our own music community!