Pre-review: Feist drops latest album ‘Pleasure’ tomorrow!

feist pleasure

It has been six years since Feist released her album, Metals, the followup to her critically acclaimed album, The Reminder. Tomorrow she will grace the world once again with her latest album, Pleasure!

It has been a long time coming, and after listening to Metals on repeat for the last two weeks, I can say I am thoroughly excited to hear what musical direction she takes next. Metals was indeed a step in a more personal direction from The Reminder. The album was criticized as having lacked singles that stood up to hits such as “1234” and “My Moon My Man”. Slant Magazine stated that the album had no “real spark to it”. Additionally, Lindsay Zoladz of Pitchfork Media stated, “it feels like such a refreshing and slyly badass statement of artistic integrity” but still that “it doesn’t reach The Reminder‘s heights.”

Despite a few comments insisting Metals needed something more, the album overall got scores ranging from C to B pluses from various other sources and was considered a success. The album debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 selling 38,000 copies its first week, whereas The Reminder debuted at No. 16 and sold only 31,000 copies. Granted the albums were released at two different periods in Feist’s musical career,  it feels good knowing the artists you love are succeeding in their craft regardless of criticism.

I would agree that Metals really had no “true” singles to speak of, but in my opinion, it didn’t need them. The album is a book rather than a collection of news clippings. The tracks flow into one another like the turning of pages. The print is faded in some places and bold in others. Beyond the words there are fingerprints, smudges and coffee stains, the cohesive bits holding what you hear together, in other words the silence. With Metals, you have to listen more carefully to the subtle nuances than on The Reminder. Feist has refined her art, and so it takes an even more refined palette to taste the notes this time around.

The opening track to Metals titled, “The Bad In Each Other”, is no doubt one of my favorite tracks on the album. The guitar lick and subtle percussion at the beginning of the track carries you off almost instantly. The weight of the swelling horns and strings makes you feel like you’re floating down a “neon river” of thick molasses right up until the chorus.

“When a good man and a good woman / Can’t find the good in each other / Then a good man and a good woman / Will bring out the worst in the other / The bad in each other”.

Feist’s delivery of the chorus, although solemn, has a lightness that contrasts well with the verses. If you have the refined palette I mentioned earlier, at this point you can almost taste that first single. Still, the inflection of her words leaves something to be desired. It’s generally an artistic choice of hers to swing her words in ways a pop singer wouldn’t, but if the audience can’t sing it, the song might suffer at the hand of critical sources.

So what is to be expected from Feist after her last project? Will she take the criticism of news sources to heart and strive for an album more reminiscent of The Reminder? I believe it to be unlikely. I believe she will continue to make the music she wishes to make and will stray away from making pop records.

Unfortunately, my opinion is slightly biased due to the fact she released two tracks on Soundcloud, both of which I recently listened to. The tracks are titled, “Pleasure” (after the name of the album) and “Century” featuring Jarvis Cocker. Both of the tracks at first glance sound fairly similar to something you would hear on Metals. They both have an acoustic room feel paired with a distorted or clipping effect on the vocals, however, I am not sure if this is intentional in each of the songs or to keep pirates at bay. Either way, tomorrow is right around the corner. I hope all you Feist fans are excited.

What are your thoughts about the article? Are you a Feist fan? What are your favorite tracks from her last several albums?

If you want to hear more from Feist, click here.

 

 

 

 

Record Store Day is almost here!

record-store-day-vinyls

Attention all you audiophiles out there! If you didn’t know, the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day will be commencing Saturday, April 22nd 2017. In celebration of this informal holiday, Murfie will be selling a number of handpicked CDs.

Record Store Day was founded in 2007 as a means of celebrating the culture of the independent record store. It brings together musicians, fans and records stores alike from all across the globe. A number of records are pressed specifically for the occasion and are distributed to participating shops in various countries. Live performances also take place in various record stores during this day.

In addition, we are pleased to announce that St. Vincent (a frequent contributor to Record Store Day), was elected to be its ambassador! In the past she offered a red seven-inch single in 2012, a ten-inch in 2015 and took part in a Vinyl Tuesday panel.

The staff here at Murfie are excited to celebrate this holiday with both its customers and the community. No doubt we will be doing a little digging of our own! We will be announcing our newly listed CDs next week before the big event so stay tuned.

Which artists are on your Record Store Day wishlist? The Murfie shop might have just what your looking for!

Staff picks: Spring Edition!

2013_0326_staff_picks1

Spring began Monday, March 20th this year, but it wasn’t until this week we really began to feel it. The birds are chirping, the clouds are shapely and voluminous, and with all the rain we’ve been experiencing in Madison the grass has finally started to turn green.

The world is alive and we have fresh ideas about how we’ll spend our summers. For us music lovers, you can guarantee a lot of time will be spent listening to our favorite albums,  kicking back, enjoying barbecued meat and craft beer with friends and family.

However you enjoy your time this spring and summer, on the golf course, at the park or in your own backyard, make sure you have the right tunes in your proverbial jukebox. Below is a list of staff picks we thought you might enjoy…

Steven chose Sabotage by Black Sabbath

sabotage

“Sabbath truly is one of the bands that started it all. When it comes to modern doom metal/sludge metal/stoner rock, Sabotage is one of my favorites in their discography. It also takes the cake as my second favorite Black Sabbath album cover (the self-titled being the obvious first choice).”

 

Nate chose Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips

flaming lips

“Released in 2002, this album features electronic-influenced, psychedelic, indie rock compositions. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots tells a story of how Yoshimi battles mechanical monsters, drawing on a wide range of emotions. It is a great album to turn on when in a melancholy mood and take in the beautiful tracks. Fun fact, it was later turned into a musical in 2012!” 

Jason chose Kala by M.I.A.

kala

“The first time I heard M.I.A.’s song “Paper Planes” off her album ‘Kala’, I was watching Slumdog Millionaire in theaters. It was one of those rare occurrences when I was so captivated by a song in a movie I went out and bought the album.  M.I.A.’s music is pop, but it is soulful, artsy and perfectly imperfect. To this day I see Kala as a shining beacon in a sea of cookie cutter pop albums.”

Maren chose Soundtrack to the End by Communist Daughter

communist daughter

“The debut release from indie rock band, Communist Daughter (St. Paul, MN), will sooth your soul, quiet your mind, and set your feet to dancing. It’s simply aural bliss.” 

 

 

Andrew chose Psychocandy by The Jesus and Mary Chain

psychocandy

“I gotta say I only picked this because “Just Like Honey” came on the radio this morning. The fuzzy guitars and lackadaisical vocals were the perfect backdrop to an otherwise quite drab commute on this rainy spring day.”

 

 

What suggestions do you have for our listeners? Please let us know if there are any albums you think people should know about and we will do our best to spread the word!

We hope you enjoy our picks and as always, check out Murfie.com for other great albums!

Album Review: “Currents” by Tame Impala

Currents
Released: July 17th, 2015
Reviewed by Thomas Johnstone
Rating: 4/5

“I heard about a whirlwind that’s coming ’round / It’s gonna carry off all that isn’t bound,” Kevin Parker announces on “Let It Happen,” opening track of Australian act Tame Impala‘s new record Currents. The lyric forecasts the album’s theme of personal change, from its distant rumblings to its disaffecting aftermath, and given the apocalyptic imagery, we’d hardly expect the changes to be slight.

Fittingly Currents delivers by departing from the act’s previous work in big, surprising ways, given the expectations we might have following two acclaimed albums which comfortably wear the label “psychedelic rock.” Despite possessing a keen sense of melody and lyrical maturity, Kevin Parker—the sole recording and producing musician of Tame Impala (he mixes this time around, as well)—has always seemed less of a songwriter than a clever studio craftsman. A typical track obscured his Lennon-like vocals behind snaking bass lines and 70’s guitar riffs, forming mantra-like jams awash in bombastic drums and reverb. The closing track of 2012’s Lonerism, “Sun’s Coming Up,” seemed to lay the Tame Impala formula bare. A sad carnival waltz for voice and piano, shockingly bare and traditional given everything it follows, eventually turns to full-blown noise collage à la “Revolution 9.” With this self-deconstruction Parker seemed to be both copping to his Beatles influence in the most blatant way, and acknowledging his art’s competing elements: the traditional song, and the abstract, chaotic sound world of an expanded mind.

With Currents, the song finally gets its day in the sun. This is largely an album of pop songs, and Tame Impala’s familiar elliptical jams are kept to a minimum. The main exception is “Let It Happen,” which tries several styles on for size over the course of its nearly eight minute fantasia: dance pop with vocoder, gnarly guitar riffs and even a diversion into synth-orchestra territory that recalls Mercury Rev. It’s like Parker preempted the DJs by remixing the track himself.

As the album progresses it’s clear such meandering is the exception rather than the rule, perhaps by design, as this opening track eases the transition to more traditional territory. Traditional, at least, in the abundance of well-structured songs like “The Moment.” It’s a testament to Parker’s songwriting chops (a few clunky rhymes aside, it feels like he’s been doing this all along) that a listener is more likely to fixate on the newly electronic texture. Keyboards dominate, with guitars mostly relegated to short, funky riffs as on “The Less I Know the Better,” a smirking love song which could easily fit on Daft Punk‘s Random Access Memories. Drums are more danceable and reigned-in (you won’t even hear a crash cymbal until track 5) and vocals no longer feel like an afterthought; Parker’s sweet tenor sits front and center, his double-tracked Lennon pretensions of the past nowhere in sight. Not that he’s entirely abandoned psychedelia, evidenced by a dramatic vocal delay in “Reality In Motion” or the blurry pads of studio scrap “Nangs,” but the effects enhance as much as they obscure. Parker balances the rhythms and textures of his electronic soundscape with surprising ease, resembling Caribou much more than the Beatles. In fact, he slips so comfortably into his new skin it feels like splitting hairs to complain that the album feels merely expert, rather than groundbreaking.

Assured as Parker’s technical skills may be, the heart of the album is a narrative arc shining a light on individual growth. “The Moment” confronts a now-or-never fork in the road, while “Yes I’m Changing” reconciles the choice to move ahead with the pain of what’s left behind. Closing track “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” contemplates change as illusory and temporary, skeptically suggesting Currents‘ arc is not a timeline, but a closed loop: skip back to “Let It Happen” and repeat, ad infinitum.

Currents answers Tame Impala’s rising profile with a daring change of direction, and that move has already earned comparisons to Kid A and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Excellent as the record is, the comparison is a bit generous—Currents doesn’t reach the heights of those seminal albums, and Parker’s boldness is of a safer variety. Whereas Radiohead and Wilco showed a willingness to lean into abstraction that bordered on perverse, Tame Impala does the opposite by embracing pop songwriting, and comes out all the more listenable for it.

“They say people never change, but that’s bullshit,” Parker confides on “Yes I’m Changing,” and Currents gives every reason to agree. Parker embraces change so successfully, we might assume he isn’t finished—Currents may be a mere pit stop on the way to Tame Impala‘s yet-to-come masterpiece, but it’s a trip well worth enjoying on its own.

Murfie Staff Picks: August 2015 Edition

August is right around the corner. Are you listening to something new, or recycling some favorite albums from long ago? Our staff is doing a mix of both, and we have some music picks you should hear. For more staff picks, check out our Staff Picks Cool Collection, which we update often!

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Aja
Steely Dan
1977

“A genre-busing masterpiece.”
—Andrew

80280-largeDying to Say This to You
The Sounds
2006

“New Wave inspired Swedish band with a lead singer who sets a new bar for ‘bad ass’ with her stage presence.” —Steve

377178-largeNikki-Nack
tUnE-yArDs
2014

“Merrill Garbus is the master of weirdly-catchy & just-plain-weird pop songs, and Nikki Nack is her best work yet.” —John

418070-largeWormfood
Jamaican Queens
2013

“I recently saw these guys live at the Frequency and they were awesome. They are a unique electronic, pop/rock band from MI and they kill it!” —Nate

82739-largeOne Time for All Time
65daysofstatic
2005

“One Time for All Time is full of top-notch math rock instrumentals and unique beats, check out all of 65daysofstatic!” —Kael

51527-largeMarcus Garvey
Burning Spear
1975

“Powerful. A must-have in your roots reggae collection.” —Kayla

Metal Starter Pack

A recent study indicates what Metal fans have known all along: Listening to Metal makes you grow up to be awesome (you can read the details for yourself here: The Metalhead Kids Are All Right).

That being the case, here’s Murfie’s Metal Starter Pack to get you on the road to a happy and successful life (don’t worry if you’re getting started late, most of these musicians are likely older than your parents).

123048-largeBlack SabbathBlack Sabbath

Arguably where it all began, this album is essential classical listening for all headbangers.

AC/DCBack in Black

Black, the staple ingredient of any quality metal band.  AC/DC defined a generation of rock-leaning metal musicians and Back in Black captures their unique ability to be simultaneously condemned by the moral majority and still receive play at wedding receptions.

Iron MaidenNumber of the Beast

Where would the world of metal be without disturbing album art?  Probably on more record store shelves, but that’s not what matters to Eddie and company.

123530-largeMotorheadAce of Spades

Don’t bother reading the lyric sheet, just pound your fist on the dashboard and press the accelerator into the floorboards.

Mercyful FateMelissa/The Beginning (Disc 1 and Disc 2)

Mystical traditions often appear in the the lyrics of metal music.  Mercyful Fate, headed by King Diamond, took this atmosphere to the stage.

MetallicaKill ’em All

What more can you say, “metal” is their first name!  Kill ’em All marks the beginning of a new generation of shredders lifting metal out of its rock roots and elevating it into a new form.

37087-largeMegadethRust in Peace

A counterpoint to Metallica (although the two cross stylistic paths over time, and share an origin story), Rust in Peace shows that metal can be intellectual as well as completely bad-ass.

SlayerSeasons in the Abyss

Taking metal into the darkest recesses of the human experience (at least before 1990), Slayer takes metal to an all new low (which is a good thing).  See “Dead Skin Mask” for a nod to a historical Wisconsinite…

AnthraxSpreading the Disease

Inoculating metal traditions with a stiff shot of Thrash (and the occasional thoughtful reflection), Spreading the Disease keeps it metal while opening doors to future crossover acts and points to the then future (now past) of metal music.

By 1990, metal had fragmented into a wide assortment of hybrid genres which I encourage you to explore once you’ve studied the essentials.  When you’re ready to graduate to the next level, rescue a 1980’s Camaro from it’s cinder-block perch, install a pair of Craig speakers in the rear deck and pick up one of those cassette-deck adapters for your phone…


Jason Gullickson
@jasonatmurfie

Jason makes sure all the electrons flow in the right direction at Murfie. His dream job is to automate himself out of his dream job, then hire his automaton to execute the “master plan.” He enjoys 20% of all musical styles and 35% of metal, punk, electronic and classical.


Album Review: “Lantern” by Hudson Mohawke

Hudson Mohawke Lantern

Lantern
Released: June 16th, 2015
Reviewed by Erik Wermuth
Rating: 3/5

Almost two years ago, when Jay-Z’s album Magna Carta Holy Grail dropped, Hudson Mohawke tweeted that “This record could’ve came out 10 yrs ago and no one would’ve batted an eye lid”. Admittedly, the Glasgow native had submitted several beats for consideration that Jay-Z ultimately decided not to use. It should be fairly obvious that he was not in a neutral headspace about the album when it dropped, but the critique highlights one of the central conflicts in music today: now that the technology for production and distribution has advanced to the point where anyone with a computer and some time on their hands can put out a body of work, why does so much of it still sound so much the same?

It would be tempting to use Mohawke’s own words against him and his latest release, the LP Lantern, but that would be both cheap and incorrect. 10 years ago, his style alone would have (and did) raise eyebrows. After a series of mixtapes and a reality TV talent-search appearance in the mid-to-late 2000’s, the happy trapper (trappist?) started gaining a significant amount of traction, especially for an unheralded teenager out of Scotland. The work he produced during this period was hard-hitting enough to send club crowds over the edge, while providing enough passion and innovation to keep critical listeners coming back for more.

The unique blend of happy-hardcore intensity and trap rhythms that dominated his music in the last decade culminated in the prestigious Warp Records releasing his first LP Butter in 2009. The album’s combination of creative power and head-nodding accessibility made it a critical success that led to high-profile collaborations with the Canadian producer Lunice as the duo TNGHT and with Kanye West on his Yeezus album, both of which vastly increased his popularity with American listeners. It is within the context of his meteoric rise to fame and its aftermath that his most recent album Lantern must be understood.

Hud Mo is clearly a very talented producer, and nothing in Lantern shakes my faith in that. He has his sound down tight. After making waves in December with his contributions to the Rap Monument, he’s moved away from hip-hop/rap to a more R&B/soul-centered approach, particularly in terms of the artists he features such as Jhene and Antony Hegarty. He interviewed extensively in the lead-up to his sophomore effort’s release, stating again and again that he wanted to get away from his status as a trap god and move on to more interesting musical territory. This impulse, in and of itself, is an essential one for any musician who wants to develop his art. Sadly, instead of moving in new creative directions, the album sounds like a watered down version of his earlier works. Lantern lacks the immediacy and creative urgency that made early Hudson Mohawke so compelling. There are, of course, some exceptions: “Scud Books” is a strong, triumphal track, “Ryderz” has something of his old Saturday morning whimsy, and “Lil Djembe” is a short, but punchy beat that has flashes of his old brilliance. However, while none of these would be out of place in his earlier work, none measure up to the expectation of excellence he has established for himself.

Hud Mo achieved success by taking opposing genres and binding them into something greater than the individual components. Butter was so magical because he lashed two dominating musical forces together without losing the purity or energy of either. It drew praise for its accessibility, but it’s important to remember that being able to access something only matters if the content is worth accessing. Like all the best electronic music, Butter burst with inventiveness and left the listener with a real sense of passion– even when it grated, its freshness and originality were never in doubt. But praise can be toxic if misdirected, and I worry that Hud Mo heard too much about how surprisingly listenable Butter was and decided to move only in that direction on Lantern. The listener is still treated to the occasional whining treble and high hat nod to trap roots, but they serve more as a sad reminder of what was than as the basis for an exciting new direction.

Ultimately, Lantern is still a solid album by a great producer. Had it come out ten years ago, eyelids would definitely have batted. 5 years ago, less so. Coming out today it sounds like one long compromise to pop sensibilities, some of which Mohawke himself helped to create—a canned production of known quantities. The creative verve that was beneath the surface of all his releases from his first EP LuckyMe in 2005 to Butter in 2009 is mostly a no-show. The taming of his trap sensibilities that Lantern represents was a major disappointment, mostly because of how high of a bar he had set for himself. At best it represents stagnation for one of the world’s premiere electronic artists and at worst it marks the beginning of a long, slow creative death. As a cutting-edge producer, if mainstream news outlets are describing your new work as lush, listenable lounge music, it’s a safe bet that you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line. That being said, this is only his second solo album, and his side work has remained impeccable. Here’s to hoping Hud Mo can right the ship. I give Lantern an uninspired 3/5.