Pete’s Picks

Ok, raise your hand if you can tell me the most-watched annual sporting event in the world? Anyone?

It’s the Super Bowl, of course! But why do 80 to 90 million people from the United States tune into this annual sporting extravaganza?

Thats right, to see the new TV commercials!

So what has any of this got to do with music!?“, I hear you cry. Well, it is highly likely that we all have a track or two in our collections that have at some point been used in a TV commercial. Before the 1980s, the music found in television commercials was usually a jingle or a piece of incidental music. In 1971, a jingle titled “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” was written for a Coca-Cola advertisement and was later re-recorded as a pop single by The New Seekers and The Hillside Singers. Dropping all references to Coca-Cola, the new version was given the title “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing“, and it became a hit record in the US and the UK.

With the recent shift in direction taken by music channels like MTV and VH1, who preferred to jump on the reality TV show bandwagon as opposed to providing a platform to showcase new music, the once-forbidden topic of a band or artist “selling out” and licensing one of their tracks to be used in a TV commercial are long gone. In fact, it’s probably the best source of income and promotion that a band could wish for these days.  I hope this insight to a few of my favourite tracks used in TV commercials will help prevent you from scrambling across the living room and hurdling over the cat in an attempt to open Shazam on your mobile phone and get as close as you can to the TV to find out where that 30 seconds of music originates.

Jamie Lidell – Multiply

56019-largeJamie Lidell started out as one half of the techno-funk duo Super Collider before embarking on a solo career where he expresses his surprisingly rich and powerful voice over a blend of soul music with electronica, producing music which has been described as Motown meets the future. “A Little Bit More” from the album Multiply was used in a series of  TV commercials for Target.

Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg

MI0003453887Jake Bugg is an English singer-songwriter whose self titled debut album mixes Dylan-styled retro folk with contemporary rock riffs. Bugg’s track “Lightning Bolt” is currently being used to advertise Gatorade sports drinks across the US during the NBA championship games, and is likely to be viewed by an audience in the region of tens of millions across the US. It is understood that marketing executives chose Bugg’s track from thousands of “unknown” songs.

The Heavy – The House That Dirt Built

30255-largeThe Heavy are a UK Band from Bath, England, who play a mix of heavy-guitar, soul and rock backed with Kelvin Swaby’s vocals that have a certain Curtis Mayfield feel about them. Their song “How You Like Me Now?” features a sample from “Let a Woman Be a Woman” by Dyke & the Blazers and was featured in the Kia Sorento TV ad campaign where Muno (a character from the popular children’s TV show Yo Gabba Gabba)  and a bunch of unruly, hard playing soft toys take a Kia Sorento out for a spin resulting in an almost Hangover-style night on the town in Vegas. The ad was introduced during Super Bowl XLVI, and when the band was invited to play the song on The Late Show with David Letterman back in January 2010, it was the first time that Letterman had ever asked a musical artist to perform an encore on his show.  The band returned again to the show two years later to perform “What Makes A Good Man?”,  and they were encouraged to play their second encore.

Jet – Get Born

1458-large“Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” by Australian rock band Jet was one of many tracks used for Apple’s infamous iPod dancing-silhouette commercials, resulting in the band selling 3.5 million copies of their album Get Born, which is an incredible achievement for a band that was relatively unknown before the track appeared in the ad, proving why so many music publishers and labels are thrashing it out trying to get a slice of the revenue and attention that music in advertising delivers.

Mr. Oizo – Analogue Worms Attack

64366-largeFrench house musician Mr. Oizo introduced the world to “Flat Beat” with a little help from his head banging puppet buddy Flat Eric, whose appearance in a commercial for Levi’s Sta Prest brand led to the track maintaining the #1 position in the UK for three weeks in April 1999. The track is featured as a bonus track on his debut album Analog Worms Attack. The music video also features Flat Eric, as a high-flying record company executive calling industry taste makers and blasting the track down the phone while head banging away to the music in the most amusing fashion. “Flat Beat” is considered to be one of the earliest instances of Electro house music.

John’s Pick: Allison Weiss Was Right All Along!

If you have heard the name Allison Weiss before, then you probably already know her story. When she was fifteen, she began playing guitar to impress a boy in her creative writing class. Several years, a profile on every social networking site you could imagine and over a million YouTube views later, Allison Weiss continues to build an ever-increasing fanbase.  Her 2009 album …Was Right All Along is without a doubt the release that made my subscription to her channel pay off.

Any Allison Weiss fan will have seen a number – if not all – of her solo acoustic YouTube videos, featuring originals and covers. If you are hoping for a studio-quality album of these solo pieces, you will probably be disappointed. Instead, we are treated to full band, fleshed out versions of some really great songs – something Weiss continues to do with newer releases.  To fund the album, Allison Weiss used the crowd-sourcing pledge site Kickstarter.com, raising nearly eight thousand dollars – almost 400% her original goal. And you can hear every penny in the tracks. With …Was Right All Along, Allison Weiss’ sound changed from that of a hobbyist to that of a professional musician, and that trend continues today.

There are a few places on the album where one could nitpick (for example: the ebow on “Ghost Stories” just sounds off for some reason), but a number of the tracks reward the listener for each additional play. “You + Me + Alcohol”, “Fingers Crossed” and “Let’s Leave” steal the show in this department. “You + Me + Alcohol” may not be the most poetic of Allison Weiss’ large repertoire of songs, but it is just so damn fun to listen to and sing along.

The album features an extended band for most tracks, but it certainly does not entirely ignore the solo acoustic pieces that captivated most fans in the first place. “I Was An Island” (a personal favorite of mine) eases the listener in by slowly building on Allison Weiss’ solo acoustic guitar. It serves as a fitting transition, taking the listener from behind a webcam and into the studio. The second track on the album, “Fingers Crossed”, shows exactly how much Allison Weiss’ sound improved in the first few years of her career.

Interested in checking it out for yourself?  You’re in luck!  …Was Right All Along is available on Murfie for only $2.00!  Act quick, because it’s a steal.

Staff Picks: Noah’s Pick

While watching the trailer for Joss Whedon’s new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, I found myself really enjoying the song playing in the background. A quick search on Google told me it was “Rose Rouge” by St. Germain. St Germain was a new name to me, but I was really pleased to have another great song on my favorites playlist.

A few weeks later, I was strolling through the legendary Amoeba Music in San Francisco on vacation when I spotted Tourist (the album containing “Rose Rouge”) on their “Favorites” wall. I didn’t buy it that day, but I remembered it when I got back home and decided to give it a listen.

MI0002424707I’ve seriously had this album on repeat for just about all of May. Tourist is one of those magical albums that suits any number of moods. It’s chill enough that I can work while listening to it and not get distracted. It’s energetic enough to wake me up in the morning. It’s rhythmic enough that I can dance around my apartment with it on.

Tourist covers a lot of ground in its nine tracks. While it’s a combination of electronica and jazz, it manages to avoid the pitfalls of many of the albums that have attempted similar couplings.

Part of this has to do with Ludovic Navarre (the man behind St. Germain)’s skill at creating new, cohesive sound from a variety of sources; part of it has to do with a careful balance Navarre strikes between the cocktail party-ready jams and the slow burners that simmer when the party’s boiled down to you and that special someone.

Marlena Shaw’s “Woman of the Ghetto” vocal sample and infectious horn solos make “Rose Rouge” a gorgeous and emphatic opener. “So Flute” is seven minutes of pure ecstasy in the form of a flute solo that should be bowed down to and worshiped. The rest of the album is filled with gems for just about every taste.

My favorite track right now, though, is “Sure Thing,” which samples a deep cut from John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis. The pained, bluesy vocals singing “that ain’t right” over a throbbing beat create a lush atmosphere.  It’s a modern version of the classic, sensual songs that have long provided the soundtracks to our love stories.

It goes without saying that you should give this album a listen. Luckily for you, you can get it on Murfie for (last I checked) a sinful $3!

Keith’s Picks

Working at Murfie has taught me how important music is as a cultural phenomenon, and how people from different musical backgrounds can inspire one another. My musical taste has become more diverse in the last few years, originating from the deepest and darkest of the metal genre. Here are some of my favorite heavy metal albums found on Murfie:

2463-largeDomination by Morbid Angel

Florida death metal gods Morbid Angel bring a hard-hitting, excruciatingly heavy sound to this album, with amazing guitar riffs and extremely fast and complex drumming. This album gives a much more sludgy feel, with notable grooves in “Where the Slime Live”, and also “Caesar’s Palace”—which I would have to say is my favorite song on the album. The album was (and still is) heavily criticized by many fans as being much simpler musically and lyrically than their earlier albums. Nonetheless, Domination shows that metal bands can sound extreme without being aggressive and technical.

62111-largeMidian by Cradle of Filth

In my opinion, classical music and black metal go together like penut butter and jelly, or maybe pizza and a bloody mary (just me?). This is a great transition album for metal lovers who wish to get into black metal but don’t know where to start. Dani Filth’s infamous screeching vocals, mixed with the beautiful operatic undertones and chilling instrumentals, make this album both accessible and absolutely horrifying to the unaccustomed listener.

 

SymphonyX-VTheNewMythologySuite-1V: The New Mythology Suite by Symphony X

This is probably one of my favorite progressive metal works of all time. Inspired by some of the greatest guitarists in the world, this album shreds to a whole new level. There isn’t much to say about this album that hasn’t been said already: Its fast, melodic, complex guitar work mixed with powerful vocals and beautiful use of orchestral instruments provides a fresh and engaging take on a genre of heavy metal that has been around since the time of Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin.

 

7154e2a8-ddca-11e1-ac7b-1231381a75beBlood Fire Death by Bathory

To me, Bathory is the band that really captured the sound of black metal (although some critics will argue that it was actually the band Venom that fathered the genre). Bathory’s use of war-like themes, norse mythology and grim vocals really set the standard for the majority of black metal out there. What I love about this album is that it is incredibly experimental. The band certainly doesn’t like to stick to the same sound that can, quite frankly, get incredibly boring after a few listens. “A Fine Day to Die” and “For All Those Who Died” provide a more traditional black metal sound, whereas tracks like “Pace ’till Death” and “The Golden Walls of Heaven” are extremely fast and aggressive, akin to many famous thrash metal bands like Slayer and Municipal Waste.

 

66280-largeThe Light at the End of the World by My Dying Bride

I do have to admit that I found this album on Murfie after looking for a great doom metal album to add to my list. I have always loved the style of My Dying Bride, but I really haven’t given this album much of a listen. Some of the things that I really enjoy about the band are absent here: The depressingly slow and melodic guitar work, devastating vocals and the courageous use of violin and other such instruments that provide a great emotional experience. Still, this album is very poetic, dark and and at times can have a much more death metal sound than some of their other works. If you love depressing music, you will definitely enjoy this album.

Fresh Staff Picks in the Marketplace!

Hey all, are you itching for some music-shopping inspiration? So many albums, so many choices!

You can rest assured knowing our Murfie Staff will keep the staff picks coming. Check out the new additions in the Staff Picks section of our marketplace, which you can find anytime by clicking Staff Picks on the left sidebar.

Pick your favorite pick, peeps!

Staff Picks: Emma’s Picks

Let’s start with my favorite album, the bread and butter of my daily listening experience:

ImageClassics by Ratatat

Looking for some smooth jams to chill out to? How about mildly energetic beats to motivate you through a long work session? What if you don’t want to deal with lyrics? This album is the answer. I listen through it at least twice a week over the past two years. Never gets old.

The track “Wildcat” has an awesome cat rawr that’s used musically throughout the song. Another favorite track is “Lex”, it has a great build, add more layers, more building, then an epic climax. This album is perfect for a variety of moods and situations, as well as a great introduction to a less heard style of electronic music.

Now a more recent addition to my collection:

Good Morning to the Night by Elton John vs. Pnau Image

I first stumbled on this album through a friend who mixes and creates his own electro songs. Watching someone who knows what they’re doing in the music mixer program is like watching a surgeon. Precision is everything. The time cuts, layers, sounds levels, texture, everything is delicately labored over. Knowing that, I was able to appreciate even more the magic Pnau used to create this album. Elton John choose Pnau to hack apart, mix up, jumble and rumble his less famous tracks from 1970-1976.

Boy oh boy did they do a magnificent job. Listening through it sounds completely Elton-esque, but with a definite influence from Pnau. The title track is definitely the most catchy and is created from 8 different Elton John songs. This is the future of music collaboration!

Staff Picks: Pat’s Picks

Everybody loves to listen to music at work, especially here at Murfie. Our office is equipped with the Sonos System, so we can stream music right from out own Murfie accounts while we plug away. Often times when the tracks are coming from me, people will wonder what the noises are that are coming out of the speakers. Some things are new, some are older, but most is a little bit different. 

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Four Organs – Phase Patterns – Steve Reich
Steve Reich’s piece Four Organs starts with very short notes on a single chord. Over the course of the piece these notes grow in length by anticipating the chord and trailing after it, causing a general deconstruction of the chord and changing the way it sounds and feels. It is performed by (as you may have guessed) four organs, accompanied by a Maraca. If minimal and repetitive music are your bag, check out more of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Terry Riley. 

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Ascension – John Coltrane
John Coltrane is a household name. What is not as well known is some of the music he made in his final few years. The early and mid-60’s was a time that many musicians, including Coltrane, started to take jazz in a new direction. Ascension is a transition from more conventional jazz into the world of free jazz. This album does not have tunes so much as it has an alternating pattern of collective improvisations and solo improvisations. Without being constrained to chords or a form, the musicians are able to express themselves in new and unconventional ways. The world of free jazz is huge, and musicians continue to add to the tradition. Check out names like Ken Vandermark and Ornette Coleman.

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Tago Mago – Can
Can is one of those bands I wish I would have discovered long before I did. Tago Mago mixes groove and weird as good as any band before or after it, but sounds nothing like anything before or after. This album is from 1971 and has been described as highly influential by many artists even today. This is a good album to play loud.

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Black Angels – Kronos Quartet
Here the Kronos Quartet plays two of my all time favorite quartets. George Crumb’s Black Angels and Dmitri Shostakovich‘s String Quartet No. 8. Being the Kronos Quartet, they deliver these pieces with a mastery not known by many other groups. Black Angels is an interesting string quartet in that is calls for amplified string instruments and glasses and tam-tams to be played by the members of the group. Crumb uses the numerical values of 7 and 13 throughout the piece.

Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 is one of the most emotional pieces on the earth. Dedicated to “the victims of fascism and war,” this twenty or so minute piece projects extreme sadness, anger, and eventually acceptance.

48501-largeTrout Mask Replica – Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band 
One of Captain Beefheart’s Commandments for guitar playing included practicing in front of a bush. He instructed guitarists to “Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grain piece of bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn’t shake, eat another piece of bread.” This album is incredibly challenging for the first few listens, but over time it begins to make sense. It is regarded as one of the best rock albums of all time, and it was added to the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in 2010. “A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous, got me?”