What’s on Murfie: Tributes to the Beatles

The often-imitated, never-duplicated Paul, John, George and Ringo hold an unmatched place in our hearts and our music collections. Who didn’t grow up with “Yellow Submarine” and “Hey Jude” in the background? Only Paul and Ringo are still around these days, but the Fab Four remain musical icons and the face of an era. It’s no wonder that artists across the globe continue to pay tribute to their legendary tunes. We searched Murfie for four Beatles tribute albums and found these: they may span genres and time periods, but they keep their love of those guys from Liverpool at the forefront.

2159-largeA Tower Records Tribute to the Beatles
1996

There’s nothing quite like having some of music’s biggest stars cover music’s ultimate stars. Famed record company Tower Records released this 10-track collection in 1996, featuring covers of some of The Beatles’ greatest hits. Some of the 20th century’s greatest musicians pay their tribute, including Ike & Tina Turner on “Get Back” and The Beach Boys with “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”. Doing the Fab Four justice is a tall order, but these Tower Records stars give their classic tracks a twist that’s certainly worth a listen.

129850-largeTropical Tribute to the Beatles
1996

This album features an international interpretation of some of The Beatles’ most famous tracks using Latin rhythms like salsa, merengue, mambo and bolero. Some of Latin music’s biggest names, like Celia Cruz and Manny Manuel, take on 13 of the most famous Beatles songs, including “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Come Together”, “Let it Be” and “Hey Jude”. If you’re looking for something that closely resembles the original, this is definitely not the album for you. But if you’re open to a rhythm-heavy, genre-bending international take on some of the greatest songs of all time? This album and its dance-hall ready sounds are a great choice.

MI0000874100Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band
2009

Reggae collective Easy Star All-Stars have stepped in to provide their 13-track, dub-heavy tribute to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, arguably one of The Beatles’ most influential and best-loved albums. This tribute is truly easy listening, featuring knockout performances by guest stars the likes of Matisyahu.  It’s groovy without being overly produced or ambitious—the perfect reggae interpretation of one of the best-loved albums of all time. Don’t miss “Within Without You”, featuring Matisyahu, or  Ranking Roger’s “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”.

08e09b5c-11a7-11e2-bd3a-1231381369e0Pickin’ on the Beatles
1995

This tribute is part of the Pickin’ On Series, which features some of rock’s greatest albums with a bluegrass and country style. This album is no different, with 12 of The Beatles’ most famous tracks gone country. Songs like “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Yellow Submarine” quickly convinced me that these songs are quite a stretch from the originals. This interpretation of The Beatles, with its fiddles, banjos and mandolins, is certainly different, and I would only recommend it for die-hard bluegrass fans.

Staff Picks: Ally’s Picks

As a Murfie newbie in an office populated by seasoned music lovers and audiophiles, I thought there was no better way to make my introduction to Murfie’s blogosphere than to make my own musical statement. Now, it’s worth noting that though I may be young, I don’t tend to be the Murfian digging up the next big thing. I’m a believer in my own tried and true—the bands that have continued to narrate my life by never failing to make music that just sounds right.  I’m the kid you went to elementary school with who just wouldn’t ditch his blankie: when something’s right, I never want to let go.

6334-largeKid A by Radiohead

As a die-hard Radiohead worshipper, it’s rare to find a Radiohead album I don’t like. Kid A, however, occupies its own musical universe. It’s music that gets under your skin, a paradoxical listening experience that’s quiet and cacophonous at the same time. Thom Yorke’s famous alien-esque vocals lend an ethereal feel to the album, giving you 48 minutes of a complicated, slightly unsettling dream. At the end of those 48 minutes and after tracks like “Everything in Its Right Place” and “Idioteque”, you’re left amazed that this album was created in a studio. What makes Radiohead the greatest band on earth is exactly that: every track sounds like the product of some unearthly time and space—and leaves you longing to learn more.

5710-largeWhite Blood Cells by The White Stripes

This album is not only at the top of my most played albums list; it so far exceeds the second place finisher that it feels like a natural, if not inevitable, fit on my staff picks. Without a single dud of a song, White Blood Cells has become as natural a part of my day as breathing (and certainly more natural than waking up in the morning). The White Stripes don’t have much instrumental variety—they love their guitar and drums—but there’s something about the way they handle them that takes this album to another level. It’s rock and it’s blues and it’s gritty and hard, but it also has the variety and sentiment to make you feel each song right along with them. And feel you do—tracks like “The Union Forever” and “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known” illustrate Jack and Meg White’s mastery of imparting endless meaning into succinct songs. Their endlessly interesting take on rock keeps me pressing “play” over and over again.

Noah’s Picks: Goldfrapp – Electronic Experimentation

Bold is the band that fixes what’s not broken.  British electronic duo Goldfrapp does precisely that throughout their discography, developing a polished sound only to discard it on the next album.  While this might make it difficult to culture a consistent fan base, it also provides a rich body of work with something for just about everybody.

MI0001550540Their first album, Felt Mountain, takes most of its cues from the past.  Alison Goldfrapp’s brassy, torch singer vocals take the forefront, set to rich, swelling instrumentals that sound somewhere between acid jazz and a James Bond theme song.  Standout moments from this album are the trippy opener, “Lovely Head,” and the sexy slow burner, “Pilots.”

MI0001982100Their next two albums centered Goldfrapp in a more accessible and club-ready sound.  Their craft is still in top form, though, cranking out danceable hits better than most of their contemporaries.  Highlights “Train” and “Strict Machine” on Black Cherry keep a punky, electroclash current running under the absolutely filthy synths and drum machines.

MI0000655012On Supernature, Goldfrapp’s most successful single and album opener, “Ooh La La,” eases the listener into a diverse landscape of electronic experimentation.  “Ride a White Horse” and “Slide In” keep the electroclash from Black Cherry alive, while “Let It Take You” and “Number 1” harken back to the sensual moments from Felt Mountain, sprinkling a little sweetness along the way.

MI0000011505

With their fourth album, Goldfrapp takes a radical turn by way of chilling out.  After years of singing about heroin and discos, Seventh Tree is Goldfrapp’s “coming down” album.  Slowed down, but never slow, tracks like “A&E” and “Little Bird” provide a lush, full sound, while “Clowns” and “Some People” strip away all the pretense for an electronic folk vibe. 

MI0002912173Their most recent album, Head First, came out in 2010, when 80s music was having a renaissance.  Goldfrapp tackled some of the trickiest territory from that period to navigate: campy, self-indulgent pop that never pretends to be anything else.  Again, Goldfrapp excels at what they set their mind to.  The first three tracks alone, “Rocket,” “Believer,” and “Alive,” are all genius examples of joyous, easy pop that will get stuck in your head for days.

Goldfrapp is prepping their sixth album for a late summer release.  What direction will they take next?  It’s impossible to say, but one can safely assume it will be new territory for the duo, and they’ll master that territory with their trademark flair.

Keith’s Picks

Even though we are still experiencing quite a cold spell here at Murfie HQ, Spring has arrived! It’s that time of the year for spending time outdoors and finally being able to drive around the city with the windows down and the stereo on blast. Here are some great albums to listen to, and some activities to help prepare you for the Spring music season:

Big D and the Kids TableStrictly Rude

ImageThis album is great for getting together with friends and having a ska-punk riot dance off. Really shouting “Noise Complaint!” will provide constant enjoyment…unless, you know, wishes are granted and you get a visit from good ‘ol Officer Bill.

I’d suggest starting your Spring out the right way by listening to “Shining On” and going for a well-deserved long walk. Be careful, though, because if you’re walking around in the Midwest, you may slip on some ice. (Listen responsibly, kids.)

The English BeatI Just Can’t Stop ItImage

Okay, so this post is starting out with some sort of ska-fueled trend. It’s for good reason, because ska music can be great for pretty much everyone. The English Beat are no exception. This album is great for a more chilled-out and relaxing experience, like a long bike ride or walk in the park.

 Various Artists – American Pie 2 Soundtrack / Euro Trip Soundtrack

Image

ImageHop in the car and go on a road trip! Pop in an album that makes you nostalgic, and think about those days where you could enjoy some fresh-baked pastry or a spontaneous trip around the globe. If you’re in the Midwest, roll the windows down and turn up the heat! If you’re a former punk-rock “obscurist” such as myself, you can still enjoy these memorable tunes from the back seat, where your fellow mow-hawk-supporting comrades won’t be able to judge you.

Godspeed You! Black EmperorAllelujah! Don’t Bend Ascend

ImageRainy days come and go, sometimes you may want to stay in bed with a warm cup of tea and a good book. Don’t read often? Try out some music literature with this album. It’s quite different than others, because like a great piece of art, it’s best to be left for the listener to interpret on their own. This dark and disturbingly beautiful album is ideal for those of us who love spending time listening to the sound of the rain. Are you a Fan of Godspeed You! Black Emperor? You may also enjoy the band Enablers—they even just released a new album.

Daniel and the Lion: Death Head (side A)

ALBUM REVIEWS
Daniel and the Lion: Death Head (side A)

Daniel and the Lion celebrated the release of their new album, Death Head (side A), on Wednesday, May 16th, at the High Noon Saloon in Madison. The indie pop band consists of quirky duo Jimmie Linville and Daniel Pingrey: Daniel and the Lion podcast

Death Head (side A) holds true to DATL’s minimal structure. It lets smart compositions, Linville’s voice, and a few key instruments, including acoustic guitar, piano, and drums, come together perfectly. “Death Head” is my favorite track. It has a rich, layered sound and infectious melodies that make you want to move. You’ll want to sing along to this album, especially with the song “Need You” (“I don’t want to say-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh that I need you…”).

The album also goes in a lot of directions, from DATL’s classic indie pop and folk to a meandering, Americana-esque track, “Flash Flood.” The final track, “Good Reason,” is even reminiscent of Bon Iver or some Coldplay, as it shows off Linville’s vocal range and a sound that masters the art of being both full and empty.

DATL is a fun band to follow, as they frequently update their website and blog with stories, videos, and pictures. Keep a lookout because Death Head (side A) will be released soon and Side B will be released later this year!

Albums For Every Relationship Status

Recently the Operations Manager at Murfie reminded everyone of the upcoming holiday known as Black Tuesday Valentine’s Day. I had managed to suppress any thought of this holiday and was pretty content with living an illusion. But now, like a beacon of light, was an email, allowing all those who were hitched or tied up to receive the day off, in honor of Valentine’s Day and in an effort to avoid any “fighting.”

At first, this seemed like a thoughtful and awesome gesture. Significant Others all over the Ops Room must be rejoicing! And then I realized, I have no signif other, nor am I a signif other. Hold up, hold up, hold up. That means that all SINGLE Ops staffers will be scheduled to work together on Valentine’s Day. Can you imagine what the vibe in that room is going to be like? Red flag.

I immediately sent out an email to all my co-workers. Who wants to date me so we can get the day off?

Rate of response: 0

At least it made for a kind of funny blog post…?

Here’s a variety of albums for every type of relationship status you may have this Valentine’s Day. And if you’re single – stop by Murfie HQ on February 14th. Us single Opsters will be dressed in black. Wine and heart-shaped pizza will be provided.

Newly “Single”
Rilo Kiley – Under the Blacklight
or…
Kelly Clarkson – Breakaway
or…
Puddle of Mudd – Come Clean

Wanting to be in a Relationship
Dashboard Confessional – A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar

In a Relationship, but you “don’t believe in being Facebook Official”
Usher – Confessions

In a Relationship
A’ight Murfie-ites, this is your challenge. Share an album that you think does a good job of characterizing “In a Relationship.” Because I sure as hell couldn’t come up with one. I wanted to go with something feminine and carefree, but female albums these days sound more like “You don’t need relationships, you don’t need a man, yeah single ladies!” So please, suggestions welcome. In the comments section below.

It’s Complicated
John Mayer – Battle Studies

In a Domestic Partnership
Juno – The Soundtrack

Engaged
Colbie Caillat – Coco

In an Open Relationship
Ke$ha – Animal

Married
Phil Vassar – Phil Vassar

Cool Music: To Impress Your Friends

Most of the ingestors who work at Murfie have some sort of musical background – or at least some small obsession with music. There’s one set of speakers to go around the ingest room, and thanks to booming business (YAY!), at any given time there could be as many as six ingestors. Which means 12 hands and 12 ears fighting for the right to the speakers.

There’s no doubt that everyone has their own preference in music. In a room full of music junkies, you’re hoping to win over your fellow comrades with your superior musical taste – with the ultimate goal of claiming speaker duty. Who doesn’t wanna be “that guy?” The one that is always playing the best music.

If you think about it, there is quite a lot of pressure in many situations where musical pickings can win you friends or foes. Take road trips for example. You’re driving. Your friend has your iPod. You tell them to put on your “Fun Times” playlist. Cuz it’s the bomb. And then soaring over your dashboard is Bonnie Rait’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”

“Oh…ha…ha…that’s funny…that must have been an accidental add…from my…um…sister…ha…ha…” When in reality, one too many times you’ve driven home in broad day light belting this song at the top of your lungs while tears collect in your cup holders.

There is always the distinction between what we listen to in public, and what we listen to in private. Unless you are one of our ingestors, Tynan, who proudly admitted that when he has a hold of the speakers, he plays Lady Gaga or Beyonce. And when he is alone? He just plays Beyonce. Tynan often loses his speaker privileges in the ingest room.

Victor and I are other classical cases of musical insecurity. On the rare occasion that Victor is alone working a midnight shift, you can hear him passionately singing The Phantom of the Opera (Broadway Edition) from 3 floors down. Sorry Vic, busted. But during his day time shifts when everyone else is around, he opts for Foo Fighters’ “Wasting Light.”

When I want to impress my colleagues with my well rounded musical taste, I put on Jay-Z’s The Black Album. Let’s be real here. Who doesn’t love Jay-Z? But if someone were to ever peer over my shoulder at my Pandora station when my headphones are in…they would find Jason Aldean Radio. Closet country music lover. Right here.

To each his own when the headphones are in! That is about all I can say to that. But in case you find yourself in a social situation that requires good jams, here is a number of albums that will probably win you the question, “What are we listening to? It’s awesome.”

13 albums to play so people think you are cool:

  1. Ratatat – Classics
  2.  Jay-Z – The Black Album (Biased perhaps, but that doesn’t change the magnitude of greatness that is this album.)
  3. Styx – Greatest Hits (Long live this album. Every generation can and should appreciate The Styx.)
  4. Miike Snow – Miike Snow
  5. Third Eye Blind – Third Eye Blind (Although no one may ask you “Who is this?” there is no doubt that your peers will go crazy the second “Semi-Charmed Life” comes on.)
  6. The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You
  7. The Cults – The Cults
  8. Otis Redding – The Very Best of Otis Redding (Your friends will like Otis Redding if they like smiling.)
  9. The Black Keys – Brothers
  10. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (She has been plastered over the media scene in the last couple of years, but have you actually listened to her music? It’s fantastic. RIP, you goddess of talent.)
  11. Sublime – Sublime  (Playing this album says something about your ability to “be chill” – a desirable quality when trying to win friends over.)
  12. Broken Bells – Broken Bells
  13. Glitch Mob – Drink The Sea (Two options with a Glitch Mob album: your friends will either be concerned about the life path that led you to listen to such music or they will become equally addicted. It’s well worth the risk.)