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.


#FreeFriday: Odelay

How about a giveaway to round out the week? Alas…it’s #FreeFriday!

For a chance to win today’s featured album, all you gotta do is read this post, then share it on social media at least one of these ways:

  • Share the link on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #FreeFriday
  • Retweet one of the #FreeFriday tweets we send via @murfiemusic
  • Share today’s #FreeFriday Facebook post

Be sure your social settings are on public so we can see your post! Enough details. Now on to the album we’re featuring!

Beck Odelay

Odelay (Beck, 1996)

Beck may have recently won a GRAMMY for his 2014 album Morning Phase, but his old accomplishments are still fresh in the minds of those who remember the most innovative 90s alternative rock.

Odelay, Beck’s 2nd studio album, is considered one of the best albums of all time. After it was released, it won Rolling Stone‘s Album of the Year, ranked number 306 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and number 9 on their 100 best albums of the nineties list. It won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album and was also nominated for Album of the Year.

There is something in Odelay for everyone. There are genre-bending compositions that tap into such sounds as grunge rock, old-school rap, folk, and electronic. The album is mostly upbeat, with a few mellow moments to keep you grounded. Some tracks that stand out to me are the upbeat hits “Devil’s Haircut” and “The New Pollution”, the southern hip-hoppy “Hotwax”, the epic “Novacane”, and the amazing groovy “Where It’s At”. When you listen to this album, there is never a dull moment.

Beck’s lyrical skills are outstanding. He uses flawless rhymes that are full of imagery and irony, delivered primarily with his rapping vocal style. He uses samples and distorted sound effects that in the end sound harmonious.

I’m going to go ahead and say Beck is pure musical genius. Odelay is a must-have album in your collection.

Share this post in one of the ways listed above, and we’ll let you know if you won the album on Monday! There can be more than one winner! Best of luck. :)

2015 GRAMMY nominees!

The Recording Academy recently announced the 2015 GRAMMY nominees! It’s interesting to see what music rises to the surface when countless recordings are released every year. You can find the full list of nominees on the GRAMMY website, but here’s an overview of some of the most popular album-related categories.

Have you heard any of these albums? Who do you think will win?! Let us know in the comments.

Album of the Year

Beck – Morning Phase
Beyoncé – Beyoncé
Ed Sheeran – X
Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour
Pharrell Williams – Girl

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – Cheek to Cheek
Annie Lennox – Nostalgia
Barry Manilow – Night Songs
Johnny Mathis – Sending You a Little Christmas
Barbara Streisand & Various Artists – Partners

Best Pop Vocal Album

Coldplay – Ghost Stories
Miley Cyrus – Bangerz
Ariana Grande – My Everything
Katy Perry – Prism
Ed Sheeran – X
Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour

Best Dance/Electronic Album

Aphex Twin – Syro
Deadmau5 – While (1<2)
Little Dragon – Nabuma Rubberband
Royksopp & Robyn – Do it Again
Mat Zo – Damage Control

Best Rock Album

Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
Beck – Morning Phase
The Black Keys – Turn Blue
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye
U2 – Songs of Innocence

Best Alternative Music Album

Alt-J – This is All Yours
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Cage the Elephant – Melophobia
St. Vincent – St. Vincent
Jack White – Lazaretto

Best Urban Contemporary Album

Jhené Aiko – Sail Out
Beyoncé – Beyoncé
Chris Brown – X
Mali Music – Mali is…
Pharrell Williams – Girl

Best Rap Album

Continue reading 2015 GRAMMY nominees!

#FreeFriday: The Mouse and the Mask

Time for our second edition of #FreeFriday! Each week we’ll review an album, and give it away to one lucky winner. For a chance to win the album, all you have to do is read this post, then share on social media at least one of these ways:

  • Share this blog post on Twitter—use the hashtag #FreeFriday and tag @murfiemusic
  • Retweet one of the #FreeFriday tweets we send via @murfiemusic
  • Share our #FreeFriday Facebook post (in a public post)

Now, on to this week’s awesome featured album…
mouse

The Mouse and the Mask (DANGERDOOM, 2005)

DANGERDOOM’s 2005 album The Mouse and the Mask begins with a very interesting question. The first voice on the album isn’t either of the group’s two members but rather the voice of Brak (the catlike alien you may remember from Space Ghost) asking the listener “Why did you buy this album? …I don’t know why you did, you’re stupid.” Aside from bringing up deep questions about the appeal of physical music in a digital age (which we at Murfie know all too well) this opening perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album. The Cartoon Network samples may make it difficult to take the album seriously, but the combined talents of Daniel Dumile and Brian Burton make it an album that, despite Brak’s protests, is definitely worth buying (or winning from #FreeFriday).

Dumile and Burton, better known by their stage names MF DOOM and Danger Mouse, are two of the most innovative and prolific hip hop artists of the last decade, and both were at the top of their game on this album. At the time of The Mouse and the Mask’s release, Dumile had released a plethora of material both lyrical and instrumental under several different names including Viktor Vaughn, King Geedorah, and Madvillain. Burton’s history isn’t anything to sneeze at either. By 2005 Danger Mouse had already gained national attention from his mixtape The Grey Album, a mashup of Jay-Z’s The Black Album with The Beatleseponymous white album. He went on to start Gnarls Barkley with Cee-Lo Green and Broken Bells with The Shins’ James Mercer. Burton was also credited with production on GorillazDemon Days, The Black KeysAttack & Release, and Beck’s Modern Guilt. It really is quite the resumé.

DOOM’s intricate rhyme schemes, Danger Mouse’s sampling skills, and the duo’s extensive experience make this album a great listen, but they’re not the only big names on the record. Burton’s pal Cee-Lo croons the silky smooth hook on “Benzie Box” while Doom spits alongside fellow New Yorkers Talib Kweli (on “Old School”) and Wu Tang’s Ghostface Killah (on “The Mask”). The album also features dialog from various characters from Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, including the casts of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Sealab 2021.

The Mouse and the Mask follows a storyline in which Aqua Teen’s Master Shake keeps trying to convince Danger Mouse to help him produce a new rap album, but the goofy dialogue is just a frilly garnish atop a rich and complex musical feast. No matter where Danger Mouse goes with his samples, DOOM is right behind him with a mind-blowing string of carefully veiled puns and tongue-twisting alliteration. I’d love to tell you more about it, but in a single line Dumile gives a summary better than I could ever hope to provide with a thousand words. At the end of “Mince Meat,” he boasts: “Off a DAT tape of rap, country or deep house / I’ll make mincemeat out of that beat, Mouse.”

Share this post in one of the ways listed above, and we’ll let you know if you’re the winner on Monday! Good luck!



Andrew Hinkens

Andrew works in Operations at Murfie, taking great care to make sure all your albums are ripped quickly and accurately. He enjoys collecting vinyl, going to concerts, longboarding, and playing with just about any dog he can get close to.



Sounds for a Bargain: Murfie Albums for $2

You might have seen my last blog post about the world’s most expensive CD, in which we had to humbly admit that you won’t be seeing many diamond-studded jewel boxes around here. Quite the opposite, in fact—Murfie is a thrifty music-lover’s paradise. If you’re not quite in the market for a record-breakingly pricey disc, all the better: we’ve compiled a quick list of great and shockingly low-priced CDs. The best part? They’re all $2, or $1 for gold members! We’ve pulled four examples, but there are thousands of $2 CDs waiting in the Murfie marketplace. Remember that every CD purchase includes free streaming in 320kbps mp3, and free downloads in mp3, aac, and lossless formats FLAC and ALAC!

60538-largeLoser by Beck

Alternative rock singer Beck is one of my all-time favorites, and “Loser” stands out as one of his can’t-miss tracks. “Loser” was originally released with this cover art as a single, but Murfie’s version packs four other songs, including “Alcohol” and “Corvette Bummer”. If you’re not already a Beck fan, this quick taste is a fantastic introduction, and it’s currently available for just $2. If you’re already a diehard, it’s an indispensable addition to your collection.

6740-largeTransmissions from the Satellite Heart
by The Flaming Lips

I was incredibly—and pleasantly—surprised to find this album for $2. I’m a huge Flaming Lips fan, and this album is up there with their best. The Flaming Lips are a rock band famous for crazy psychedelic sounds and even crazier song titles. Don’t miss tracks like “Moth in the Incubator” on this ambitious, risk-taking album. The Flaming Lips have an irreplaceable spot in my relaxed-listening rotation.

865-largeGreatest Hits by The Beach Boys

I’ll admit that I’m biased in favor of the Beach Boys. Fun, mellow tracks like “Surfin’ Safari” and “Surfer Girl” have a solid place in the soundtrack of my childhood. Even now, the Beach Boys are often still a go-to for a solo drive. This album just makes you feel good. There’s a lot to be said for a $2 pick-me-up.

22501-largeThe Mirror Conspiracy by Thievery Corporation

Thievery Corporation is a two-man DJ team, but their genre-bending music includes touches of reggae, dub, jazz, Brazilian, and more. The Mirror Conspiracy is a great-sounding, thought-provoking main act, but also blends seamlessly as relaxing background music. I saw Thievery Corporation in concert a few years back, and since then they’ve held a solid place in my chill music library. Check it out, and don’t miss “Lebanese Blonde”.

The lowest-priced copies of albums always show first in the Murfie marketplace, so get these while they’re still $2! You don’t have to go far to find other $2 gems, either!

Staff Picks: Top Albums for Lossless Listening (FLAC & ALAC)

One of my favorite aspects of Murfie is the ability to download my albums in lossless formats.  I personally prefer FLAC, but ALAC is an equally great option.  I was super excited, then, to hear about our partnership to allow lossless streaming on Sonos and VOCO devices.

Now that I have the ability to stream in full, lossless CD quality, I thought it would be fun to recommend a few albums that are particularly great for lossless listening.  This list was put together largely by consulting mixing and mastering insiders.  These are albums often used by studio engineers as standards for how a particular genre may sound at peak performance.  With that said, grab a good pair of headphones or hook up your Sonos or VOCO and relax!

12912-largeSea Change by Beck was mastered by Bob Ludwig, one of the most respected mastering engineers around.  In addition to working on Sea Change, Ludwig has worked with over 1300 artists, including the Kronos Quartet, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead and more.  Sea Change does a great job of pumping out clear dynamics without falling too far into the trenches of the Loudness War.  Particularly of note here are the vocal and drum captures.

21411-largeAnother great piece of work by Bob Ludwig is New Favorite by Alison Krauss + Union Station. This album is noted for great clarity in vocals, maintaining solid, crisp levels for the rest of the sonic space, too.  Everything is mixed into a great soft texture that will fill up any room.  A lot of the popularity of this album – which charted on Billboard for both Country and Bluegrass categories – comes from the fact that Alison Krauss also appeared on the exceedingly popular O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack the same year as New Favorite debuted.

6675-largeWith over 10 million sales across all albums, Deep Forest is perhaps one of the most popular world music groups around.  Their debut self-titled Deep Forest album accounts for nearly a third of those 10 million sales alone.  Deep Forest was mastered by Vlado Meller at Sony’s New York studios, and it demonstrates a wide range of sonic qualities, all mastered together as one cohesive unit.  If you want some good sounding lossless reverb, this is the album for you.  Though the group is still active, the only album to outsell their debut has been 1995’s Boheme, with over 4 million sales worldwide.

59377-largeGeorge Duke was a master and pioneer of the keyboard, dominating the world of jazz, as well as mainstream music.  Unfortunately, Duke passed away earlier this month, but his legacy is huge to say the least.  Many of Duke’s newer recordings were mastered by John Vestman and mixed by Erik Zobler, and are used as reference discs for how keyboards should sound.  Duke’s solid arrangements make for very clear, wide recordings that sound great on headphones or high-end systems.  I personally recommend CoolIs Love Enough? and Dukey Treats.

Now that you have some of my picks for lossless listening, I’d like to hear yours!  What album(s) do you think sound the best, particularly in a lossless format?  Leave a comment below, and we’ll give it a spin at Murfie HQ.

New Cool Collection: Coachella Headliners!

A new Cool Collection has hit the Murfie marketplace—Coachella Headliners!

This weekend’s festival in California has inspired us to bring some of the music to everyone, whether you are attending in person or not.

In the new collection, you’ll find albums by the artists who have performed at Coachella since way back in 1999:

100-large

Beastie Boys  
Performed in ’03

19736-large

Massive Attack
Performed on ’04

54913-largeManu Chao 
Performed in ’07

 

 

55078-large

DJ Tiesto
Performed in ’10

42686-large

The Black Keys
Performed in ’11

145282-largeTupac 
Performed in ’12
via hologram

 

 

You’ll also find Beck, The Chemical Brothers, Tegan and Sara, Bjork, Modest Mouse, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jane’s Addiction, Blur, Of Monsters and Men, Rage Against the Machine…and many, many more!

Stay tuned—we’ll give you an update this weekend with info about who is performing in real-time, and link you to the right albums to buy.

Check out the Coachella Headliners Cool Collection, and get groovin’!