Music for Spring

You can tell that spring is in the air—especially in Madison! It’s nice to wake up on a legitimately sunny day to the sound of birds chirping and —er—busses going down your street.

Spring is about all kinds of things: growth, new life, moving on, taking vacations, deep-cleaning your room, and throwing out the ol’ stack of pizza boxes. For us music lovers at Murfie, we’ve got a few album recommendations that are the soundtracks to our spring activities!


Stray Cats - Rock This Town

The Best of the Stray Cats: Rock this Town (Stray Cats)
“I have no idea why I associate this album with spring, but whenever I listen to it I recall the cool breeze of fresh air through long-closed bedroom windows and the faint smell of lilac in the air.  Maybe it’s because spring heralds the return of summer driving and there’s a lot of songs on this album about cars. My personal favorite from this album is ‘Rumble in Brighton’, which was my gateway drug into experimenting with rockabilly guitar.” – Jason

303145-largeActor-Caster (Generationals)

Actor-Caster is chock full of carefree pop songs whose jangly guitars and mellow basslines perfectly coddle the apathy that overcomes me when higher temperatures transform the indoors from the warm haven that protected me from snow to the cruel prison denying me the long-forgotten wonders of sunshine and fresh air. The first time I heard this band was at a concert a few years ago in early April, and ever since they’ve been my go-to artist for bringing in the summertime.” – Andrew

End on End - Rotes of Spring

End on End (Rites of Spring)
Emo was invented awaiting the last of the April showers and arrival of the DC cherry blossoms.”
– Jeff

 

After Hours With Miss D

After Hours With Miss D (Dinah Washington)

I usually prefer Billie Holiday, but she can be a bit heavy in the lightness of spring. For spring, I prefer someone lighter like Dinah Washington. Dinah makes me wish I had a big convertible and could drive through winding roads with the top down, sun shining and birds singing. ” – Tiffany

Brian Eno - Music for Airports

Ambient 1: Music for Airports (Brian Eno)

“Throw on Ambient 1, and relax in the fresh grass (once it thaws…). Optional: A nice glass of iced tea.”
John

 

28221-largeA Northern Soul (The Verve)

“I can’t rightly say why, but I find myself listening The Verve’s A Northern Soul with increased frequency these past few weeks. Likely, it’s the don’t-give-a-frak abandon of Nick McCabe’s guitar. Yeah, there’s the necessary pastoral work in there, too, but that’s not why you listen to The Verve. You listen to get clobbered. Perfect for crashing bikes and breaking bones which, if history is any testament, are apparently two of my favorite things to do come spring.” – Marc

Songs from the Wood

Songs from the Wood (Jethro Tull)
Definitely a great earth centered folk album! Good for listening to when sitting outside. ”
– Daniella

 

29067-largeVivaldi: Four Seasons (Raymond Leppard & English Chamber Orchestra)
“The first track is called “Spring”. Seriously who writes these questions?”
– Steve

 

 

24233-largeChutes too Narrow (The Shins)
“The earnest energy of this album is perfect for bopping around your apartment as you get all of your cleaning and spring projects done, and so wonderfully melodic that it’s hard to resist singing along :)”
– Leah

 

27004-large

Crosby, Stills & Nash (Crosby, Stills & Nash)

I find a little CSN helps when preparing the yard during spring.”
– Pete

 

105339-largeCourage to Grow (Rebelution)
Overall, Courage to Grow has really great themes: The lyrics suggest we change our social habits to be more conscious and respectful. Plus, the cool vibes from songs like ‘Feeling Alright’ make me look forward to a (hopefully) relaxing summer just around the corner. I strongly recommend this one—and it’s fun to listen to when I clean my room!” – Kayla

Tell us, what music is the soundtrack to your spring?

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner…and it’s a perfect time to remember to be grateful for all the good things in life. (And to eat!). Here are some albums that our Murfie staffers are grateful for as the holiday approaches.

Name: John
Thanksgiving plans: I think I’m going to go chill with my grandma. Not entirely sure yet.
Album I’m thankful for: I’m thankful for Ambient 1 by Brian Eno. This was one of the first albums that introduced me to ambient, experimental and avant-garde music, and it really introduced me to a ton of amazing and artistically satisfying music and people in my life.

Name: Daniella
Thanksgiving plans: Every year my family drives Up North and we have a big bonfire, eat tons of food, and take lots of naps.
Album I’m thankful for: Teaser and the Firecat by Cat Stevens.

Name: Marc
Thanksgiving plans: None in particular, although I imagine I’ll cook food :)
Album I’m thankful for: My Early Burglary Years by Morrissey – Not necessarily the best collection of his you can buy, but it does pack in several of my favorite Morrissey tracks.

Name: Leah
Thanksgiving plans: Headed home to a cozy family Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle’s place in Chicago (fireplace, comfy couch, great conversation) and spending quality time together at our family’s restaurant.
Album I’m thankful for: The Life Pursuit by Belle & Sebastian – this album was my first foray into the always-fun Belle & Sebastian, and as I dug back through their earlier stuff I found many of what are now my go-to tunes when I’m feeling down or stressed-out.

Name: Adam
Thanksgiving plans: Spending quality time with my beloved family in Minnesota. Eating ridiculous amounts of food and watching football. Maybe looking through Black Friday ads.
Album I’m thankful for: Classics by Ratatat. It’s one of the first albums I can remember that made me think, “Hmmmm, music doesn’t always need lyrics to paint a picture.” And for that I’m thankful.

Name: Gao
Thanksgiving plans: Watching the Packers destroy the Lions with my boyfriend’s family.
Album I’m thankful for: Backstreet Boys’ self-titled album. The sappy love songs always cheer me up. Plus, I’ve perfected the reach and grab move.

Name: Zach
Thanksgiving plans: Going up north to my grandparents house for good food and spirits.
Album I’m thankful for: Amelie (Soundtrack) by Yann Tiersen.

Name: Elsa
Thanksgiving plans: Going to a family friend’s farm in Monroe, WI for a big potluck dinner.
Album I’m thankful for: #1 Record by Big Star (1972). The quintessential power pop album, from a band that only became semi-known decades after their demise. This one is particularly special because it has the original lineup of the band, with the songwriting team of Alex Chilton & Chris Bell, both truly gifted singer/guitarists who deserved a lot more recognition than they received. You can hear the album’s influence in a lot of indie rock groups that came out of the ’80s and ’90s.

Name: Matt
Thanksgiving plans: Thanksgiving day for football watching and turkey #1 with the in-laws, and Thanksgiving night for turkey #2 with my family. I’ll have to pace myself :)
Album I’m thankful for: Moving Up, Living Down by Eric Hutchinson. I’m thankful for having discovered Eric during his live show in Madison over the summer. He’s a terrific performer, and every track on his latest album is terrific, fun listening.

Name: Tyler
Thanksgiving plans: Eat, eat…and eat! And of course, watch the Packers. Go Pack Go!
Album I’m thankful for: I’m really digging the new Avicii album True. I’ll have a fun time listening to it with my brothers when they are in town for Thanksgiving.

Name: Kayla
Thanksgiving plans: Visiting my friends in Milwaukee and eating at my parents’ house (word on the street is my mom’s making gluten free pumpkin cheesecake…yummm).
Album I’m thankful for: Is This It by the Strokes. For some reason I feel like my life would not be the same if I never discovered this album in particular. The lyrics, melodies, hooks, and layered instruments really speak to me. And I luuurrve Julian Casablancas :)

What album are you thankful for this year? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Thanksgiving from the crew at Murfie!

John’s Picks: Judging By The Cover

Normally, we like to share music that we love here – old favorites, or our current heavy rotations.  As an artist, musician and designer, I decided I wanted to share something different today.

I love album art and album design.  For the past 7+ years, I’ve been designing covers for my own music, as well as dozens of friends’ releases.  I also have a bad habit that I must admit to: I buy countless CDs based almost exclusively on the cover art.

For those reasons, I’d like to share some of my favorite album covers and let you judge for yourself.

Pyramid by The Alan Parsons Project was more or less the inspiration for this post.  I ran into the album on the front page of Murfie one day, and it instantly caught my eye.  I’ve never actually heard the album, but that design is undoubtedly ahead of its time.  Pyramid came out in 1978, and you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the art and cover design is by Hipgnosis.  Sound familiar?  Hipgnosis was a London-based design group that made the iconic art for albums like The Dark Side of the Moon (actually, they did almost all of Pink Floyd‘s art) and Led Zeppelin‘s Houses of the Holy.

112059-largeIf I could just post a gallery of Leif Podhajsky’s work, I would.  In fact, he is something of a design genius, and you should definitely check out his site.  Leif has done the art for tons of modern bands, but most people will recognize his work for Lykke Li (see Wounded Rhymes) and Tame Impala.  I’ve chosen to share Lonerism by Tame Impala as an example of the most subdued his work gets.  Leif often focuses on a balance between intense arrays of color and a counter intuitive desaturation of those same colors.    A lot of his work also features angular mirroring of nature (see The North Borders by Bonobo or another Tame Impala release, Innerspeaker).

39184-largeI couldn’t possibly make this post without mentioning the work of Mati Klarwein.  Though his paintings are largely associated with the psychedelic work of the 60s and 70s, Mati’s style was largely developed before the psychedelic era came to prominence.  In that way, like the folks in Hipgnosis, Mati was ahead of his time.  Luckily for him, progressive artists like Santana, Miles Davis and Brian Eno latched onto his work.  With albums like Live-Evil and Bitches Brew by Miles Davis and Abraxas by Santana, Mati’s iconic paintings became the image of a movement.  If you’re interested in more of Mati Klarwein’s work, there was recently released an amazing new book featuring his art called Mati & The Music: 52 Record Covers 1955-2005.

306990-largeAs an honorable mention, I’d like to bring up the recently-released Jay-Z album Magna Carta… Holy Grail.  I hadn’t heard of the album’s photographer Ari Marcopoulos until I got my hands on an incoming copy of the album here at Murfie.  The packaging for that album is hefty to say the least.  Ari Marcopoulos worked in collaboration with Jay-Z and creative director Willo to put together what they consider an album with an art book.  The packaging includes two thick booklets full of Marcopoulos’ photos, and in an interesting touch, all of the text is “censored” with scratch-off black lines.  To my knowledge, this is the only album Ari Marcopoulos has been a part of, and what a way to kick things off!  For those interested, the cover photo is of the sculpture Alpheus and Arethusa by Battista di Dominico Lorenzi (ca. 1527/28-1594) in the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.