Sounds Like California: The Best of the Golden State

Last week, we brought you the best music that Murfie’s lovely home state has to offer. As in love as we are with the Wisconsin music scene, it’s time to take this nationwide. This week, check out reviews of three of the best albums by California bands!

Red Hot Chili Peppers
By the Way

In a blog post all about music from California, it was tempting to review RHCP’s Californication. I finally decided, though, that By the Way is just too good to miss; it’s like an answer to Californication’s question.

This is the first RHCP album that fully moves away from its ‘80s funk/rap/rock sound and pioneers a fresh new rock-pop sound. And what a successful move it was—along the way, the Peppers’ songs became more intricate, with guitar and string riffs and hooks for days. This album does the seemingly impossible: it creates music that sounds right at home on your radio, but that you’re not the least bit embarrassed to declare your love for.

This album was a big undertaking, chasing that pop-rock bliss that only masters like The Beatles have previously captured. It succeeds with catchy song after catchy song, complete with powerful melodic punches and existential lyrics galore. This is the band’s most consistent album to date, and it shows: this album is a timeless example of an already much-loved band evolving and expanding upon its sound to keep creating an even better album, without losing its signature touch.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Universally Speaking”, “The Zephyr Song”

Queens of the Stone Age
Rated R

If you’re a hard rock fan still mourning the loss of decades past, Rated R is likely the answer. It’s been hard to make a hard rock album in the last 20 years, but this 2000 album is one of the greatest of them all. Furthermore, this is a true California album, written in the desert of Joshua Tree.

Josh Homme and company have used this album to firmly establish their place as the reigning kings of the riff-heavy rock album in this new millennium. Full of low-guitar-string riffs and the band’s signature category-evading sound, this album is hard to pin down. Rather than being a weakness, however, that evasiveness turns this album into an experimental, instrumental album full of unique arrangements and unusual sounds, most notably electric piano and steel guitar.

What really makes this album fantastic, though, is that it’s totally fearless. There’s so many different styles and sounds represented here, each one cooler and more original than the last. Queens of the Stone Age is definitely made up of a bunch of weirdos, but here’s the thing: they figured out how to do whatever they want, all at the same time, and still make it sound pretty fantastic.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Better Living Through Chemistry”, “Auto Pilot”

No Doubt
Tragic Kingdom

I should preface this with my undying love for Gwen Stefani. Regardless of that fact, however, Anaheim, California-based No Doubt knocked this one of the park with an unbeatable combination of fantastic beats and one of the few female lead singers in alt-rock.

This album is at heart the most fun thing you’ll listen to all week, or maybe even all year. It’s on a whole new playing field from No Doubt’s previous albums, with hard-hitting rhythms and great instrumentation. Most importantly, though, is the ear candy factor: it’s an exuberant genre-bending collection of tracks, covering ground from punk to pop to ska and back again.

All the fun is backed up with some real musical achievements. The horn sections are killer, and Stefani’s vocals have several true shining moments. The combination of power ballads and poppy tracks with a bit of punk mixed in are a don’t-miss combo for when you’re just looking for a little sunshine.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Spiderwebs”, “Don’t Speak”

“Are you paying more for digital songs and albums than you need to?” Murfie says yes.

According to a recent comparison made by Mark Harris, buyers of digital music online save a significant amount of money when they purchase music from an alternate source than iTunes—like Amazon, for example.

How significant are those savings? We have some data that blows both iTunes and Amazon out of the water. When comparing the prices of 50 popular albums from a variety of genres on iTunes, Amazon, and murfie.com, and breaking it down by individual track price as well, Murfie has the lowest prices across the board.

For the following chart, we pulled the lowest album price from each of the three services, whether it was new or used: [View Price Comparison Chart Here]

You’d save $305.53 if you bought these 50 albums on Murfie over iTunes, and $159.87 and $246.48 if you chose Murfie over Amazon for physical albums and mp3 downloads, respectively. That’s 172% more you’re spending on 50 iTunes albums than Murfie albums, 90% more on Amazon CDs, and 138% more on Amazon mp3 albums.

An important thing to note is that when you buy an album on Murfie, you’re buying a real, physical CD stored at Murfie headquarters. From there, the innovative Murfie platform allows you to instantly access the music on your CD anyway you’d like: as downloads in your choice of formats (mp3, aac, FLAC, ALAC), via unlimited streaming (320kbps mp3 via website, iOS app, Android app, Sonos, VOCO), via delivery of the physical disc, or a combination of all of these.

As noted on the chart, some artists don’t even have downloads for sale on iTunes or Amazon. Since every album purchase on Murfie is backed by a real CD, you can download and stream music by these artists.

So what can you do with such significant savings? Buy more great music!

At the average cost of $3.56 per album on Murfie, you could get 85 more albums if you chose Murfie over iTunes, 44 more albums if you chose Murfie over Amazon CDs, and 69 more albums if you chose Murfie over Amazon mp3s.

If you don’t think Murfie’s prices can get any lower, think again. With a Murfie Gold or Murfie HiFi membership, you can save an extra $1 per album in the Murfie marketplace.

Albums come and go quickly at Murfie, and these prices were noted on 11/5/13. Visit murfie.com to buy CDs online and get unlimited streaming and downloads of your collection.

This Week in Music History (October 30th-November 5th)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

10/30- On this day in 1971, John Lennon went to No. 1 on the UK charts with his album Imagine. The album contained two songs—”How Do You Sleep” and “Crippled Inside”—attacking Lennon’s former Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney.

10/31- On this day in 1970, Led Zeppelin began a four-week stint at No. 1 on the US album charts. The hit album, Led Zeppelin III, was the band’s second US smash and remains one of its most critically acclaimed albums to this day.

11/01- On this day in 1980, Bruce Springsteen’s first No. 1 US album, The River, reached the top of the charts. The album was just one example of The Boss’s massive success, and is still critically acclaimed to this day. Rolling Stone ranked it #253 on its list of the greatest albums of all time.

11/02- On this day in 2002, police arrested an international gang that was planning to kidnap Victoria Beckham, formerly Posh Spice of the Spice Girls, and her young child. The group had planned to ransom Posh for £5 million, so they were taken in to custody and Beckham and her family were kept safe.

11/03- On this day in 1957, Jerry Lee Lewis released Great Balls of Fire with Sun Records. The single went on to become a massive hit, taking the No. 1 spot in the UK and No. 2 in the US.

11/04- On this day in 1980, reggae legend Bob Marley was baptized at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Kingston, Jamaica. Marley officially became a Christian Rastafarian and took the new name Berhane Selassie.

11/05- On this day in 1956, The Nat King Cole Show premiered on NBC-TV in the United States. Cole’s program became one of the first of its kind on national television to be hosted by an African-American.

Are you looking to own a piece of music history, or download it in lossless formats? Check these albums out in our marketplace!

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!

Stream The Beatles on Murfie

If you love to stream good music, then rest easy knowing that you can stream The Beatles on Murfie.

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It’s no secret that not all music is available for streaming on the internet. In many of these cases, the artist or record label will choose to keep that music off the cloud and push sales of physical discs instead.

Luckily, our business model here at Murfie offers you the best types of access to music from physical discs that you truly own. When you buy an album on Murfie, you have the freedom to stream it at 320 kbps with our Web Player, with any Sonos home listening device, and on the go with our iOS and Android apps. You also have the freedom to download that music in any format—even multiple formats if you want (after all, it’s your music)! At Murfie, you can download albums in mp3 and AAC, and lossless formats FLAC and Apple Lossless (ALAC).

Since purchases are backed by physical CDs that are stored at our warehouse, Murfie allows you to instantly stream The Beatles over HTTP at 320 kbps—so we’ve got real bragging rights! Real ownership lets you listen to your music collection—and any other music you buy—however you want.

See for yourself!

Download FLAC at Murfie

Murfie is one of the few sites on the web where you can download music in FLAC format.

What is FLAC music, you ask? Most audiophiles know the answer, but most folks buying and downloading music online have never heard of it.

FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. When music from a CD is ripped in FLAC, complex data compression algorithms are used, which allow the exact data from the music file to be reconstructed identically when it’s accessed for digital listening (even after it’s been compressed into a zip file, uploaded, downloaded, and opened). Since FLAC allows for identical reconstruction, it maintains the details that audiophiles and music lovers love throughout the process of transferring, leaving superior sound quality for listening and jamming out.

Since the details are saved, lossless formats like FLAC and Apple Lossless (ALAC) result in larger file sizes. This can be contrasted against compressed formats such as MP3 and AAC. When an audio file is converted to MP3 and AAC, tiny bits of data are removed to save space, resulting in a slightly altered sound.

Not surprisingly, there are many folks who may never realize they have been listening to compressed tunes until they listen to them in an uncompressed format for the first time!

On Murfie, you can download your CD collection in lossless, and get the most out of your music while keeping your physical collection off your hands! We even offer a rip to hard drive service for folks who want their CD collections ripped to FLAC and transferred to an external hard drive.

Since you own every CD you buy or send in to Murfie, you have the freedom to download your music in different formats, so that you can hear the difference and choose what’s right for you.

Try it out!

This Week in Music History (July 17th-23rd)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

12926-large7/17- On this day in 1968, The Beatles released their feature length cartoon, Yellow Submarine. Based on their songs and packed with interesting characters, the plot follows the four band members as they save Pepperland from the Blue Meanies.

27978-large7/18- On this day in 1968, the Grateful Dead released their second studio album, Anthem of the Sun. The album consists of five tracks that blend live concert tapes with studio recordings, successfully meeting the goal of conveying the band’s live sound to listeners.

MI00016306557/19- On this day in 1966, 50-year-old Frank Sinatra married actress Mia Farrow, who was almost 30 years younger at the time! Their marriage ended two years later when Mia’s filming schedule prevented her from being able to be in Sinatra’s upcoming film.

43170-large7/20- Speaking of Sinatra…on this day in 1965, Frank put his hands and feet in the cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, joining the ranks of Shirley Temple, Bing Crosby, and Judy Garland.

3649-large7/21- On this day in 1987, Guns N’ Roses released their first album, Appetite for Destruction. Rolling Stone says the album is ranked as the highest selling debut album of the eighties, and with hits like “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Paradise City”, it’s a must-listen!

69310-large7/22- On this day in 1941, George Clinton was born. Known as the mastermind behind Parliament and Funkadelic, this man is certainly an innovator of funk.

7890-large7/23- On this day in 2011, 27-year-old singer Amy Winehouse passed away from alcohol poisoning at her home in London. The huge amounts of critical acclaim for her music was met with almost equal criticism for her substance abuse problems. Recordings made during her rather short run have influenced countless modern female artists.

Oh, so you want to own any of these gems, or download them in lossless format? Well we just so happen to have them for sale for as low as $1! Find ‘em in our marketplace.