#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.



This Week in Music History (May 7th-13th)

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

The Mamas and the Papas5/7- On this day in 1966, The Mamas and the Papas began a three-week run atop the US singles chart with “Monday Monday”. The group won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for this song.

The Beatles - Past Masters5/8- On this day in 1964, The Beatles began a 14-week run on top of the US singles chart. The reign was a result of three back-to-back No. 1 hits, including “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (on top for seven weeks), “She Loves You” (on top for two weeks), and “Can’t Buy Me Love” (on top for five weeks).

Louis Armstrong - Hello Dolly5/9- On this day in 1964, Louis Armstrong hit No. 1 on the US singles chart with “Hello, Dolly”, making him, at 62, the oldest artist to ever hit No. 1. This record was broken in 2011, when Tony Bennett topped the charts at 85 with his album Duets II.

12646-large5/10– On this day in 1965, The Rolling Stones recorded the first version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” at Chess Studios in Chicago. Although the original track featured Brian Jones on harmonica, a re-recording completed two days later in Hollywood contained a different beat.

365913-large5/11- On this day in 1981, Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley died at age 36 after melanoma spread to his lungs and brain. His birthday, February 6th, was proclaimed a national holiday in Jamaica to commemorate him, and his compilation album, Legend, became the best-selling reggae album of all time.

46-large5/12- On this day in 1973, Led Zeppelin began a three-week run at No. 1 on the US album chart with Houses of the Holythe band’s fifth album. The group’s third No. 1 album, it went on to spend 39 weeks on the US chart.

12921-large5/13- On this day in 1970, the world premiere of The Beatles‘ film “Let it Be” took place in New York City. The film, a documentary about the band’s experiences recording and rehearsing songs for the album Let it Be, features a rooftop performance by the Fab Four.

You can own these and other pieces of music history by hitting up our CD marketplace! Each album purchase comes with unlimited streaming and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and Apple Lossless. :-)


Ally Boutelle
@arboutelle

Ally is a communications intern at Murfie, blogging about all things music. When she’s not typing away, she cooks spicy food, does hot yoga, and reads weird history books. She’s also a college student double majoring in history and journalism.


Staff Picks: Ally’s Folk Picks

Up until recently, I definitely did not consider myself a fan of folk music—I barely could name a folk artist, and never thought to add folk music to my listening rotation. In the last few months, however, I’ve become hooked on folk as a new soundtrack to car rides, homework sessions, and everything in between. Here are a few of my newfound favorites.

The Head and the Heart - Let's Be StillThe Head and the Heart
Let’s Be Still

The Head and the Heart’s sophomore album has solved the problems of the bands overly fast-paced debut, slowing it down to allow for more thoughtful songwriting and lusher instrumentation. The melodies here are beautiful and complex, incorporating violin, banjo, piano and guitars into a smooth and mellow sound. Combined with singers Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell’s vocals, the album is the perfect combination of soulful and lighthearted.

This band masters the art of creating ballads that are heartfelt, not sappy, and it shows. Highlights like “Cruel” showcase the band’s excellent songwriting, which lends itself perfectly to their newly quiet and pensive sound. The result is a new kind of folk music—thoroughly modern, not lost or stuck in decades past—that seems to have real staying power. The Head and The Heart have discovered what works for them, and they’ll withstand any shifts in what’s popular in music. This album ultimately plays like a plea to just take a moment, be still and listen—the rest will work itself out in time, after all.

> Don’t Miss Tracks: “Cruel”, “Homecoming Heroes”

Indigo Girls - Indigo GirlsIndigo Girls
Indigo Girls

The Indigo Girls are everything a musical pair should be: they certainly collaborate, but their differences in style ultimately create a stronger and more interesting final product. This album at times has a split personality, moving from the upbeat, bouncy “Closer to Fine” (one of my personal favorite songs) towards brooding tracks like “Blood and Fire” that ruminate on topics like love and faith. Although the songs reflect each member’s individual personality, they nevertheless compliment each other seamlessly.

This album is raw and powerful—it feels almost unedited at times, but in a wonderful way. The tracks capture their passion and let their personalities and opinions shine through, never asking them to keep anything in check. The power that surges through these songs, however, suggests a musical duo whose talent will take them far. Combined with their truly poetic songwriting, the Indigo Girls create a commanding musical presence that captures attention and demands that you really listen to every last word they have to say.

> Don’t Miss Tracks: “Closer to Fine”, “Secure Yourself”
> Check out this Murfie Podcast that we recorded with Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls!

Joan Baez - Diamonds and RustJoan Baez
Diamonds and Rust

Although previous installments of Baez’s work centered around her anti-Vietnam war activism, Diamonds and Rust brings her back to her soulful, yet commercial, roots. The album is flush with outstanding music influences, including contemporary jazz greats like Larry Carlton and covers of legends the likes of Stevie Wonder. Although Biaz shines on cover tracks, original songs like “Children and All that Jazz” reveal a new style that’s personal and extremely appealing.

The real hero of this album, however, is the title track “Diamonds and Rust”, arguably Biaz’s finest achievement as a singer/songwriter. Written about her relationship with Bob Dylan, the track reminisces about what once was in a way that is intensely intimate.  Her most popular track ever, the song is a folk classic and a whole new standard for the soul-baring love song category. The sheer power of “Diamonds and Rust” combined with the album’s other shining moments makes this album the best of Baez.

> Don’t Miss Tracks: “Diamonds and Rust”, “Winds of the Old Days”


Ally Boutelle
@arboutelle

Ally is a communications intern at Murfie, blogging about all things music. When she’s not typing away, she cooks spicy food, does hot yoga, and reads weird history books. She’s also a college student double majoring in history and journalism.


Sounds Like Texas: The Best of the Lone Star State

We know everything is bigger in Texas, but is the music better? This week, check out reviews of three albums by The Lone Star State’s greatest!

PearlJanis Joplin
Pearl

Listening to Pearl feels a bit heavy, and there’s certainly reason for that: Janis Joplin’s last, the album was recorded near the very end of her life. After succumbing to an overdose at 27, she would never live to see it finished and released. Her tragic ending was a symbol of how she lived: erratically, but remarkably—an incredible voice and presence that belonged to a very troubled woman. Pearl is both a testament to her incredible talent and a hint of what could have been.

One of the album’s greatest strengths is Full Tilt Boogie, the backup band that’s with her through every track. Together with Janis’ big voice, they create a sound that lets her rock, but keeps her refined and smooth. She doesn’t overpower them, nor they her—it’s a harmonious combination. On tracks like “Cry Baby”, Janis is her full, belt-y self, brought down to earth with Full Tilt Boogie’s influence.

This album has an organization to it that other Joplin records lack, and it’s a refreshing and new take on her music. Previous albums like Cheap Thrills have essentially lacked structure; while letting Joplin’s trademark rawness show is great, the extra guidance in these songs lets her shine in a different way. Her intensity is kept in check just enough to let the songs fully develop, but not so much that she never has her big moment. This album has taken an already incredible talent and refined it into something that much more listenable.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Cry Baby”, “Mercedes Benz”

 

370176-largeLos Lonely Boys
Los Lonely Boys

Los Lonely Boys are certainly true to their Texas roots—they call their musical style “Texas Rock n’ Roll”, a fusion of rock, soul, country, blues and Tejano. A group of three brothers, the band is forging those influences into a brand-new and extremely inspired sound. To cement their status as a true Texan band, the group recorded this album at Willie Nelson’s Pedernales recording studio.

At the heart of this album is their incredible music talent and creativity. Rather than making the album hard to follow, the group’s numerous musical influences instead work their way into a track list that is incredible varied and creative, yet cohesive. That variety turns out to be their greatest strength on Los Lonely Boys: “Crazy Dreams” is a masterpiece of guitar riffs, while “Dime Mi Amor” shifts effortlessly into a Latin-rock structure that echoes Carlos Santana.

Variety isn’t these brothers’ only talent, however: this album shines on instrumentals, vocals and songwriting. Rather than sticking to their Texas roots, their talent elevates them to what feels like a new genre: their songs are crafted with incredible nuance; they find a place in both your heart and your mind. Whether it becomes the soundtrack to your summer party or a quiet at-home listening session, this album deserves a place in any music collection.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Crazy Dreams”, “Senorita”

 

67224-largeGeorge Strait
Troubadour

It’s impossible to write a compilation of Texas music without at least one country album, and there is no country star more worthy of such a spot than the King of Country: George Strait. Texan-born, George Strait has released dozens of albums and had dozens of No. 1 hits. Twang is a testament to his signature sound and the solidifying of his status as country’s music supreme ruler.

A true Texas star, Strait’s collection not only contains nary a bad album, but manages to stay true to his Texas sound. After releasing so many albums, Strait still manages to find a new sound on Troubadour. The album finds him looking introspectively, creating a soft, mellow sound that is calm and soothing without ever slipping into melodramatic or depressing. On this album, he certainly sounds like a Troubadour—a singer who has had a long and varied career, but always manages to emerge that much better.

It would be easy to mistake Troubadour’s 12 songs for simple tracks, but his sound and songwriting prove otherwise. He’s enlisted a lot of outside songwriting help here, including Buddy Cannon and Monty Holmes, but the songs weave together into a calming, cohesive collection. Despite the number of people involved, the album keeps its attitude going all the way through: it’s a subdued, intimate album that sounds like the soundtrack to events you’ll want to remember. Strait stays true to his Texas roots for a reason: why mix it up when you do it so well?

Don’t Miss Tracks: “River of Love”, “It Was Me”

 

This Week in Music History (April 9th-15th)

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

4/9- On this day in 1977, ABBA scored its first US No. 1 hit on the Billboard singles chart with “Dancing Queen”. The song was the group’s 7th US Top 40 hit, and would also hit No. 1 in 13 other countries. 

4/10- On this day in 1956, Nat King Cole was attacked onstage while performing a show at the Municipal Hall in Birmingham, Alabama. The attackers were five racial segregationists looking to make a political statement. The group was arrested, and Cole returned to the stage later that night for a second show.

4/11- On this day in 1994, Oasis released their first single, “Supersonic”. Although the track peaked at No. 11 on the charts, it eventually sold over 215,000 copies, making it the band’s 13th highest-selling single.

4/12- On this day in 1954, Bill Haley recorded “Rock Around the Clock” at Pythian Temple studios in New York City. The song, which went on to become a worldwide No. 1 hit, is widely considered to be the track that began rock and roll’s rise to fame.

4/13- On this day in 1967, Nancy Sinatra and Frank Sinatra were No. 1 on the singles chart with “Somethin’ Stupid”, making them the only father and daughter team in history to have a No. 1 single. The song was originally written and recorded by folk singer C. Carson Parks.

4/14- On this day in 1969, Paul McCartney and John Lennon recorded “The Ballad of John and Yoko”. Lennon performed lead vocals and guitar, with McCartney on bass, drums and piano. After the song was released, many radio stations banned it because of its controversial lyrics.

4/15- On this day in 1972, Roberta Flack began a six-week run at No. 1 on the US singles chart with “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face”. The song, written in 1957 by Ewan MacColl, was featured in the Clint Eastwood film Play Misty For Me. 

Oh, so you wanna own these gems, and hear them in lossless format? Check out our CD marketplace where you can stream (mp3, FLAC) and download in your favorite format (mp3, acc, FLAC, and ALAC)!

5 disc-ripping fails: What you risk by digitizing your CD collection yourself

So, you’re thinking about digitizing that CD collection of yours. Before you rip away, there are a few things to consider before ripping your CDs at home, since the pitfalls are ones that could ruin your original goal of flawless work that is worthwhile.

There are many reasons why Murfie’s trusted service is ideal for music collectors who want perfect rips of their CDs, which they can download and stream. Murfie prevents the common drawbacks that arise when trying to rip at home.

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5. Wrong file format

It’s safe to say that many folks rip their CDs in mp3 format. While this format is the default on most drives, many people don’t realize that it compresses the music in a way that loses tiny details in the sound. Hence, it’s known as a “lossy” format.

The reason why some people compress music into to mp3 and other lossy formats is to save space. Discarding tiny bits of data is how this is achieved. This makes for a sound that is close to, yet not exactly identical, to the original recording.

Selecting the wrong format may also mean that your music won’t play on all of your devices. At Murfie, we rip and store the music from your CDs in lossless FLAC format, providing the flexibility to transcode to virtually any bit rate at any point in the future. Downloads in mp3, aac, and lossless formats FLAC and ALAC are included with all the CDs you send in. This means your music can bounce around all your devices, easily and without any manual conversion on your end.

4. Wrong bit rate

Even if you select the right file format, you’re still not out of the woods. Selecting the right bit rate (unit = bps) is important because it affects the amount of information processed per unit of time. More bits per second allows more details to be processed, making for higher quality sound.

Bit rate only applies to lossy formats (mp3 and aac) since lossless formats (FLAC and ALAC) make an exact replica of the original recording. Large music retailers like Amazon and iTunes provide digital music downloads in lossy 256 kbps mp3 and 256 kbps aac formats, respectively.

We’re fans of a higher default bit rate at Murfie, making for better quality sound. We use at least 320 kbps for mp3 downloads, and 320kbps for our standard free streaming. That’s a higher default rate than Amazon, iTunes and Spotify. 320 kbps streaming is available on Spotify, but with a premium paid membership. And as for Murfie’s paid premium streaming membership—well, that’s in lossless FLAC format, of course.

3. Errors/Incorrect Metadata

How do you know your rips are error free? Going back to listen to everything once you’ve ripped it and cross-checking track titles and album metadata against other sources will more than double the amount of time you’re spending on digitization. Every disc that’s ripped at Murfie is checked twice against our database to ensure all metadata like album title, artist name, and track names are correct. If Murfie does your ripping, you won’t have to worry about the unpleasant experience of putting your disc in a drive to find there is no metadata at all.

Metadata aside, Murfie uses AccurateRip to ensure the files themselves are seamless. We actually clean CDs that need to be cleaned, and polish CDs that have scratches. All this is to ensure error-free downloads and flawless streaming.

2. Data loss

Long-term, secure storage of your data is essential if you want your work to be worthwhile. Computer crashes, hard drive issues, theft, and other factors can be a nightmare for music collectors.

When your discs are ripped at Murfie, the original FLAC files are stored on our server, always available for you to request another download if your original is lost. Your discs can be stored in our secure facility in Madison, WI, alongside ~500K others that our members have already entrusted to us. With your original disc and FLAC files made available to you 24/7 for streaming and downloads, we’ve got the security of your discs covered in a way that goes above and beyond your average backup.

1. Your time

Time is money. Based on our calculations, a person can rip 10-20 discs per hour if they have one CD drive on their computer. That’s not counting any manual metadata entry and error checking.

Say you have 200 CDs in your collection. It would easily take you 10-20 hours to digitize everything. Is there something you’d rather be doing during the time it took to rip those discs? If your answer is no, check out these handy guides for ripping discs on Windows and Mac computers.

What’s your time worth? If you’re ripping at home, you can expect to process a maximum of 20 discs per hour. Again, time is money—and for 99¢/disc, Murfie can process your CDs for flawless streaming and downloads, shipping included. Let us do what we do best.

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Murfie is working to bring you uncompromised anywhere/anytime digital access to your music collection, in the highest quality possible. We’ll make your perfect ripped files available via downloads to your computer or hard drive, and via streaming to your iPhone, iPad, Android phone and tablet, web browser, and Sonos and other devices.

Do you have vinyl records that you want ripped too? Email info@murfie.com to learn more! Are you an all-round audiophile? Check out our lossless FLAC streaming available with Murfie HiFi.

Murfie is music collecting perfected. Request a shipping kit and begin your uncompromised collecting and listening experience!

sendcds

Xconomy’s Curt Woodward has a point…

Curt Woodward reviewed Murfie for Xconomy, and found some areas we need to work on.

First of all, I want to thank Curt for his review. It’s a thorough, fair, and objective take on Murfie from fresh eyes. Good stuff. Some bits of it make me cringe, but we find that sort of thing motivating – we’re obsessed with getting better.

This post is a reaction to and apology for the part of the piece that makes me cringe, and in coming days I’ll also write up some good news for Curt and anyone considering Murfie. Things already in the pipeline address some of his other points – we’re giving greater ease and flexibility for sending in discs, and improving our music player interfaces.

On to Curt’s experience. Anyone can shop at Murfie and buy new discs, customer accounts are free. That said, our core service for music collectors involves importing their existing CD collections and hosting them in Murfie’s cloud. That is a service members pay for. Curt’s review of Murfie therefore included trying that out by sending in a 25 CD kit, with which we gave out an automatic Gold Membership, and that’s where the trouble started.

Curt’s kit experience was far from ideal, and had one key frustration – he didn’t know yet if he wanted an ongoing membership at all, and yet he couldn’t opt out of the one we include with a kit. Since our memberships auto-renew by default and we handle subscription changes via our support desk, this constituted in Curt’s review an “insistence on getting me locked into an annual membership” with “no way to turn off the auto-renew on the Murfie website.”

OK. Yeah. Hmmm. I can’t disagree with that, and it does suck. It makes me feel bad that Curt found our service dodgy in this way, and he’s right to find it overly aggressive. We got this wrong. We should not ‘force’ an auto-renewing membership on someone who sends in a kit, or in fact at all. It’s also not reasonable at this stage in Murfie’s growth to have this be something customers can’t manage on the website.

Therefore, I apologize to Curt and every Murfie member for the lack of control on this up til now, and we’re going to do a few things to fix it:

1. We’ll clarify what paid membership is required for, and how many discs you can send in for free with one

2. We’ll make any membership that comes with a package or kit something you can decline

3. We’ll switch auto-renewal to an opt in anywhere a member buys or accepts a membership, add controls on the website for changing that setting, and keep the current warnings of upcoming renewal

We got here because our member collection hosting products are high touch and often involve some discussion with our customer. As we’ve grown we’ve always handled a lot of things via our support desk, because we have the greatest flexibility and agility that way, where we do our damnedest to satisfy each customer on any request. In this case that and our desire to make subscribing the default to help us grow led us astray. We should have added more user-control to subscription renewal a while ago, and we’ll do it now. I’ll let you and Curt know when it’s done.

Thanks,
Preston – Murfie Co-Founder

photo credit: hannah k