#FreeFriday: The Rhumb Line

Time for our third 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 featured album…

Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line

The Rhumb Line (Ra Ra Riot, 2008)

Different doesn’t necessarily mean good. I once tried to convince my friends that my root vegetable pancakes would taste awesome, but found that significant twists on traditional methods should be handled with great care (and much less allspice). When Ra Ra Riot decided to mix up the standard pop/rock recipe and layer cello and violin over a standard four-piece, they too faced the challenge of overcoming the ground-in tastes of tradition, but their results were much more tasteful than my heavy-handed attempt at making a meal of cupboard scraps when I should have just gone to the grocery store.

The Rhumb Line, Ra Ra Riot’s first full-length release, is a beautiful mélange of seemingly contradictory flavors. Frontman Wes Miles’ voice is equally well suited for dramatically stretching notes (like on “Oh, La”) as it is for playfully harmonizing with the bands’ several backup singers as it does on “Ghost Under Rocks”. He also has just the voice for covering Kate Bush‘s single “Suspended in Gaffa.” One would expect the 80’s basslines of “Run My Mouth” and synth riffs of “Too Too Too Fast” to clash with the classical elements of the band, but instead their rhythm creates a wonderful background for the sweeping strings that drive most of their songs. It’s a wonder that there’s any room left for different accents with all these tastes on the listener’s palate, but Ra Ra dares to blend in some rock and roll undertones with an electric guitar and a well-handled drum kit. The overall result is a delectable chamber pop dish infused with contemporary indie rock.

Connoisseurs of the genre may already know the group for their involvement with independent superstars Vampire Weekend. Wes Miles joined with VW’s keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij in 2005 to form Discovery, an excellent electronic group that unfortunately only has one LP to their name. He was also childhood friends with lead singer Ezra Koenig and even starred in a short film Koenig made in college.

If you haven’t heard it already, you should definitely give The Rhumb Line a listen. It’s a nice treat for springtime, and who can argue with free music?

Share this post in one of the ways listed above for a chance to win a copy of The Rhumb Line, and we’ll let you know if you’re the winner next week! 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.

The Easy Breezy Art of Music Discovery

Today, I got a special video treat in my inbox. An acoustic cover of “Skinny Love” by indie folk band Bon Iver. (An aside. The city of Eau Claire must be so proud. Ahem ahem, FOUR Grammy nominations for Wisconsin native Justin Vernon and the rest of the super-talented gang. Four nominations! More than Lady Gaga [3]!) Wait, where was I? Got a bit off track. Oh yes, an acoustic cover of “Skinny Love” arrived in my inbox today…from Melissa Faulkner, a Murfie staffer who also happens to have a purdy voice. See for yourself…

YAY, Melissa! (AND Kris Roug!)

Honestly, you guys, it’s ridiculous how easy YouTube has made finding new music and artists. There’s so much untapped talent, and it’s pretty darn fun finding the next big thing first (who doesn’t like being ahead of the curve?!). I, myself, have freely trolled YouTube and other video-sharing sites for homemade music videos. I’m betting y’all have too. So, tell me – who’s the greatest, unsigned musician out there?