Meet Brandon: Murfie’s New Help Desk Manager!

This is Kayla writing this post! This month marks my fourth year at Murfie. First of all—wow, that’s exciting! Secondly—wow, things have really changed!

I began working in Operations, ripping discs and handling downloads. My previous experience in radio made me fit to create and host the Murfie Podcast. From there, I started doing more social media and PR for the company. And naturally, that’s where my role took off. I had been running the Murfie Help Desk too, but now it’s time to hand off that role to a qualified candidate, so that I can zero in on the social side of things.

And that qualified candidate is without a doubt Brandon. I went to the higher-ups with confidence that Brandon cared about the individual needs of members enough to be a great person for the job. However….can he really fill MY shoes? I had to ask him a few questions to put him on the spot. :)

K: Tell everyone a bit about yourself!

B: I am 21 years old and was born in Madison, WI. I’ve lived in Chicago, Boston, and Washington D.C. before moving back here. My hobbies include playing guitar and saxophone, painting, and enjoying video games. My favorite place to travel is the woods of British Columbia—so serene! My favorite music is electronic, classical, classic rock, and indie.

K: What do you like about working at Murfie?

B: For me, the best part about working at Murfie is discovering new music! I’ve come across LOADS of albums, either through co-workers or just browsing members’ shops, that have greatly broadened my horizons musically.

K: Why are you a good fit to run our Help Desk?

B: I’m a good fit to run our help desk because I specialize in Operations, which means I can facilitate the problem-solving process. Plus, I truly care about the needs of our members….I love the site as much as they do!

K: So, do you think you can fill my shoes? 

B: Yes! You have shown me the ropes, and I’m ready to help our members get the very best in customer support!

Brandon is ready to help with all your Murfie needs—contact him through our Help Desk and say hello! :) 

Album Review: “Lantern” by Hudson Mohawke

Hudson Mohawke Lantern

Lantern
Released: June 16th, 2015
Reviewed by Erik Wermuth
Rating: 3/5

Almost two years ago, when Jay-Z’s album Magna Carta Holy Grail dropped, Hudson Mohawke tweeted that “This record could’ve came out 10 yrs ago and no one would’ve batted an eye lid”. Admittedly, the Glasgow native had submitted several beats for consideration that Jay-Z ultimately decided not to use. It should be fairly obvious that he was not in a neutral headspace about the album when it dropped, but the critique highlights one of the central conflicts in music today: now that the technology for production and distribution has advanced to the point where anyone with a computer and some time on their hands can put out a body of work, why does so much of it still sound so much the same?

It would be tempting to use Mohawke’s own words against him and his latest release, the LP Lantern, but that would be both cheap and incorrect. 10 years ago, his style alone would have (and did) raise eyebrows. After a series of mixtapes and a reality TV talent-search appearance in the mid-to-late 2000’s, the happy trapper (trappist?) started gaining a significant amount of traction, especially for an unheralded teenager out of Scotland. The work he produced during this period was hard-hitting enough to send club crowds over the edge, while providing enough passion and innovation to keep critical listeners coming back for more.

The unique blend of happy-hardcore intensity and trap rhythms that dominated his music in the last decade culminated in the prestigious Warp Records releasing his first LP Butter in 2009. The album’s combination of creative power and head-nodding accessibility made it a critical success that led to high-profile collaborations with the Canadian producer Lunice as the duo TNGHT and with Kanye West on his Yeezus album, both of which vastly increased his popularity with American listeners. It is within the context of his meteoric rise to fame and its aftermath that his most recent album Lantern must be understood.

Hud Mo is clearly a very talented producer, and nothing in Lantern shakes my faith in that. He has his sound down tight. After making waves in December with his contributions to the Rap Monument, he’s moved away from hip-hop/rap to a more R&B/soul-centered approach, particularly in terms of the artists he features such as Jhene and Antony Hegarty. He interviewed extensively in the lead-up to his sophomore effort’s release, stating again and again that he wanted to get away from his status as a trap god and move on to more interesting musical territory. This impulse, in and of itself, is an essential one for any musician who wants to develop his art. Sadly, instead of moving in new creative directions, the album sounds like a watered down version of his earlier works. Lantern lacks the immediacy and creative urgency that made early Hudson Mohawke so compelling. There are, of course, some exceptions: “Scud Books” is a strong, triumphal track, “Ryderz” has something of his old Saturday morning whimsy, and “Lil Djembe” is a short, but punchy beat that has flashes of his old brilliance. However, while none of these would be out of place in his earlier work, none measure up to the expectation of excellence he has established for himself.

Hud Mo achieved success by taking opposing genres and binding them into something greater than the individual components. Butter was so magical because he lashed two dominating musical forces together without losing the purity or energy of either. It drew praise for its accessibility, but it’s important to remember that being able to access something only matters if the content is worth accessing. Like all the best electronic music, Butter burst with inventiveness and left the listener with a real sense of passion– even when it grated, its freshness and originality were never in doubt. But praise can be toxic if misdirected, and I worry that Hud Mo heard too much about how surprisingly listenable Butter was and decided to move only in that direction on Lantern. The listener is still treated to the occasional whining treble and high hat nod to trap roots, but they serve more as a sad reminder of what was than as the basis for an exciting new direction.

Ultimately, Lantern is still a solid album by a great producer. Had it come out ten years ago, eyelids would definitely have batted. 5 years ago, less so. Coming out today it sounds like one long compromise to pop sensibilities, some of which Mohawke himself helped to create—a canned production of known quantities. The creative verve that was beneath the surface of all his releases from his first EP LuckyMe in 2005 to Butter in 2009 is mostly a no-show. The taming of his trap sensibilities that Lantern represents was a major disappointment, mostly because of how high of a bar he had set for himself. At best it represents stagnation for one of the world’s premiere electronic artists and at worst it marks the beginning of a long, slow creative death. As a cutting-edge producer, if mainstream news outlets are describing your new work as lush, listenable lounge music, it’s a safe bet that you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line. That being said, this is only his second solo album, and his side work has remained impeccable. Here’s to hoping Hud Mo can right the ship. I give Lantern an uninspired 3/5.

Murfie in the 2015 MAMAs!

It’s that time of year…time for our local Madison Area Music Awards!

Murfie is nominated for two categories, and two of our Murfie staffers (John and Kayla) hold nominations! We’d love it if you can vote for us!

Local Music Publication/Blog: Murfie Blog

Local Recorded Music Store: Murfie

John

– Artist of the Year: Nude Human
– Electronic Song: Is Is Is Not Is Not (Zanarkand) – Nude Human
– Unique Song: Is Is Is Not Is Not (Zanarkand) – Nude Human
– Electronic Album: Lupus Non Mordet Lupum – Nude Human
– Unique Album: Lupus Non Mordet Lupum – Nude Human
– Electronic Performer: Nude Human
– Unique Performer: Nude Human
– Male Vocalist: John Praw
– Specialty Instrument: Pat Reinholz – Nude Human
– Strings: Pat Reinholz – Nude Human

Kayla 

– DJ: Kayla Kush
– Local Music Radio Personality: Kayla Kush
– Local Music Radio Station: WSUM

You’ll need to register to vote. Click “Fan Membership” at www.broadjam.com/mama/index.php to get started. The $5 donation to register is for a great cause—providing instruments and education to Madison youth who want to pursue music.

About voting:
– In this preliminary round, you need to pick three in each category
– Jump to any category in the left sidebar (you’re not required to vote in all categories)
– Click “Submit” after each category to save your votes
– 1st round of voting ends March 9th – we’ll let you know if we made it to finals!

Vote Now!

New to Me: Newly-found music gems (Vol III)

Don’t you just love discovering old music? It’s great finding an album that’s been around a while, and seeing how it can resonate with you in life right now.

That happens a lot on Murfie, since there are so many used albums in the $1 – $5 range that are easy to gobble up! Check out some of our favorites…

ErasureBrandon found Erasure by Erasure

“I’d heard of Erasure many times but never actually listened to any of their music (outside of ‘Always’, the theme music from the video game Robot Unicorn Attack). This album had me hooked after track two! There are dance-y tracks and down-tempo grooves, featuring rich vocals and fascinating electronic elements and harmonies.”

The Melody at Night with You Keith JarrettAndrew found The Melody at Night, with You by Keith Jarrett

“I hadn’t heard of Keith Jarrett until I ripped some of his albums for a vinyl kit. I didn’t think much of it until I recognized some of the melodies as samples on a mixtape I’ve really been digging lately. After checking out some of his other albums, I realized that he’s an extraordinary pianist and an even more remarkable composer.”

Mescalito Ryan BinghamJeff found Mescalito by Ryan Bingham

“I heard this guy like, yesterday and was really floored. I don’t listen to a ton of Western-ish stuff and it may have my bleary state of mind. Apparently he sang the theme song from the film Crazy Heart, starring ‘The Dude’ Jeff Bridges.”

The Miseducation of Lauryn HillKayla found The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill

“I’m late to get on the Lauryn Hill bus. After coming across this album on many ‘Best Of’ lists, I decided to give it a try, and I ended up really liking it. I’m impressed by Lauryn’s rhymes and the topics she focuses on, some of which are aimed at women from a woman’s perspective, which is great to hear in R&B. This album contains the catchy song ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’.”

Have you found something that’s not all-that-new? Let us know in the comments!