Staff Picks: Noah’s Pick

While watching the trailer for Joss Whedon’s new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, I found myself really enjoying the song playing in the background. A quick search on Google told me it was “Rose Rouge” by St. Germain. St Germain was a new name to me, but I was really pleased to have another great song on my favorites playlist.

A few weeks later, I was strolling through the legendary Amoeba Music in San Francisco on vacation when I spotted Tourist (the album containing “Rose Rouge”) on their “Favorites” wall. I didn’t buy it that day, but I remembered it when I got back home and decided to give it a listen.

MI0002424707I’ve seriously had this album on repeat for just about all of May. Tourist is one of those magical albums that suits any number of moods. It’s chill enough that I can work while listening to it and not get distracted. It’s energetic enough to wake me up in the morning. It’s rhythmic enough that I can dance around my apartment with it on.

Tourist covers a lot of ground in its nine tracks. While it’s a combination of electronica and jazz, it manages to avoid the pitfalls of many of the albums that have attempted similar couplings.

Part of this has to do with Ludovic Navarre (the man behind St. Germain)’s skill at creating new, cohesive sound from a variety of sources; part of it has to do with a careful balance Navarre strikes between the cocktail party-ready jams and the slow burners that simmer when the party’s boiled down to you and that special someone.

Marlena Shaw’s “Woman of the Ghetto” vocal sample and infectious horn solos make “Rose Rouge” a gorgeous and emphatic opener. “So Flute” is seven minutes of pure ecstasy in the form of a flute solo that should be bowed down to and worshiped. The rest of the album is filled with gems for just about every taste.

My favorite track right now, though, is “Sure Thing,” which samples a deep cut from John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis. The pained, bluesy vocals singing “that ain’t right” over a throbbing beat create a lush atmosphere.  It’s a modern version of the classic, sensual songs that have long provided the soundtracks to our love stories.

It goes without saying that you should give this album a listen. Luckily for you, you can get it on Murfie for (last I checked) a sinful $3!

Staff Picks: Electronica

This week we like…Electronica

To honor the launch of our new digital music download function, this week’s Staff Picks is dedicated to the best of our Electronica collection.  Like Murfie, all of these albums are a surprising mix of digital and analog, and all are excellent. 

Thievery Corporation: “The Richest Man in Babylon”

HTML tutorialThis Washington, D.C.-based DJ duo draws on reggae, dub, middle eastern, and bossa nova influences and distills them into a suave, psychedelic electro-lounge sound.  “The Richest Man in Babylon” was produced with the help of a cadre of international singers and session musicians, and includes songs in French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Persian.

Morcheeba: “The Big Calm”

Morcheeba was started in the mid-90s in Britain by brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey and vocalist Skye Edwards.  After establishing a modish, trip-hop aesthetic with their first album, “Who Can You Trust,” the group expanded on their Rhodes-based, downtempo sound with the release of “The Big Calm,” a more sunny, pop-influenced album.  This album includes the single “The Sea,” which saw minor success on radio and television.

Portishead: “Portishead”

HTML tutorialAnother British electronica group, Portishead displays a considerably darker and less polished sound than the other offerings here.  Their 1997 self-titled album was released after three years of media aversion, and spawned several highly regarded singles.  The video for one of these singles, “Only You,” was produced by Chris Cunningham, and remains one of the most haunting music videos of the 1990s.

Daft Punk: “Homework”

“Homework” is the debut album of French duo Daft Punk, and easily the liveliest of the albums presented here.  Mixing influences ranging from 80’s Disco to Detroit and Chicago House culture to FM radio compression algorithms, this album is a squiggly, bouncing, thumping ode to electronic dance music.