Staff picks: Spring Edition!

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Spring began Monday, March 20th this year, but it wasn’t until this week we really began to feel it. The birds are chirping, the clouds are shapely and voluminous, and with all the rain we’ve been experiencing in Madison the grass has finally started to turn green.

The world is alive and we have fresh ideas about how we’ll spend our summers. For us music lovers, you can guarantee a lot of time will be spent listening to our favorite albums,  kicking back, enjoying barbecued meat and craft beer with friends and family.

However you enjoy your time this spring and summer, on the golf course, at the park or in your own backyard, make sure you have the right tunes in your proverbial jukebox. Below is a list of staff picks we thought you might enjoy…

Steven chose Sabotage by Black Sabbath

sabotage

“Sabbath truly is one of the bands that started it all. When it comes to modern doom metal/sludge metal/stoner rock, Sabotage is one of my favorites in their discography. It also takes the cake as my second favorite Black Sabbath album cover (the self-titled being the obvious first choice).”

 

Nate chose Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips

flaming lips

“Released in 2002, this album features electronic-influenced, psychedelic, indie rock compositions. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots tells a story of how Yoshimi battles mechanical monsters, drawing on a wide range of emotions. It is a great album to turn on when in a melancholy mood and take in the beautiful tracks. Fun fact, it was later turned into a musical in 2012!” 

Jason chose Kala by M.I.A.

kala

“The first time I heard M.I.A.’s song “Paper Planes” off her album ‘Kala’, I was watching Slumdog Millionaire in theaters. It was one of those rare occurrences when I was so captivated by a song in a movie I went out and bought the album.  M.I.A.’s music is pop, but it is soulful, artsy and perfectly imperfect. To this day I see Kala as a shining beacon in a sea of cookie cutter pop albums.”

Maren chose Soundtrack to the End by Communist Daughter

communist daughter

“The debut release from indie rock band, Communist Daughter (St. Paul, MN), will sooth your soul, quiet your mind, and set your feet to dancing. It’s simply aural bliss.” 

 

 

Andrew chose Psychocandy by The Jesus and Mary Chain

psychocandy

“I gotta say I only picked this because “Just Like Honey” came on the radio this morning. The fuzzy guitars and lackadaisical vocals were the perfect backdrop to an otherwise quite drab commute on this rainy spring day.”

 

 

What suggestions do you have for our listeners? Please let us know if there are any albums you think people should know about and we will do our best to spread the word!

We hope you enjoy our picks and as always, check out Murfie.com for other great albums!

Sounds Like Colorado: The Best of the Centennial State

Last time, we brought you the best music that the Golden State has to offer. This week, it’s time to crank up the altitude. This week, check out reviews of two of Colorado’s native bands!

The Lumineers
The Lumineers

With this album, The Lumineers have created something that’s immediately fun and gratifying. There’s no adjustment period here—from the very first track, you’re hooked on the band’s strings, drums and folk-y sound. Unlike others in the recent folk revival, however, The Lumineers consistently keep the sound fresh.

Although this album is practically overflowing with upbeat tracks, The Lumineers don’t skimp on lyrical content. There’s great feel-good material here, notably on tracks like “Flowers in Your Hair”, but the band really shines when it works a little sadness in with all the Americana vibes. The real power lies in tracks like “Slow it Down”, which let the band’s somber side show.

One of the most wonderful things about this album is its ability to mix in numerous elements without ever sounding overcooked. The Lumineers seamlessly incorporate unusual instruments and chords without ever pushing it too far. Such creativity even on a debut album stirs up hope for even better material to come.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Dead Sea”, “Slow it Down”

John Denver
The Essential John Denver

When John Denver died in a plane crash in 1997 at 53, he left behind a career of creating music that evokes images of his home state of Colorado. The Essential John Denver is a collection of Denver’s greatest hits and highest points, giving his fans the best possible tracklist to remember him by. This album does Denver’s career—and his legacy—justice.

The album includes the songs that captured the ears—and hearts—of Denver’s fan base. As Denver ascended to musical stardom, he did so by perfecting fresh, folky sound with beautiful orchestration and a heartfelt, genuine feel. Famous Denver gems like “Sunshine on My Shoulders” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane” show Denver’s range—he transitions from soft string arrangements to somber piano tracks seamlessly.

As a Colorado native, Denver was deeply inspired by the nature around him. “Windsong” plays like a tribute to his home state. Denver’s love for the natural world remains clear on “Rocky Mountain High” and “Take Me Home Country Roads”, one of his best-known tracks.

For existing Denver fans and those interested in getting a quick taste of his music, this album is an excellent collection of his finest. There are no unnecessary tracks here, just a strong collection tat showcases John Denver’s range of material. An excellent slice of one of America’s finest.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Leaving, On a Jet Plane”, “Sunshine on My Shoulders”

Paper Bird
Rooms

Listen to Paper Bird’s Rooms with an open mind. This seven-piece band from Denver certainly knows how to create an unusual sound. The band mixes unexpected world beat rhythms and seamless harmonies with occasional psychedelia, resulting in a sound that is 100% their own.

For this band, the benefit of having so many members is the incredible effect that their voices and instrumentation make when they come together. Individually their voices might not stand out, but together they build a unique, colorful and layered feeling.  The album was recorded live, which only enhances this effect—it creates a live show feel without sacrificing sound quality.

This album keeps changing things up as it progresses, with each new track delving in to its own influences. “Seaside Lullaby” is fragile, light folk music, while “Blood and Bones” is a rocking track with guitar chords, stronger vocals and a country-rock beat. This album is a sure way to mix up your music library and introduce a bit of unpredictability into your day.

Don’t Miss Tracks: “Blood and Bones”, “As I Am”

The Best Albums of 2013

With 2013 coming to a close, it’s time to hear what our Murfie staffers have to say about the best albums that were released this year.

Innocents – Moby

Everything by Moby is pretty much awesome. He manages to evolve his style with each album while still appealing to his core fan base.
-Tiffany

On the Move – Kiwi

I’ve spent a lot of time in the Caribbean, so I’m always looking for new sources of great reggae music. A colleague of mine at Murfie turned me onto Kiwi. They do an amazing job of mixing in traditional rhythms and chords with a few modern twists.
-Matt

Kings and Queens – John Brown’s Body

This is hard-hitting future roots reggae with elements of rock, rap and electronic. The buzz around this album is well earned—it’s arguably JBB’s best album ever during their 18-year career.
-Kayla

Pure Heroine – Lorde

“Royals” blew up the radio, but the rest of this album is pretty awesome. Check out “Team”. This really stands out as something different this year. Also, she is only 16!
-Steve

Silence Yourself – Savages

Just relentless intensity rarely seen outside of hardcore or metal. Equally desperate and commanding.
-Jeff

Baths – Obsidian

Obsidian takes some of the best elements of Will Wiesenfeld’s debut Cerulean and reinvents them in such a way as to broaden the range of genres you’d expect to hear from him. Unlike Wiesenfeld’s other work, this material could be played by a band and proves that he’s not just a DJ behind all his gear. There were a lot of albums out this year that I absolutely loved, but this was one that I came back to over and over again.
-John

Next up is 2014! Let’s see what we get :-)

#ThrowbackThursday (10/2/13)

It’s Thursday, so you know what means…it’s time to share some #ThrowbackThursday picks from Murfie! Is there anything you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments, or send us a tweet @murfiemusic with the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday!

Puss/Oh, The Guilt
Jesus Lizard/Nirvana
Jeff: “In honor of the 20th anniversary of In Utero, this Nirvana/Jesus Lizard split filled the lonely gap between proper albums. ‘Puss’ is maybe the best Jesus Lizard song, likely the only recorded use of a cigarette lighter as percussion instrument on ‘Oh, the Guilt’. What can I even say about that cover?”

Killer on the Rampage
Eddy Grant
Tiffany: “For whatever reason, I loved the song ‘Electric Avenue’ when I was 8. I don’t like reggae now, so I have no idea why. But, I insisted that my mom buy me what became my first vinyl album.”

The Best of Blondie
Blondie
Noah: “At age 6 during long car rides, I used to sing along to ‘Call Me’ and ‘One Way or Another’ and pretend to be Debbie Harry. This album was probably more of a formative life influence than I give it credit for.”

1984
Van Halen
Jason: “Trolling the elementary school playground, Van Halen’s 1984 distortedly blasted out of a one-speaker Panasonic cassette boombox provided the perfect counterpoint to Quiet Riot’s Metal Health.”

Even Now
Barry Manilow
Matt: “Barry can belt it out with the best of ’em—that much was apparent, even on my mom’s eight track. ‘Copacabana’ is still a terrific dance track, whether off the original album or as part of the many remixes.”

Kayla: “This album was amazing to 13-year-old me, and is still amazing today. Tyson Ritter’s songs are mostly about heartbreak (but I love you, Tyson!). Definitely listen to ‘The Last Song’, it’s so rockin’.”
Leah: “This album is just so sing-along-worthy: from the ultra-cathartic ‘Say It Ain’t So’ to the melancholy ‘The World Has Turned and Left Me Here’ and the rollicking power chords of ‘My Name is Jonas,’ Weezer’s ‘blue album’ is an insanely catchy and fun throwback.”

Staff Picks: Ally’s Picks

As a Murfie newbie in an office populated by seasoned music lovers and audiophiles, I thought there was no better way to make my introduction to Murfie’s blogosphere than to make my own musical statement. Now, it’s worth noting that though I may be young, I don’t tend to be the Murfian digging up the next big thing. I’m a believer in my own tried and true—the bands that have continued to narrate my life by never failing to make music that just sounds right.  I’m the kid you went to elementary school with who just wouldn’t ditch his blankie: when something’s right, I never want to let go.

6334-largeKid A by Radiohead

As a die-hard Radiohead worshipper, it’s rare to find a Radiohead album I don’t like. Kid A, however, occupies its own musical universe. It’s music that gets under your skin, a paradoxical listening experience that’s quiet and cacophonous at the same time. Thom Yorke’s famous alien-esque vocals lend an ethereal feel to the album, giving you 48 minutes of a complicated, slightly unsettling dream. At the end of those 48 minutes and after tracks like “Everything in Its Right Place” and “Idioteque”, you’re left amazed that this album was created in a studio. What makes Radiohead the greatest band on earth is exactly that: every track sounds like the product of some unearthly time and space—and leaves you longing to learn more.

5710-largeWhite Blood Cells by The White Stripes

This album is not only at the top of my most played albums list; it so far exceeds the second place finisher that it feels like a natural, if not inevitable, fit on my staff picks. Without a single dud of a song, White Blood Cells has become as natural a part of my day as breathing (and certainly more natural than waking up in the morning). The White Stripes don’t have much instrumental variety—they love their guitar and drums—but there’s something about the way they handle them that takes this album to another level. It’s rock and it’s blues and it’s gritty and hard, but it also has the variety and sentiment to make you feel each song right along with them. And feel you do—tracks like “The Union Forever” and “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known” illustrate Jack and Meg White’s mastery of imparting endless meaning into succinct songs. Their endlessly interesting take on rock keeps me pressing “play” over and over again.

Staff Picks: We’ve Got Good Taste!

The Murfie marketplace is packed with hundreds and thousands of CDs for sale. So the big question is: Where do you start?

We’ve got some recommendations for you! (Did you know that a bunch of music buffs work here?) ;-)

We think you should check out our Staff Picks Cool Collection! It’s packed with great recommendations from our diverse team—which is made up of indie music lovers, classic rock addicts, reggae enthusiasts (*points to self*), and just about everything else.

A bunch of new albums have been added today, set at prices that can’t be beat. Go find your new favorite!

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Daniella’s Picks

Athens, GA has long been a hub of amazing music, most notably The B-52’s and R.E.M. But in the last 15 years, this southern town has continued to pump out some amazing tunes (you can’t mention Athens, GA without talking about the Elephant Six Collective).  Here are some of my favorites!

In the Aeroplane Over the SeaIn the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel has been on countless “Best of” lists. Most agree that this is one of the best indie rock albums of all time. Jeff Mangum’s amazing lyrics, beautiful mixture of all sorts of different instruments (including the musical saw, banjo, accordion, organ, flugelhorn, zanzithophone, and of course the guitar), and the richness of the sound make this record completely unique.

Aldhils ArboretumAldhils Arboretum by Of Montreal is full of all sorts of solidly well written and funny pop songs. This record came out in 2002. Since then, Of Montreal has changed up their sound, but if you’re into some catchy psychedelic pop you’ll love this one. Also, “Kissing in the Grass” is one of the sweetest songs ever written. Swoon!

Apples in StereoNew Magnetic Wonder by The Apples in Stereo can be praised for both their musical and mathematical genius. Frontman Robert Schneider invented a new musical scale which you can hear in Track 11, “Non-Pythagorean Composition 1″. It’s kind of cool for music theory geeks to ponder over. Robert is now studying to get his PhD in analytic number theory, so I’m sure we’ve got more pop/math music to look forward to in the future! The music is the feel-goodest of feel good music. Can’t really feel bummed out when listening to “Energy”.