Elephant Revival Interview

Elephant Revival is a band that blends folk music with bluegrass, celtic music, psychedelic country, indie rock, and occasionally, even reggae and hip hop. Even with so many different sounds in their songs, they retain a style that is distinctly their own—mostly because of their wonderful vocals and environmentally conscious themes. Since 2006, they’ve been building a solid fan base around the country, and are about to embark on a Midwest tour. On September 28th, they’ll be playing at the Majestic Theatre in Madison, just a skip away from Murfie HQ—so we thought the time was perfect to learn a bit more about them! Here’s a Q&A I had with Dan Rodriguez (acoustic guitar, electric banjo/guitar, vocals). We talked via phone from his friend’s studio in Boulder, Colorado:

K: I see you guys are from Nederland, Colorado!

D: Yeah. We started there, and we all lived there for a handful of years. Just recently Sage moved back to Kansas to the family farm. So we’re not all living in Nederland now, but we still consider ourselves a Nederland band.

K: I actually visited that place for the first time last year for Nedfest—have you gone to that?

D: I’ve gone to it many times, and performed there a few times too. It’s a hometown fest!

K: Nederland is a funky little town, there’s mountains and taverns and flannel—I love it. And the people are really nice. One thing I like about your band is it’s a co-ed band, a mix of guys and girls. Have you found that it brings a certain energy to the band?

D: I certainly couldn’t imagine it any differently. The men and the women—the kind of alchemy that happens—it’s just been such an integral part of everything. It’s just a big part of our sound and part of the vibe.

K: So you all are coming to Madison on September 28th —do you have shows in between then?

D: Yeah, we do. We have one in Minneapolis, at the Cedar Cultural Center, and then we play Boats and Bluegrass Festival in Winona, Minnesota, then we play Ames, Iowa, and then we’re in Madison.

K: Have you had some good luck touring in the past? Do you like to travel around for shows?

Continue reading Elephant Revival Interview

Album Preview: “Sand + Silence” by The Rosebuds

Sand + SilenceAlbum
Sand + Silence

Artist
The Rosebuds

Release Date
August 5, 2014

Label
Western Vinyl

Pre-order Link
Pre-order Album

Preview
The Rosebuds Make OutThe Rosebuds, a dance-folk duo out of North Carolina, formed their marriage and musical endeavor in 2001. Composed of Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, the duo was recognized by local indie label Merge Records two short years later, and subsequently released their debut record, The Rosebuds Make Out.

Gayngs RelaytedWhile the band has been prolific throughout their tenure, releasing six full lengths and three digital LPs in eleven years, they’ve worked tirelessly with other groups as well. In 2010, Howard contritubed his skills to Midwestern R&B supergroup Gayngs‘ only release thus-far, Relayted. And in 2011, The duo also toured with Bon Iver behind their enormous release, Bon Iver, Bon Iver.

Bon Iver, Bon IverJust before the release of their fifth LP, 2011’s emotionally devastating Loud Planes Fly Low, the husband and wife announced they had filed for divorce. While the divorce would surely mark the demise of other music groups, Howard and Crisp have continued to make music together. Next week marks a new chapter for the duo, as they’re set to release Sand + Silence, their first album since the split and the first for for their new label, Western Vinyl.

A teaser from Sand + Silence:

Pre-order your copy of Sand + Silence on Murfie! Each CD comes with unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC. 

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 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”

John’s Pick: Allison Weiss Was Right All Along!

If you have heard the name Allison Weiss before, then you probably already know her story. When she was fifteen, she began playing guitar to impress a boy in her creative writing class. Several years, a profile on every social networking site you could imagine and over a million YouTube views later, Allison Weiss continues to build an ever-increasing fanbase.  Her 2009 album …Was Right All Along is without a doubt the release that made my subscription to her channel pay off.

Any Allison Weiss fan will have seen a number – if not all – of her solo acoustic YouTube videos, featuring originals and covers. If you are hoping for a studio-quality album of these solo pieces, you will probably be disappointed. Instead, we are treated to full band, fleshed out versions of some really great songs – something Weiss continues to do with newer releases.  To fund the album, Allison Weiss used the crowd-sourcing pledge site Kickstarter.com, raising nearly eight thousand dollars – almost 400% her original goal. And you can hear every penny in the tracks. With …Was Right All Along, Allison Weiss’ sound changed from that of a hobbyist to that of a professional musician, and that trend continues today.

There are a few places on the album where one could nitpick (for example: the ebow on “Ghost Stories” just sounds off for some reason), but a number of the tracks reward the listener for each additional play. “You + Me + Alcohol”, “Fingers Crossed” and “Let’s Leave” steal the show in this department. “You + Me + Alcohol” may not be the most poetic of Allison Weiss’ large repertoire of songs, but it is just so damn fun to listen to and sing along.

The album features an extended band for most tracks, but it certainly does not entirely ignore the solo acoustic pieces that captivated most fans in the first place. “I Was An Island” (a personal favorite of mine) eases the listener in by slowly building on Allison Weiss’ solo acoustic guitar. It serves as a fitting transition, taking the listener from behind a webcam and into the studio. The second track on the album, “Fingers Crossed”, shows exactly how much Allison Weiss’ sound improved in the first few years of her career.

Interested in checking it out for yourself?  You’re in luck!  …Was Right All Along is available on Murfie for only $2.00!  Act quick, because it’s a steal.

Interview with Charlie Parr [PODCAST]

Charlie Parr, a respected country blues musician, was kind enough to give us a phone interview. Check it out below, and make sure to also check out his newest album Keep Your Hands on the Plow.

Charlie Parr Keep Your Hands on the PlowWho: Charlie Parr; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
What: The self-taught musician: Where he comes from and where he’s going.
Where: Madison, WI
When: Monday, April 9, 2012
How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach
File: mp3 version

Like what you heard? Browse Charlie Parr’s albums on Murfie.

Check out more of Charlie at www.charlieparr.com.

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