Murfie’s Year-End List: Favorite Albums of 2014

Time for us to give you some real information about the most impressive albums that came out this year. This is an eclectic list of the music that genuinely stands out to us for all kinds of reasons. If you don’t know, there are many musicians, music buffs, and music lovers that work here at Murfie, and our recommendations are not influenced from outside sources—they’re coming straight from the heart!

Here are the albums that we consider the absolute best of 2014.

Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy

This is only his third album, and it’s been eight years since his last. The album was produced by Rick Rubin and it pretty much continues where he left off. – Pete

Eric Hutchinson – Pure Fiction

Great vocals and feel-good instrumentals are present on just about every track on this album. Play Pure Fiction anytime you want to put a smile on your face. – Matt

Fartbarf – Dirty Power

I first learned of Fartbarf putting together a list of preorders earlier this year. With a stupid name like that, I had to know what was going on. Listening to Dirty Power, I was shocked to learn Fartbarf was an impressive, dirty analog vocoder synth rock band, and not a terrible metal or punk band of some sort. This album was the biggest surprise of 2014 for me. – John

The Flaming Lips – With a Little Help From My Fwends

Come on, who doesn’t love the original Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? The Flaming Lips have given us a new twist on the classic, full of their signature (and awesome) sonic extravagance. – Brandon

FKA Twigs – LP1

This was the year I really got into FKA Twigs and a lot of her contemporaries. There was a huge influx of creative production and sound design in 2014, and FKA Twigs was a solid part of that. While I enjoyed her two previous EPs a bit more than LP1, I still really looked forward to this album. I was not disappointed. – John

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – Steady

Check out GPGDS if you haven’t already—for real! Their music blends elements of roots reggae with totally fun, bouncy jam rock. Most importantly, their lyrics are socially conscious. The energy at their shows is amazing, along with their ability to give you an uplifting and psychedelic experience caused by their dubby vibrations alone. This studio album is equally awesome to their live persona, and listening to it makes you feel like you’ve teleported to a venue where they’re playing. – Kayla

John Frusciante – Enclosure

John Frusciante shows again he can do so much more than we expected. A bold departure from the sweeping melodies of 2009’s The Empyrean. – Brandon

John Luther Adams – Become Ocean

If you want to know more about Become Ocean, check out my full review. As I mention in the review, I learned about John Luther Adams’ work via the excellent podcast Radiolab. I’ve been listening to Become Ocean regularly since. It’s an astonishing feat of orchestration, and it’s hard to recommend anything this year over it. – John

Phantogram – Voices

Phantogram has definitely expanded their horizons. Eleven tracks with distinct voices, all uniquely groovy. – Brandon

tUnE-yArDs – Nikki-Nack

There is probably nothing I’ve listened to as much this year as tUnE-yArDs’ newest album Nikki-Nack. I’ve been a fan of Merrill Garbus’ completely unique songwriting and structure for years, but I think Nikki-Nack is really the album that has cemented her in the public eye as a master of her craft. Seeing tUnE-yArDs play live on King Street was also one of my most memorable shows of the year. – John

Thanks to all our members for making this a great 2014. We’re excited for what’s to come in 2015! Have a happy and safe New Year everyone!

xoxo
The crew at Murfie

Thankful for Music!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we at Murfie wanted to share some music that we’re most thankful for. Music is what we’re all about—we listen to it all the time at work, at home, and everywhere. Here are the bands and genres that we couldn’t possibly live without.

Matt is thankful for Latin Jazz.

“I’m quite thankful for latin jazz. I’ve always been fascinated with the intricate rhythms and thick chord structures present in the genre. Plus, the music is downright fun. I had the privilege of taking in one Tito Puente‘s final concerts, and have been hooked for life. As a piano player, most of my favorite latin jazz picks involve strong keyboard parts. Just about everything by Eddie Palmieri is amazing. Learning latin jazz piano is on my bucket list.”

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Brandon is thankful for music recommended by his friend Cole.

“These are some of my good friend Cole’s favorite albums. I am thankful for them because even though Cole passed away in 2012, I still feel close to him when I play these tunes. It’s amazing how music can do that!”

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Kayla is thankful for Reggae.

“I am most thankful for reggae music. Ever since I started listening to it, my life has become so much more positive. This music has connected me to the most amazing people, and being able to play it for people on the radio gives me a sense of purpose and meaning. Older artists like King Tubby, Burning Spear, The Gladiators, Augustus Pablo and Barrington Levy drew me in deep. Later on I fell in love with new bands like Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, 10 Ft. Ganja Plant and John Brown’s Body, and I’ll travel far and wide to see them play, whenever I can!”

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Jeff is thankful for Noise Rock.

“What is that ungodly sound? Noise rock is an inverted umbrella of bands using standard rock instruments to deconstruct, mangle, and reassemble popular music into new challenging styles, often pushing as many buttons as boundaries. Bands like Big BlackUnwound, The Jesus Lizard and US Maple use weird tunings, nonsensical rhythms, and a healthy dose of nails on a chalkboard singing. More diaspora than unified camp, noise rock emerged from post punk, no wave and art school experimental scenes (Sonic Youth, Swans) but it’s knotty tendrils stretch into metal (Helmet, Melvins, UnsaneToday is the Day), mathcore (Dillinger Escape Plan, The Locust) and electronic music (Space Streakings).”

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Andrew is thankful for Hip-Hop.

“I’m thankful for hip-hop. I’d like to thank great producers like Madlib, Prince Paul, and Cut Chemist for perfecting the art of recycling music. Digging through crates of vinyl and old tapes to find and reshape long-forgotten music is a true art form, and it’s an added bonus when DJs use samples that introduce you to new styles or artists. I’d also like to thank longtime MCs like MF DOOM, Aesop Rock, and Del The Funky Homosapien and newcomers like Joey Bada$$, Chance The Rapper, and Chuck Inglish. To all hip-hop artists out there, your creative use of drum machines and the English language is marvelous and fascinating, and I look forward to spending the rest of my life geeking out over new beats. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of great hip-hop, and I strongly suggest that anyone who shares my feelings of gratitude ought to check out some Zion I (Amp Live is another great DJ) or some Busdriver.”

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We are also very thankful for you, our Murfie members! Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! :)
—The crew at Murfie

Favorite New Releases of the Week!

The people working here seriously love music so much! We’re junkies. After gushing about our favorite new album releases to each other at the office, we realized we should really share our thoughts with y’all. :)

Here’s a list of our favorite new albums, which all came out recently.


steady-face2Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
Steady

(Kayla’s Pick)

Steady has an incredibly fun, jammy, Grateful-Dead-y feel to it, while still holding true to elements of roots reggae. I love Giant Panda’s bouncy bass and conscious lyrics. My favorite song on here is definitely “Move,” a song that I’ve been waiting to hear a recorded version of for a long time. A pleasant surprise on this album is the very Americana-sounding song “Home.” People really dig Giant Panda for their live shows, so besides “Move,” the band was finally able to match “Solution,” “.45,” and other live favorites to equally awesome studio counterparts. I strongly recommend picking up this album if you like reggae or jam music, or any good, positive music in general!

389898-largeInterpol
El Pintor

(Jeff’s Pick)

I’ve been listening to the new Interpol album a lot because it is cool and they are old, and I am old and wish to be cool. “My Blue Supreme” is my favorite track to listen to before going out for the night. It’s about a car, which is great, and I imagine it came about from Interpol listening to The Beach Boys and saying “Hey, we could totally write songs about cars too, right?”

Sia 1000 Forms of FearSia
1000 Forms of Fear

(Steve’s Pick)

The first time I heard the song “Chandelier” I hated it. The second time I loved it. Originally, I was fascinated with the promotion around the album. Sia performs with her back to the audience! I picked up the album and have since played it many times over. Sometimes I listen to “Free the Animal” at my desk and imagine myself as a 100ft tall neon green tiger smashing the bugs that inhabit the metropolis of the Murfie codebase.

Shellac Dude IncredibleShellac
Dude Incredible

(Marc’s Pick)

It’s much like every other Shellac album: seething, wiry, lean, full of menace, as tight as miser’s grip on a Spanish doubloon, and totally amazing. Shellac makes clear their attitude towards systems of order and surveillance with their tautly unpredictable rhythmic assault, while Albini gives his best crow impression. Everyone I’ve met who knows Shellac either loves them or loathes them. Nothing here will change minds of the latter set, but there never can be. Shellac isn’t out to make friends. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to lurch along on my walks home with Shellac bruising my eardrums, content in my good taste. CAWCAW!

More new releases are on the way! Go to murfie.com/preorder to see what’s coming, and pre-order your favorites.

Which albums are you excited to see? Tell us in the comments!

Top Posts of 2013: Murfie Blog

We’re almost there—2013 ends today, and I know that everyone at Murfie is happy to have had an exciting year. Social media is a big part of my role here, and writing for the Murfie Blog is always fun. Our blog not only keeps you up-to-date about new features, but it gives you a good look at what goes on behind the scenes: our staffers, our favorite music, and our holiday memories, for starters.

WordPress, the site that hosts our blog, gave us some statistics that point out our most popular posts of the year. Here are those posts, along with a bit of commentary by yours truly.

1. Creative Cover Caption Contest: Finalists! 
Remember how competitive all the finalists were in the #MurfieVOCO contest?! That was a fun time for all of us. It was great to see the creativity of our members shine through. And, it was awesome to celebrate the fact that Murfie now offers lossless streaming with VOCO! That’s really boss!

2. About Murfie
Well hey, it’s good to know people want to learn more about us! Hehe. Our service is definitely unique as ever, and a lot of what we do is communicating what we do.

3. Staff Picks: Top Albums for Lossless Listening (FLAC & ALAC)
This post totally earns its spot high on the list of popular posts. A lot of audiophiles out there swear by lossless listening: It’s higher quality, and it makes certain recordings sound even more rich. John, our Murfie staffer, is without a doubt an audiophile who can recommend what sounds good in lossless format.

4. Music not on iTunes
You guessed right—this post talks about what music is not available on iTunes, and why it’s not available. At Murfie, you’re buying real, physical CDs—not copies or licensed files. Since you own a CD, you get unlimited downloads and streaming of the music on your CD. So you’ll find stuff on Murfie that’s not on iTunes. Nice, eh?

5. Creative Cover Caption Contest
See #1 on the list (above). We owe it to Shawn Broderick for thinking of this tongue-twisting title for our contest.

6. Henry Mackaman
This year, we lost our friend Henry very suddenly. It really shook our staff and everyone else who Henry touched during his lifetime. It was an absolute honor to have him as a friend and creative collaborator. He will always be remembered and missed, and he is a source of inspiration for the people who were lucky enough to know him.

7. Download FLAC at Murfie
So often, we come across people online who are asking, “Where can I download FLAC music LEGALLY?”  Murfie is happy to provide this high-quality format as an option for downloads (and now streaming). I totally admit: Before I worked and shopped at Murfie, I had no idea that FLAC music sounded so much better than other formats. This is because I was stuck downloading mp3s, which is often the only file type that is provided by other music services.

8. Get Lossless Streaming with Murfie + VOCO!
Okay, if for some reason you haven’t noticed #1 and #5 on this list, let me know and I can go into more detail about this one.

9. The Move, Part 1: “Out with the old…”
A BIG change in 2013 was our office location! In order to have room for our growing inventory, we had to move our office…all the way down the street! We even made a fun video documenting the move. We like our new digs at 7 N. Pinckney Street a lot. There’s tons of good photos in this post!

10. Interview with the Simpkin Project [Podcast]
Cooool! I’m so happy to see this on the top ten posts. The Simpkin Project is a band that was recommended to me by Chris from Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad (one of my favoritest bands in the whole entire universe). In a time where modern reggae goes in all directions, The Simpkin Project holds a true rootsy style. And hey guess what…I’m flying out to California to see them play in January. Wheee!

As our main blog contributor, I want to say thanks for reading our posts, and thanks for following us on Facebook and Twitter. I couldn’t do this without the help of other blog contributors including John Kruse and Ally Boutelle. Social Media is a fun window to the goings-on in Murfieland. I can’t wait to share what’s new in 2014! Happy New Year everyone! :)

-Kayla

Interview with The Simpkin Project [Podcast]

According to The Simpkin Project’s facebook page, they play a “multi-faceted blend of reggae and Americana that varies greatly on its exterior layers but only atop the organic rhythms of reggae music.” Let’s see what the band mates say in person!

Who: Shawn Taylor and Phil Simpkin; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
What: The guys of The Simpkin Project talk about roots reggae and the new directions it can take
Where: Murfie HQ, Madison, WI
When: Friday, December 14, 2012
How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach
File: WAV version

Check out more of the band at www.simpkinproject.com.

Find music by The Simpkin Project in our shop.

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