Interview with Eric Hutchinson

Way back in the day (April 2012, actually), we had the pleasure of recording a podcast with Eric Hutchinson. It’s been fun seeing his career really take off over the past year and a half, especially since we caught up with him right as his new album, Moving Up Living Down, was being released. Here’s a write-up of our interview, and another chance to get to know this singer/songwriter that you can’t help but love!

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INTRO: This is Kayla here, with your Murfie podcast. Eric Hutchinson is someone you might know. He’s got a good vibe to his music, and his fans are so devoted. Before he left on his tour, he gave me a call, so that we could all get to know some more about him.

[MUSIC: “Watching You Watch Him” by Eric Hutchinson]

Kayla: So where are you calling from?

Eric: I’m calling from New York City.

Kayla: Alright, and I see that you’re about to head out on a really big tour across the country.

Eric: Yeah—I’m really excited. I’m starting the tour April 17th, the same day the album comes out—my new album. I’ve never done that before, so it’s gonna be fun to, you know, get the fans to learn all the songs, and I expect they’ll want to get the music as soon as possible and learn the songs, so they can come out and sing along with me.

Kayla: Who are you going on tour with?

Continue reading Interview with Eric Hutchinson

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.

Keith’s Picks

Working at Murfie has taught me how important music is as a cultural phenomenon, and how people from different musical backgrounds can inspire one another. My musical taste has become more diverse in the last few years, originating from the deepest and darkest of the metal genre. Here are some of my favorite heavy metal albums found on Murfie:

2463-largeDomination by Morbid Angel

Florida death metal gods Morbid Angel bring a hard-hitting, excruciatingly heavy sound to this album, with amazing guitar riffs and extremely fast and complex drumming. This album gives a much more sludgy feel, with notable grooves in “Where the Slime Live”, and also “Caesar’s Palace”—which I would have to say is my favorite song on the album. The album was (and still is) heavily criticized by many fans as being much simpler musically and lyrically than their earlier albums. Nonetheless, Domination shows that metal bands can sound extreme without being aggressive and technical.

62111-largeMidian by Cradle of Filth

In my opinion, classical music and black metal go together like penut butter and jelly, or maybe pizza and a bloody mary (just me?). This is a great transition album for metal lovers who wish to get into black metal but don’t know where to start. Dani Filth’s infamous screeching vocals, mixed with the beautiful operatic undertones and chilling instrumentals, make this album both accessible and absolutely horrifying to the unaccustomed listener.

 

SymphonyX-VTheNewMythologySuite-1V: The New Mythology Suite by Symphony X

This is probably one of my favorite progressive metal works of all time. Inspired by some of the greatest guitarists in the world, this album shreds to a whole new level. There isn’t much to say about this album that hasn’t been said already: Its fast, melodic, complex guitar work mixed with powerful vocals and beautiful use of orchestral instruments provides a fresh and engaging take on a genre of heavy metal that has been around since the time of Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin.

 

7154e2a8-ddca-11e1-ac7b-1231381a75beBlood Fire Death by Bathory

To me, Bathory is the band that really captured the sound of black metal (although some critics will argue that it was actually the band Venom that fathered the genre). Bathory’s use of war-like themes, norse mythology and grim vocals really set the standard for the majority of black metal out there. What I love about this album is that it is incredibly experimental. The band certainly doesn’t like to stick to the same sound that can, quite frankly, get incredibly boring after a few listens. “A Fine Day to Die” and “For All Those Who Died” provide a more traditional black metal sound, whereas tracks like “Pace ’till Death” and “The Golden Walls of Heaven” are extremely fast and aggressive, akin to many famous thrash metal bands like Slayer and Municipal Waste.

 

66280-largeThe Light at the End of the World by My Dying Bride

I do have to admit that I found this album on Murfie after looking for a great doom metal album to add to my list. I have always loved the style of My Dying Bride, but I really haven’t given this album much of a listen. Some of the things that I really enjoy about the band are absent here: The depressingly slow and melodic guitar work, devastating vocals and the courageous use of violin and other such instruments that provide a great emotional experience. Still, this album is very poetic, dark and and at times can have a much more death metal sound than some of their other works. If you love depressing music, you will definitely enjoy this album.

Shopkeep of the Week

It was June, 2011 when Kevin joined Murfie. Since then, he’s sent three kits with over 600 discs all the way from the Pacific shores of California to the Madison Isthmus.

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Murfie: How did you originally learn about Murfie?
Kevin: I discovered Murfie while looking for a place to sell my CDs. I did a Google search, and voila! I now have a lot of music on MP3, and the storage and accessibility are no longer a problem.

M: When did you purchase your first CD? What was it?
K: I have no idea when I purchased my first CD. Suffice to say—a long time ago. I used to belong to some of those mail CD clubs, but the selection was pretty bad and I had trouble finding good CDs to meet the minimum membership requirement, so I quit.

M: How many CDs do you own (or did you own at your peak)?
K: I still have about 100 or so CDs (along with LPs, audio cassettes, and reel to reel tapes. Sorry, no 8 tracks!). At the height of my collection, I probably had at least 600-700 CDs.

M: How tall are you?
K: How tall am I? Taller than Billy Barty and shorter than Wilt Chamberlain.

M: Tell us about your musical tastes.
K: My musical tastes lean mostly towards blues and jazz, although I like some rock (usually more blues based), Neil Young, Dylan, classical (modern), opera, what I consider alternative (Songs Ohia, Cat Power, Portishead, etc.), and even some new age stuff. I don’t like rap or hip hop much, and my country tastes ends not far south of Lyle Lovett and Junior Brown.

M: What can folks expect to find in your store (if different than above)?
K: Folks can expect to find a lot of the stuff above in my store, as well as some of the traditional classical music on some of the BBC Music discs. I have a monthly subscription, but I don’t listen to them much unless it’s someone I’ve never heard of.

M: If you could meet any musician or band in person, who would it be and why?
K: The late Michael Bloomfield, my all-time guitar hero, whose playing still sends shivers down my back. Not likely.

M: What is your favorite album at the moment?
K: Favorite album at the moment is tough, but I keep playing Joe Bonamassa‘s version of “Sloe Gin” and “Reconsider Baby”. I listen to a lot of genres and I have three internet radios strewn about the house, playing the Croatian Jazz station and the 8-9 Pandora stations I’ve put together, which range from Archie Shepp-type jazz to Kronos.

M: What do you plan to do with the millions of dollars you’re making from your Murfie shop?
K: Millions of dollars? I must have missed something in the agreement. Please send the Brinks truck here immediately!

M: Which Beatle was your favorite?
K: Since I never cared much for The Beatles (always more of a Stones guy), I can’t say that I have a favorite. I realize this is a minority opinion that confounds many of my friends, but I never felt there was much feeling in their music. Same reason I dislike 50’s rock!

Check out Kevin’s shop on Murfie!

Shopkeep of the Week is a weekly feature that focuses on our most interesting Murfie shopkeepers. These are music lovers like you who have sold hundreds of pre-loved CDs on Murfie and have hundreds more at the ready to please your ears! If you’d like your Murfie Shop to be featured, or if you’d like to nominate a shop to be featured, please e-mail us at info@murfie.com and let us know.

Pete’s Picks: An Introduction to John Martyn

Uncovering one of music’s sweet little mysteries…

For music lovers, one of the most exciting aspects is the discovery of a new artist or album and being able to share that excitement with others—something that Murfie members know plenty about! So when the opportunity to offer a recommendation for Murfie Staff Picks came along, for me it was not a difficult choice. The hardest part was choosing which album to recommend.

John Martyn was a British singer-songwriter and guitarist whose career spread across 40 years and 21 studio albums. He’s had contributions along the way from Eric Clapton, The Band’s Levon Helm, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, Steve Winwood, Lee “Scratch” Perry and Phil Collins. John has also inspired a wide range of artists from Beck, The Cure’s Robert Smith, David Gray, Devendra Banhart, Snow Patrol and many more—yet John remains pretty much unknown to many.

The music of John Martyn captured my soul from the very first listen. Island Records was John’s musical home for 22 years. He recorded 12 studio albums during that time, none of which were of any real commercial success, so it is a testament to Island Records’ founder Chris Blackwell who signed John (who was just twenty years old), making him the first white artist to join the otherwise Jamaican-based music label in 1967. Chris Blackwell stuck by John for over 20 years, purely because he liked John and the music he made.

John described himself as an incurable romantic, which is evident in his ability for writing and delivering perfect love songs, without sounding cheap or blatantly inauthentic. What is even more astounding is his guitar playing, considering he didn’t know one chord from the next, but knew the shapes and positions his fingers needed to make to produce the the sound he wanted.

Like so many treasured and talented artists, John’s life was not without controversy. He suffered with drug abuse and alcohol addiction. He was uncompromising, and could become quite violent at times. In 2003, John’s right leg was amputated below the right knee due to septicemia brought on by diabetes. This would not slow him down, however. He continued to tour, performing with his band from a wheelchair.

In 2008, John was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and was included in the Queen’s New Years Honors list, receiving an O.B.E. (Order Of The British Empire). Sadly on January 29th, 2009, John died in a hospital in Ireland due to double pneumonia. Eric Clapton payed tribute to John claiming he was, “so far ahead of everything, it’s almost inconceivable.”

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Sweet Little Mysteries: The Island Anthology (1995)

This two disc collection highlights John’s most innovative and treasured moments during his time with Island Records, with a selection of tracks taken from eight studio albums from 1971-1986. This collection is certainly a great start in the discovery of the music of John Martyn, but is by no means the end of the journey. The tracks from each album represented on Sweet Little Mysteries are just a few from this golden period of John’s career. Below I have included a little background information relating to the albums that are featured in this collection.

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Bless The Weather (1971), Tracks 1-3

Bless The Weather is at times a delicate and beautiful album. It was recorded in just three days, as John preferred the spontaneous approach, and many of the songs were even written the day of recording. This album earned John some of the strongest reviews of his career. The album blends gentle yet complex acoustic guitar styles with John’s increasingly jazzy vocals. In 1999 (28 years after it’s original release), Q magazine suggested that Bless The Weather was one of the most essential folk albums of all time.

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Solid Air (1973), Tracks 4-8

Solid Air is considered to be John’s landmark album, which showed him move towards a more experimental folk, jazz and blues direction. Here John delivers his lyrics with a more slurred expression, almost using his voice as an instrument. From the first few opening notes of Solid Air, you are immediately seduced and on a journey into a real after-hours classic. The British music magazine Q listed Solid Air as the 67th Greatest British Album Ever and was also included in their list of Best Chill-Out Albums Of All Time—not bad for an album recorded in 1973.  The title track was written for and about John’s close friend and Island label mate Nick Drake. Also included from the Solid Air Album is the tender “May You Never”, a track that earned John the most royalty checks he ever received—not from his own version, but the version Eric Clapton recorded for his 1977 album Slowhand.

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Inside Out (1973), Tracks 9-11

Following the critical appeal brought by Solid Air, Inside Out was described by John as everything he ever wanted to do in music. It was his insides coming out. He began to experiment more with electric guitar, leaving the acoustic to take more of a backseat role. Experimentation with effects pedals also began to enter into the mix, and the introduction of the Echoplex tape delay machine was being used to try to make his guitar emulate a sustained sax sound, influenced by Pharoah Saunders‘ Karma album.

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Sunday’s Child (1975), Tracks 12-18

Having unleashed his experimental side through Inside Out, John appears a little more settled and content with the release of Sunday’s Child—and the Echoplex still makes an appearance, shaping some very interesting soundscapes to accompany his ever present messages of love. The songs within Sunday’s Child are of a more conventional structure, as demonstrated on the beautifully simple “You Can Discover” and “One Day Without You”. While promoting Sunday’s Child, John played support for Pink Floyd on their Wish You Were Here tour in the UK. As he took the stage with just his acoustic guitar in hand, he was met by a wall of abuse from the crowd, who made it perfectly clear that they were not prepared to sit and listen to a bunch of folk songs. Undeterred, John proceeded to plug his guitar into the Echoplex and blasted the audience with a performance that resulted in a standing ovation.

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One World (1977), Tracks 1-6

After Sunday’s Child, John decided that he needed some time away from recording and his ever-skeptical view of the music business. He headed out to Jamaica, and while he was there, was introduced to the master of dub, Lee “Scratch” Perry. When John finally returned to the UK with the desire to re-enter the studio, he recorded One World, which saw John introduce some of the influences from his trip to Jamaica in tracks such as “Big Muff” (written with Lee Scratch Perry) and “Smiling Stranger”. The album was produced by Chris Blackwell, and is another example of John’s hunger for experimentation. The album also features Steve Winwood on Moog synthesizer. One of the many highlights from this album is the incredible and truly ambient track “Small Hours”, which was recorded around 3:00 in the morning, outside in the open air, next to a lake on a farm owned by Chris Blackwell. It features the sounds of nature’s very own session musicians, as the geese and the lapping water can be heard playing their part along with a passing mail train in the distance.

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Grace And Danger (1980), Tracks 7-12

Grace and Danger is a deep, painful and openly honest account of the breakdown of John’s relationship with his wife Beverley, a singer-songwriter in her own right, who he met and married in 1969. John was originally hired to be Beverley’s backing guitarist, which eventually lead to them releasing two albums (Stormbringer and The Road To Ruin) as John & Beverley Martyn for Island records. The songs on Grace and Danger are not in anyway spiteful or of a bitter naturein fact, they are quite the opposite. At times they are reflective, optimistic with false hope, a plea to be understood. Unlike a Hollywood movie, there is no happy ending here. The release of the album was delayed for over a year due to the fact that Chris Blackwell found the album too openly disturbing, given that he knew both parties so well. John eventually demanded that the album be released, telling Blackwell, “Please get it out! I don’t give a damn about how sad it makes you feel—it’s what I’m about: direct communication of emotion.” Rolling Stone described Grace and Danger as “a very strong outing, placing him in a class with such intelligent eclectics as Joan Armatrading and Joni Mitchell.”

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Sapphire (1984), Tracks 13-14

For a brief period after Grace and Danger, John Left Island Records and signed to Warner Brothers releasing two albums, Glorious Fool (1981), which was produced by Phil Collins and featured Eric Clapton on guitar, and Well Kept Secret (1982). Both releases saw John’s guitar playing taking more of a backseat role, with keyboards and  drum machines featured more prominently and s well as live shows with a full band. John rejoined Island in 1984 and headed for Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas to record Sapphire with the help of Robert Palmer, who somewhat rescued the sessions as John was constantly falling out with the assigned production team. Again very little of John’s guitar playing is distinguishable from the now favored synth layers, as even his own guitar was now being fed through electronics, unfortunately with no real groundbreaking results.

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Piece By Piece (1986), Tracks 15-16

Piece By Piece was my introduction to the music of John Martyn and was played to me in 1987 on vinyl by a good friend of mine. I was 18 at the time and the thing that struck me on that very first listen was the honesty pouring out of John’s lyrics and the vocal delivery that convinced me that this guy means every word. The production and songwriting on Piece by Piece in my mind is far superior to that of the previous two records (Well Kept Secret and Sapphire) it indicates John on a more settled path once again, although it would not remain settled for long. Piece By Piece was John’s last studio album for Island as Chris Blackwell sold the company to the major label PolyGram, and John was later dropped and was without a record deal for the first time in over 20 years.

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Johnny Boy Would Love This! (2011)

In 1995, I met  and became friends with John and was fortunate to be in a position to help him sign a record deal with a label that I worked for in the UK. I worked with John on four albums before he sadly passed away in 2009. Later that same year, I was approached by John’s good friend and Chicago-based record Producer, Jim Tullio, to help coordinate and compile a tribute album to John that he was putting together. The album would contain brand new recordings of John’s classic songs performed by artists who had been influenced by John’s music. We secured thirty artists including: Beck, Snow Patrol, David Gray, Robert Smith (The Cure), Phil Collins, Joe Bonamassa, The Emperors of Wyoming (featuring Butch Vig) plus Academy Award winners, The Swell Season. Released in August 2011, the album titled Johnny Boy Would Love This: A Tribute to John Martyn received critical acclaim, helping music lovers to discover the sweet little mystery of John Martyn.

Interview with Chris Wilson and Planet Earth [Podcast]

Have you ever been excited to discover a great new band for the first time during their live show? Well, that’s what happens to many people who cross paths with Chris Wilson and Planet Earth! With all the foot stompin’, hand clappin’, and those feel-good tunes, you’re sure to fall in love. Here’s an interview with this up-and-coming band, recorded during the Madison stop of their tour.

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Who: Chris Wilson and Joe Cardillo; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
What: Chris and Joe talk about their history, traveling, music choices, and puka shells.
Where: Murfie HQ, Madison, WI
When: Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach
File: mp3 version

Find music by Chris Wilson and Planet Earth in our shop.

Check out more of the band at chriswilsonandplanetearth.com.

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