April 25th Centennial of Ella Fitzgerald

ella-fitzgerald

Today marks the centennial of American jazz singer, Miss Ella Jane Fitzgerald. She was born on April 25th, 1917 and passed away June 15th, 1996 due to complications from diabetes.

Ella Fitzgerald was discovered during an amateur night at the Apollo theater in Harlem. She was often referred to as the “First Lady of Song”, “Queen of Jazz” and “Lady Ella”. Her first big hit, “A Tisket, A Tasket” was released in 1938, which was written by both Ella and Chick Webb. She had a remarkable talent for singing and was most noted for her pure tone, improvisational ability and scat singing.

Norman Granz, a famous jazz impresario, worked with Ella during her career and built up the record label Verve Records based partially on her vocal talents. It was with Verve that Ella wrote many of her best works including her interpretation of The Great American Songbook.

Ella also appeared in movies and as a guest on popular television shows. She worked with a number of other Jazz artists including Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington. One notable album, Porgy and Bess, was awarded a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, a special award that honors recordings with “qualitative or historical significance”. It was considered to be among the most successful jazz vocal versions and would be released to coincide with the movie version.

After a long and successful career, which included 13 Grammy nominations and countless Downbeat Jazz Awards, Ella Fitzgerald would play her final concert at Carnegie Hall in 1991.

In addition to her many achievements, Ella assigned all of her royalties to the Charitable Foundation that bears her name. So every time you purchase a new recording of Ella’s, the royalty is donated in order to continue her charitable legacy. The centennial begins April 25th, 2017 and will conclude April 25th, 2018.

To commemorate Ella’s 100th birthday, the Smithsonian Museum opened “First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald at 100.”, and the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles has created a similar tribute. In addition, much of her body of work will see re-releases all year long.

Looking for albums from Ella Fitzgerald’s discography? Check out our shop!

Staff picks: Spring Edition!

2013_0326_staff_picks1

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!

Album Review: ‘Is This It’ by The Strokes

Is This It was one of the first records I ever bought. Even back then–nearly ten years ago–the album had already earned its place in rock ‘n’ roll’s pantheon. Like the “classic” records it nods to, there isn’t any other way to consume it: Is This It was made for wax.

Maybe it’s because The Strokes arrived before the social media era, or because I was just a teenager in Wisconsin at the time, but, on its debut, the band felt fully-formed. From the downwinding tape that kicks off the title track to Julian Casablancas’ closing howls on “Take It or Leave It,” Is This It emanates effortlessness, self-assurance and, in a way, perfection.

Of course, Is This It is basically the work of a classically trained musician (Casablancas) hell-bent on rehearsing and rehashing his favorite garage and rock records until he’s achieved said perfection. “Rock ‘n’ roll” is supposed to be unrehearsed and raw, and this record is technically anything but. Somehow, though, the Strokes pulled it off, releasing a nearly-untouchable, instant-classic debut.

We all know what happened next: For the Strokes, Is This It was it. But, when your biggest hit blatantly rips off Tom Petty and he responds by inviting you to tour with him, you can really only go downhill from there.

Murfie is Moving (Again)!

With over 750,000 CDs in the Murfie warehouse, the time has come for the company to relocate to bigger digs!

It’s been truly enjoyable having Murfie on Madison’s Capitol Square surrounded by fantastic companies and people. However, Murfie has simply outgrown the space! With the amount of physical music being sent in to be digitized and stored, the best solution was to find a warehouse where there’s plenty of room for the growing amount of CDs and vinyl….plus all the Murfie staffers of course!

Murfie is moving to Middleton, Wisconsin, in the old Full Compass building. Full Compass is a Madison-based music company as well. The new neighborhood is looking beautiful as can be, and the staff is relieved to be able to keep all of Murfie operations under one spacious roof.

Starting today, Murfie will begin to move all inventory to the new Middleton warehouse, which will continue for 1-2 weeks. In the meantime, you can still access your music digitally, so no worries there!

Murfie has a new focus of maintaining the largest and most diverse source of lossless music on the web.  So—see you on the other side, in Middleton!

– The Murfie Crew

Murfie, Inc.
8001 Terrace Ave, Suite 201
Middleton, WI 53562

 

Interview with The People Brothers Band [Podcast]

Positivity. Good vibes. Great people. Fun music. These are just a few things that immediately come to mind when I think of The People Brothers Band—a Madison-based “rhythm & soul” group known for their uplifting live shows. We had the pleasure of having two PBB members, Teresa and Greg, in the Murfie office recently. They had a lot of great things to say about the Midwest scene, and People Fest, which is happening this weekend in Hillsboro, Wisconsin!

Here’s a transcript of our interview, along with the Soundcloud link below for your listening pleasure.

People Brothers Band Middle of the In BetweenWho: Teresa Marie and Greg Schmitt; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
Where: Murfie HQ, Madison, WI
When: Monday, July 20th, 2015
How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 


K: I’m here at the Murfie office with Greg and Teresa from The People Brothers Band, so big welcome.

G: Hello!

T: Hello hello, thank you for having us!

K: Yes. I’m glad you guys dig Murfie, and the concept.

G: Absolutely.

T: This is super cool. Blows my mind a little bit. More people need to know about Murfie.

K: Yes, and it’s local…slash national. But yeah, it’s a lot of fun to be part of it. And we were also just mentioning the MAMAs—Madison Area Music Awards—which were a ton of fun. You guys won top Pop/R&B Album of the Year, Middle of the in Between. So what do you guys think about the MAMA award system and everything?

T: I think every year they’re increasingly doing way cooler things, and this year they definitely put on a show. And I really encourage the musicians in Madison to get out and know more about it, because I think that’s what it lacks, is us being more involved in it. But it’s a really cool way to get recognition and to be appreciated.

G: I think it’s a really cool thing because every time, every year you get to see all these cool new bands. We all run in different circles, and it’s finally cool to see all these people come together. It’s fun for me because when I get to go in and vote, all of a sudden you get to listen to these bands that, you see their names in The Isthmus but you don’t always get to go out to the shows, because you’re playing on the weekends. So it’s fun, because it kind of like gives you a good reason to check out all these great bands. And then it’s fun because it kind of gets everybody in one place, you get to see all these different people that you didn’t know about.

K: I would agree with that 100%. And its enough rotation every year to keep it interesting. Some people are repeat winners but it’s good to see it cycle through like that. During your speech Teresa you had a message to musicians, telling them they had the opportunity to spread positivity through doing this. I thought that was great, can you elaborate on that a little bit?

T: Absolutely, that’s really cool that you even…that means a lot! I guess at the end of the day, I think most people are doing music for the love of it, and the way that you feel when you’re playing music, when you’re doing music, when the people are watching you the way they’re receiving it—if you could just spread that feeling throughout the community for other things. And I think that we can, I think that when you feel that kind of passion and that kind of love coming from people, you can’t help but want to do good things with it. That’s what we do at People Fest, I know that.

K: Yes, tell me about People Fest!

T: August 6th, 7th and 8th. And I will say more than once that it’s not just some of the most fun you’re gonna have this summer, it’s some of the best memories you can make in your life. And that’s a true story. There’s so much love flowing through those driftless hills, it doesn’t make any sense.

481065_556687791009906_323876588_nK: Love it. What town is it in?

G: Hillsboro, Wisconsin. It’s over by Wildcat Mountain. It’s an awesome drive out there, it’s on 300 acres of amazing land out there. We’ve got horses running around…

T: Alpacas…

G: We’ve got a couple llamas and a miniature donkey. And it’s all family friendly. We’ve got 53 bands playing.

T: Three stages, camping, family camping.

Continue reading Interview with The People Brothers Band [Podcast]

Album Review: “Currents” by Tame Impala

Currents
Released: July 17th, 2015
Reviewed by Thomas Johnstone
Rating: 4/5

“I heard about a whirlwind that’s coming ’round / It’s gonna carry off all that isn’t bound,” Kevin Parker announces on “Let It Happen,” opening track of Australian act Tame Impala‘s new record Currents. The lyric forecasts the album’s theme of personal change, from its distant rumblings to its disaffecting aftermath, and given the apocalyptic imagery, we’d hardly expect the changes to be slight.

Fittingly Currents delivers by departing from the act’s previous work in big, surprising ways, given the expectations we might have following two acclaimed albums which comfortably wear the label “psychedelic rock.” Despite possessing a keen sense of melody and lyrical maturity, Kevin Parker—the sole recording and producing musician of Tame Impala (he mixes this time around, as well)—has always seemed less of a songwriter than a clever studio craftsman. A typical track obscured his Lennon-like vocals behind snaking bass lines and 70’s guitar riffs, forming mantra-like jams awash in bombastic drums and reverb. The closing track of 2012’s Lonerism, “Sun’s Coming Up,” seemed to lay the Tame Impala formula bare. A sad carnival waltz for voice and piano, shockingly bare and traditional given everything it follows, eventually turns to full-blown noise collage à la “Revolution 9.” With this self-deconstruction Parker seemed to be both copping to his Beatles influence in the most blatant way, and acknowledging his art’s competing elements: the traditional song, and the abstract, chaotic sound world of an expanded mind.

With Currents, the song finally gets its day in the sun. This is largely an album of pop songs, and Tame Impala’s familiar elliptical jams are kept to a minimum. The main exception is “Let It Happen,” which tries several styles on for size over the course of its nearly eight minute fantasia: dance pop with vocoder, gnarly guitar riffs and even a diversion into synth-orchestra territory that recalls Mercury Rev. It’s like Parker preempted the DJs by remixing the track himself.

As the album progresses it’s clear such meandering is the exception rather than the rule, perhaps by design, as this opening track eases the transition to more traditional territory. Traditional, at least, in the abundance of well-structured songs like “The Moment.” It’s a testament to Parker’s songwriting chops (a few clunky rhymes aside, it feels like he’s been doing this all along) that a listener is more likely to fixate on the newly electronic texture. Keyboards dominate, with guitars mostly relegated to short, funky riffs as on “The Less I Know the Better,” a smirking love song which could easily fit on Daft Punk‘s Random Access Memories. Drums are more danceable and reigned-in (you won’t even hear a crash cymbal until track 5) and vocals no longer feel like an afterthought; Parker’s sweet tenor sits front and center, his double-tracked Lennon pretensions of the past nowhere in sight. Not that he’s entirely abandoned psychedelia, evidenced by a dramatic vocal delay in “Reality In Motion” or the blurry pads of studio scrap “Nangs,” but the effects enhance as much as they obscure. Parker balances the rhythms and textures of his electronic soundscape with surprising ease, resembling Caribou much more than the Beatles. In fact, he slips so comfortably into his new skin it feels like splitting hairs to complain that the album feels merely expert, rather than groundbreaking.

Assured as Parker’s technical skills may be, the heart of the album is a narrative arc shining a light on individual growth. “The Moment” confronts a now-or-never fork in the road, while “Yes I’m Changing” reconciles the choice to move ahead with the pain of what’s left behind. Closing track “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” contemplates change as illusory and temporary, skeptically suggesting Currents‘ arc is not a timeline, but a closed loop: skip back to “Let It Happen” and repeat, ad infinitum.

Currents answers Tame Impala’s rising profile with a daring change of direction, and that move has already earned comparisons to Kid A and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Excellent as the record is, the comparison is a bit generous—Currents doesn’t reach the heights of those seminal albums, and Parker’s boldness is of a safer variety. Whereas Radiohead and Wilco showed a willingness to lean into abstraction that bordered on perverse, Tame Impala does the opposite by embracing pop songwriting, and comes out all the more listenable for it.

“They say people never change, but that’s bullshit,” Parker confides on “Yes I’m Changing,” and Currents gives every reason to agree. Parker embraces change so successfully, we might assume he isn’t finished—Currents may be a mere pit stop on the way to Tame Impala‘s yet-to-come masterpiece, but it’s a trip well worth enjoying on its own.

Interview with Ha Ha Tonka [Podcast]

Ha Ha Tonka is a rock band from Missouri with a sound influenced by life in the Ozarks. We recently had guitarist and vocalist Brian Roberts on the phone for an interview, because we wanted to find out his thoughts on Bloodshot Records, the value of buying music, and getting through a personal run-in with cancer and the American healthcare system.

Here’s a transcript of our interview, along with the Soundcloud link below for your listening pleasure.

438958-largeWho: Brian Roberts; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
When: Thursday July 16th, 2015
How: via phone

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

K:  So Brian, how do you like being part of Bloodshot Records and that family over there?

B: Well I’m glad you used the word family. That’s basically what it is. I mean really we’ve been with Bloodshot since we started doing this professionally, since 2007. So yeah, we love all those guys. They’re the smartest people in the industry and just a great label to be a part of. We’ve been really fortunate to grow our band with them as our main supporters.

K: Are there any other bands on their client list that you’re following pretty closely?

B: Yeah, the Banditos are really having a great year. They’ve had such great acts in the past, like you know some of our favorite records, and I think can speak collectively for the band too. Ryan AdamsHeartbreaker came out on Bloodshot, and I wore that album out listening to it so many times. Justin Townes Earle was on the label recently and put out a couple great records. Of course the Old 97’s earlier on. They’ve had so many good acts, I could just talk about them all day. Bobby Bare, Jr. There’s some phenomenal acts on Bloodshot.

K: Cool. Well you’re in good company. You know the music business is an interesting thing, it’s always changing. I was wondering what your thoughts are on some of the recent trends in the music business, including the infinite access to music that people have.

B: Well you know I don’t…obviously it would be great if people still bought records the way they did in the 90’s or anytime prior to that. I don’t hold out any hope that that will come back. So I am thankful that we are a touring band, and the touring side of things hasn’t changed. We generate most of our income from the touring side of what we do. When it comes to the debate over streaming services or digital downloads, or any of the Napster or post-Napster stuff that’s gone on, really that’s just technology. And I don’t know if the music industry was ready for the onslaught like some of the other digital industries were, whether that be gaming or movies or the film industry. I don’t know. I don’t really know how to talk about it in a way that doesn’t make me sound like an asshole. I love that people can go online and check out a band—check out our band—and not have to pay for it right away. But the problem I think comes into the fact that people then never pay for your music. Or rarely do. Or there’s probably a whole generation that doesn’t think that music costs anything. And I think Bloodshot’s tried to educate people, Nan Warshaw has spoke on it several times about how not buying a record from a band like the Banditos or the 97’s 25 years or 20 years ago would have meant they got less money for next time they want to make a record. Less tour support. They get less of everything.

K: Yeah I agree with some of the things you pointed out, especially I believe that maybe the next generation of music consumers doesn’t even expect to pay for music.

B: Right, what does that mean?

Continue reading Interview with Ha Ha Tonka [Podcast]