New to Me: Newly-found music gems

It’s funny when you stumble across music that’s new to you, only to find out it’s been around a while! That’s happened to us here more than once.

Sometimes these discoveries are intentional. For example, it can be as simple as finally getting around to checking out a band you’ve been meaning to check out, and getting a copy of their album. But other times it’s not-so-intentional. Since thousands of members all across the country send CDs here, we have an incredibly eclectic mix of albums and artists, including some of the rarest stuff you can find. Often, we’ve found ourselves accidentally discovering something awesome!

Bad BrainsKayla found Bad Brains by Bad Brains

I was initially drawn to the awesome rasta-colored cover art on this album. I found out Bad Brains is influential hardcore punk / reggae crossover band from the 80s who inspired bands like Sublime. Skunk Records’ 30th Anniversary set at Cali Roots Fest in May 2014 was shrouded in mystery, and said to have “surprise performances.” During the set, a group came out and started playing the song “Leaving Babylon,” sung by someone I recognized as H.R. Everyone around me was wondering who this surprise guest was, so of course I said “Bad Brains!”

6 Feet Deep GravediggazAndrew found 6 Feet Deep by Gravediggaz

I started listening to hip-hop just a couple years ago and for the most part my friends introduced me to newer acts like Danny Brown and Kendrick Lamar. After exploring the genre on my own for a couple years, I’ve found that I also really appreciate older artists like Jurassic 5 and A Tribe Called Quest. I had never heard of Gravediggaz until a couple weeks ago, but it caught my attention when I noticed that Prince Paul and RZA, two of my favorite producers from the genre’s earlier days, were members of the group. It was cool to find music from 20 years ago that I didn’t even know existed but was still relevant to my taste.

Something Else The KinksJeff found Something Else by The Kinks

I can’t believe I went 36 years without hearing “Waterloo Sunset” by The Kinks, but all was put right thanks to a recent recommendation from ex-Opster, Elsa. Now I sing it to my dogs on a daily basis: “Everyday I chomp at the world out my windooooow!”

What’s a gem that you found on Murfie? Let us know in the comments!

Best of the Best: Bob Marley & the Wailers

Bob Marley & the Wailers, like many other bands, have evolved dramatically throughout their career—and they constantly churned out records, whether it was as The Wailing Wailers, The Wailers, or (most famously) Bob Marley & the Wailers.

Their albums give a snapshot of the changing lineup and production of the band, from the early ska years at Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s studio in 1965, to the band’s oftentimes most revered years working with the genius (and eccentric) producer Lee “Scratch” Perry in the early seventies, to the departure of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, and the addition of Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths, the I Threes, as backing vocalists. Today, the group tours as The Wailers band, with Aston “Family Man” Barrett as bassist and the only remaining member from the band’s earlier years.

Bob Marley & the Wailers have some incredible reggae albums, and a “Top 5” list is certainly debatable. Let me just say it took me quite a while to narrow these down, and I’m still feeling guilty about leaving some out. And no, Legend is not on this list—and if you think it should be, then get outta here! What do you think about these?


 5. Exodus (1977)

Bob Marley & the Wailers - Exodus

Exodus is simply an incredible album from start to finish. Even the first song “Natural Mystic” begins quietly, and grows louder on just a pulsating groove. When full volume is reached, the groove is met with a bongo roll, and Marley starts his prophetic lyrics with “There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air.” The first half of the album focuses on a huge and often-debated Rastafarian idea of leaving Jamaica and returning to the African homeland. Jamaica was in turbulent political times in 1977, and the band recently survived its own turbulence as well—an attempted assassination of Bob, Rita and other members in 1976, and a lineup change before that (Tosh and Wailer departing in 1974 for solo careers, and the I Threes and Wailers backing band arriving in their place). Exodus also brought the world-famous song “One Love/People Get Ready” to the masses, virally spreading a message of universal love and unity to people all over the planet. This album was recorded in both London and Jamaica and was originally released via the popular Island record label, bringing the band much success.

Album highlights: “Natural Mystic,” “Jamming,” “One Love/People Get Ready,” “Three Little Birds,” “Exodus” 

4. Kaya (1978)

Bob Marley & the Wailers - Kaya

Interestingly, many songs on Kaya were recorded alongside tracks from Exodus the previous year at Island Studios in London. The main topics on this album are less political and more easygoing—themes of romance, nice weather, and herb or “Kaya” are prevalent. On the easygoing side of things, the song “Easy Skanking” is one of my all-time favorites—it has a nice, relaxed vibe, and it reminds us to “take it eeeeasy.” On the love side of things, the song “Is This Love” simply recognizes the growing feeling of caring for another, and it’s without a doubt one of Marley’s most popular tunes.

Album highlights: “Easy Skanking,” “Is This Love,” “Sun Is Shining,” “Time Will Tell”

3. Live at the Roxy (Recorded: 1976, Released: 2003)

Bob Marley & the Wailers - Live at the Roxy

That’s right, I chose a live album as #3—and don’t knock it ’til you’ve heard it! Live music has a magical, raw energy. This album genuinely captures that energy from one of the band’s prime years and keeps it alive for listeners today. Live at the Roxy is guaranteed to give you some shivers when you feel what I just described.

There are so many highlights from this album, both obvious and subtle—and they go way beyond what can happen in a studio. One example of this is how the audience cheers with delight after recognizing the opening notes of “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Road Block).” In the same song, Bob strings together and slurs his plea to the arresting officer in an entertaining and animated way.

Something else I love about this album: The wonderful I Threes and their backing vocals, especially on “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)”. Their na na na, na na na na na’s act as a kind of a melodic baseline. And a lot of the songs on this album are extended well beyond their studio counterparts time-wise, letting the listener enjoy the special instrumental grooves, periods of drum and bass, and more. The super-slowed-down, crawling skank on this version of “Burnin’ and Lootin'” is something worth hearing as well. Disc two of this album contains the awesome song “Positive Vibration” and a medley containing the songs “Get Up, Stand Up,” “No More Trouble,” and “War.”

Album highlights: “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Road Block),” “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry),” “Introduction + Trenchtown Rock,” “No Woman, No Cry,” “Roots Rock Reggae”…basically every track on here. 

2. Soul Rebels (1970)

Bob Marley & the Wailers - Soul Rebels

I’m taking it way back to the early years of the band here with Soul Rebels, recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, and produced by none other than the highly acclaimed, slightly mad, Lee “Scratch” Perry. This album is more “simple-sounding” to me than the others. It has more of a basic instrumental setup, with less of a dubby sound than the later bass-heavy versions of songs emphasized. The reason I love this album so much is it captures most of the original band in their early form, before signing on to major labels. Bob’s youthful voice fittingly asks listeners to “Try Me” on track two. Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh lend their backing vocals throughout the album, and the trio sound wonderful singing together (Peter Tosh on the lower vocal range and Bunny Wailer on the higher side. Funny note: I used to think Bunny Wailer’s vocals were that of a female until I learned more about the band). Tosh sings main vocals on the songs “No Sympathy” and “400 Years,” showcasing his militant demeanor and knack for pointing out injustices. I also love the song “It’s Alright” a lot, it’s one of my favorites, actually—and when you first hear it, the exciting thing is you don’t know that it’s a reggae song right away. In fact, it could be considered a rockers jam.

Another thing worth noting: I never liked the cover art on this album. It has no connection to the subject matter whatsoever. Apparently, the band felt the same as I, and they weren’t consulted about it before the album was released.

Album highlights: “Try Me”, “It’s Alright”, “No Sympathy,” “400 Years” 

1. Burnin’ (1973)

Bob Marley & the Wailers - Burnin'

And here it is, arguably the best Bob Marley & the Wailers album, Burnin’. Why is it #1, you ask? Well first of all, it contains an awesome version of “Duppy Conqueror,” a song that stands out to me for its melody and message.

“Yes me friend, me good friend / Dem set me free again… / The bars could not hold me / Force could not control me / They tried to keep me down / But Jah put I around…”

It’s the kind of song that empowers you to overcome oppression of any kind, whether it’s a prison cell in Kingston or any kind of government institution. Connection to and acknowledgement of a greater positive force will always help you overcome injustice, physically and mentally, whether you believe that force is Jah, the universe, or what-have-you.

More songs of empowerment are “Small Axe” (“If you are the big tree / We are the small axe / Ready to cut you down (well sharp) / To cut you down”) and “Get Up, Stand Up” (…stand up for your right!). With these examples, I mean to say that it’s the feeling of empowerment and hope, and the strength in unity, that makes this album so special, historically valuable, and important for future generations.

Album highlights: “Get Up, Stand Up,” “Small Axe,” “Duppy Conqueror,” “One Foundation”


To cover my @$$, here are my notable album mentions, each of them close to making the Top 5:

  • Uprising (1980): “Coming in from the Cold,” “Redemption Song,” “Work,” “Could You Be Loved”
  • Rastaman Vibration (1976): “Positive Vibration,” “Roots Rock Reggae,” “War”
  • Catch a Fire (1973): “No More Trouble,” “Stop That Train,” “Rock It Baby,” “Stir it Up”
  • The Best of the Wailers (1971): “Soul Shakedown Party,” “Soon Come,” “Cheer Up,” “Back Out,” “Do It Twice”
  • Natty Dread (1974): “No Woman, No Cry,” “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Road Block),” “Talkin’ Blues,” “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)”

If you agree or disagree with my Top 5 albums, let me know in the comments! And, of course, check out the Bob Marley & the Wailers discography on Murfie.


Kayla Liederbach
@djkaylakush

Kayla manages social media and customer support at Murfie. You can hear her on the radio hosting U DUB, the reggae show, Wednesdays on WSUM. She enjoys hosting the Murfie podcast, cooking, traveling, going to concerts, and snuggling with kittycats.


Last Call: Your Murfie Week in Review

 

Mon.
7/7


[Twitter] We recommended pre-ordering new albums by Anand Wilder and Cloud Boat.

[Twitter] We bumped some reggae tunes on the office Sonos PLAY:5.

Tues.
7/8


[Blog] We previewed the upcoming album Terms of My Surrender by John Hiatt.

[Website] We re-vamped and improved search on murfie.com.

Weds.
7/9


[Blog] Wishy Wednesday delighted a few lucky Murfie members.

[Twitter] Our CEO Matt Younkle shared a cool article about music ownership vs. rental.

[Blog] We previewed Weird Al’s newest album Mandatory Fun.

[Twitter] We recommended pre-ordering Trampled by Turtles’ upcoming album.

Thurs.
7/10


[Blog] Andrew wrote a review of Radiohead’s career.

[Twitter] We reacted to an awesome article about CD collecting.

Fri.
7/11


[Blog] Andrew recommended a few albums to fans of Bruce Springsteen.

[Twitter] We suggested Murfie as a way to #declutter CDs.


#FreeFriday: Legend

Time for our fourth edition of #FreeFriday! Each week we’ll review an album, and give it away to one lucky winner. For a chance to win the album, all you have to do is read this post, then share on social media at least one of these ways:

  • Share this blog post on Twitter—use the hashtag #FreeFriday and tag @murfiemusic
  • Retweet one of the #FreeFriday tweets we send via @murfiemusic
  • Share our #FreeFriday Facebook post (in a public post)

Now, on to this week’s featured album…

Bob Marley & the Wailers - LegendLegend (Bob Marley & the Wailers, 1984)

Legend is an incredible album that can easily be the catalyst for a lifetime love of reggae music. One of the most widely distributed reggae albums in the world, Legend showcases a variety of songs by the foundational roots reggae band Bob Marley & the Wailers.

This “Best Of” collection came about after the band had established themselves as international roots reggae rockers. It was released after the departure of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer from the band (Bob, Peter, and Bunny were the forefront of the group) and after Bob’s untimely death due to cancer. By the time this tracklist was put together, the I-Threes had been added to the band as backup vocalists (Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths, each successful solo artists in their own right), and for that reason you get a wide variety of recordings. For this album, the curator chose the band’s later recordings which have a popular appeal to people who generally enjoy rock n’ roll, soul, and R&B. (This can be contrasted to the earlier, more Rocksteady years, when the band worked with the incredibly genius, and slightly mad producer, Lee “Scratch” Perry).

Legend contains everything from uplifting, radiantly positive roots reggae songs like “Is This Love” and “One Love” to the more disco and dance-oriented “Could You Be Loved.” It contains the lighthearted acoustic ballad “Redemption Song” and the heavy, protest-themed “Get Up Stand Up” featuring Peter Tosh’s militant-sounding vocals. This album made me fall in love with the vast, deep diverse ocean of reggae music, and I know you will love it too.

Share this post in one of the ways listed above for a chance to win a copy of Legend, and we’ll let you know if you’re the winner next week! Good luck!


Kayla Liederbach
@djkaylakush

Kayla manages social media and customer support at Murfie. You can hear her on the radio hosting U DUB, the reggae show, Wednesdays on WSUM. She enjoys hosting the Murfie podcast, cooking, traveling, going to concerts, and snuggling with kittycats.


Interview with Slightly Stoopid [Podcast]

Outside of Murfie, I host a weekly radio show on 91.7fm WSUM-Madison called U DUB. Recently on my show, I got to interview one of my favorite bands of all time—Slightly Stoopid!

Slightly Stoopid is a reggae-ska-rock-punk-crossover band from California that has been going strong for over 17 years. Originally signed by Bradley Nowell of Sublime, the group has carved out their spot as one of the most influential reggae-rock bands in America. Their most recent studio album, Top of the World, stays true to their unique style and features reggae greats like Barrington Levy and Don Carlos. In this interview, I chatted with long-time band member and drummer Ryan Moran (a.k.a. “RyMo”) about tons of cool stuff—including the band’s history, songwriting, tour, favorite music, and favorite drink!

Thanks to Slightly Stoopid and Silverback Artist Management for letting me share this awesome interview with Murfie! Check out their tour schedule and see when they’re coming to your town!

Want a free copy of Top of the World? Comment below and let us know your favorite Slightly Stoopid song (and tell us why!)—two lucky winners will get a copy for their Murfie collection!

Who: RyMo; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
What: Everything you’d want to know about Slightly Stoopid—the early days, how songs come together, favorite albums, upcoming plans, and their love for Bruce Springsteen and vodka.
Where: via Skype
When: Friday, March 7th, 2014
How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach
File: mp3 version

Find music by Slightly Stoopid in our shop.

Check out more of the band at slightlystoopid.com.

Into RSS? Follow our podcast feed via https://blog.murfie.com/category/podcasts/feed.


Kayla Liederbach
@djkaylakush

Kayla manages social media and customer support at Murfie. You can hear her on the radio hosting U DUB, the reggae show, Wednesdays on WSUM. She enjoys hosting the Murfie podcast, cooking, traveling, going to concerts, and snuggling with kittycats.


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

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 :-)