Murfie Staff Picks: August 2015 Edition

August is right around the corner. Are you listening to something new, or recycling some favorite albums from long ago? Our staff is doing a mix of both, and we have some music picks you should hear. For more staff picks, check out our Staff Picks Cool Collection, which we update often!

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Aja
Steely Dan
1977

“A genre-busing masterpiece.”
—Andrew

80280-largeDying to Say This to You
The Sounds
2006

“New Wave inspired Swedish band with a lead singer who sets a new bar for ‘bad ass’ with her stage presence.” —Steve

377178-largeNikki-Nack
tUnE-yArDs
2014

“Merrill Garbus is the master of weirdly-catchy & just-plain-weird pop songs, and Nikki Nack is her best work yet.” —John

418070-largeWormfood
Jamaican Queens
2013

“I recently saw these guys live at the Frequency and they were awesome. They are a unique electronic, pop/rock band from MI and they kill it!” —Nate

82739-largeOne Time for All Time
65daysofstatic
2005

“One Time for All Time is full of top-notch math rock instrumentals and unique beats, check out all of 65daysofstatic!” —Kael

51527-largeMarcus Garvey
Burning Spear
1975

“Powerful. A must-have in your roots reggae collection.” —Kayla

Album Review: “A Miracle” by Groundation

A Miracle Groundation

In the opening lines of “Riddim Hold Dem,” the first track of Groundation‘s 11th studio album A Miracle, frontman Harrison Stafford sings:

“Without woman, what would man be?”

This question marks the beginning of an album centered around exploring and cherishing the role of women in life. Something I always loved about Groundation, a jazzy roots reggae band hailing from Northern California, is their inclusion of female vocalists in their recorded and live productions. Over the years, vocalists Kim Pommell and Sherida Sharpe have emerged as powerful forces in the band, and they play a strong part in this album. “They’re not backup singers by any stretch of the imagination,” said Harrison in a recent interview we had on my radio show. “Groundation is about a balance of sound—everybody really taking part, sharing the spotlight…this is a part of our one-ness.”

Joining forces with Groundation on this album are two mighty, mighty queens of reggae: Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. Marcia and Judy, along with Rita Marley, were the I Threes—the original backing trio of Bob Marley & the Wailers in their heyday. Marcia’s gorgeous, etheral voice is considered one of the best in reggae music, and she is featured on track two, “Defender of Beauty.” Judy is featured on track six—the title track—”A Miracle,” sounding enticingly bluesy and soulful, combining perfectly with the jazzy piano and brass which set Groundation apart from other roots reggae bands.

A Miracle is a solid continuation of Groundation’s other recorded works. You can expect the previously-mentioned jazzy keys and saxophone, and the heavy, heavy basslines that make you want to fall to the floor. Their live show is a must-see. It’s good for your soul!

Along with the woman-centric theme, Groundation covers familiar ground with their lyrics—the state of the world, a call for liberation, trust in Jah, and the power of music. Within the woman-centric theme itself lies the curveball—because very rarely, if at all, had Groundation sung about romantic love. But in this case, as you will hear on the last track “Cupid’s Arrow,” it’s far from wishy-washy. It’s about real respect and equality. “Respect me, do the right….oh love me absolutely, and you and I shall prosper.”

Track four, “Gone A Cemetery,” has made the list of my favorite Groundation songs. It’s about a freedom fighter who met a cruel end. I don’t know if it’s about a specific person—if it is, I’m curious to know. Besides the lyrics, the melody is great.

Groundation is an internationally-acclaimed band, and their message is spiritual and universal. I strongly recommend picking up this album, plus more from the Groundation discography, and anything created or produced by Harrison Stafford—someone who works tirelessly to preserve reggae history and spread positive music to the masses.

From the inner liner notes of A Miracle: “This album is livicated to the beautiful female spirit: The powerful empress who manifests creation.”

Big up Groundation!



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.


#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 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.

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

Interview with Lion D [Podcast]

Lion D is a rasta singer from Italy (yes, Italy) playing the international reggae scene. An intriguing combo, methinks. Learn more about the rising star in our one-on-one interview.

Who: Lion D; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
What: An intro to the music and story of Lion D
Where: Murfie HQ, Madison, WI (via Skype)
When: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach
File: WAV version

Check out more of Lion D at facebook.com/liondreggae.

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