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

New to Me: Newly-found music gems (Vol II)

Many times while shopping for music, it’s certain you’ll discover something completely new to you, only to find out it’s been around a while! It’s happened to us a lot, which is why we wanted to share our stories with you on the blog. Here’s some gems we found that we think you’ll enjoy, too.

Mitch Hedberg Strategic Grill LocationsKayla found Strategic Grill Locations by Mitch Hedberg

I’ve never been big on comedians, since I think a lot of their humor comes from two things: ignorance towards others and bodily functions. I’ve heard a little bit of Mitch’s stuff before and thought it was lighthearted and funny, so when I saw this album for sale I scooped it up. His humor isn’t rooted in anything offensive—it’s genuine observations of the world, silly suggestions about what could be, and a unique delivery with one-liners and plays on words. It’s too bad that Mitch’s heavy drug use caused his early death in 2007, but the jokes he left us with, especially the ones on this album, are absolute gold.

My friend asked me if I wanted a frozen banana, I said “No, but I want a regular banana later, so … yeah”.

Matmos The Civil WarJohn found The Civil War by Matmos...

I’ve known Matmos for a long time to make electronic instrumental music with an experimental slant. They do everything from dancey Four Tet-reminiscent tunes to organic hip-hop beats. They’ve even done production work on the excellent Björk albums Vespertine and Medúlla. When I first put on The Civil War, I didn’t know what to expect. I must admit I thought I had the wrong band at first. While thoroughly experimental, The Civil War explores Medieval folk instruments, Americana and even hurdy-gurdy samples. It’s really all over the place, and though it won’t likely be in my regular rotation, The Civil War is certainly worth a listen.

R.A.P. music by Killer MikeMarc found R.A.P. Music by Killer Mike

I’m totally late to getting a clue on this one, but damn. This album is hot. I’ve been digging El-P since his Company Flow days, and he’s on the production here, but this is the first time I’ve heard Killer Mike. I’d read somewhat recently that this album is basically the best punk album to have come out in the last decade, and I’ll agree (it’s an attitude, not a style, dude; just ask Mike Watt). Everything about this album burns.

Life Starts Here Airport 5Jeff found Life Starts Here by Airport 5

I knew Airport 5 was somehow related to Guided By Voices, like a zillion other weirdly named one-off side projects. However, I had no idea Airport 5 was a reunion of Dayton, Ohio’s own Lennon/McCartney style star-crossed bromance of Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout. That essentially makes this a return to golden age GBV not heard since 1997’s Mag Earwig! Tobin’s relaxed production and chorus-heavy guitars on “We’re in the Business” harken back to the lesser known weird-out earworms of 1996’s Tonics and Twisted Chasers like “The Top Chick’s Silver Chord” and “158 Years of Beautiful Sex”. Sign me the hell up!

Can you admit to recently finding something you really like that’s not all-that-new? Let us know in the comments!

Favorite New Releases of the Week!

Oh man, such great new music we’ve been listening to! Here’s what some of our staffers recommend for you…


Flying Lotus You're DeadFlying Lotus
You’re Dead!

(John’s Pick)

You’re Dead is the long-awaited follow-up to 2012’s Until the Quiet Comes by Flying Lotus. While the tracks often feel too short, FlyLo’s signature production style is in full force throughout the album’s 38-minute run time. Perhaps it’s best to view You’re Dead as one large piece, since many of the tracks bleed from one to another. In that case, it was maybe a mistake to separate them. The biggest departure for Flying Lotus on this album is the inclusion of several featured verses, including FlyLo’s alter ego, Captain Murphy. But it works out well. Overall, a great addition to the Flying Lotus discography.

Going Back Home Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey
Going Back Home

(Marc’s Pick)

Roger Daltrey sang with The Who that he hoped he’d die before he got old. At the age of 65, Wilko Johnson demonstrated he’d do just that. After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012 Johnson, the original guitarist for British R&B/pub rock band Dr. Feelgood, but better known on this side of the pond as the mute executioner on Game of Thrones, opted to go down with his axe in hand. As part of his continual touring he cut this album in late 2013, planned with Daltrey a couple years prior. The pair roll through classic cuts from throughout Johnson’s career, with a Dylan number thrown in for good measure. For what may be Johnson’s final run, this is an excellent introduction and encapsulation of his career and influence. For bonus points, check out this video from his early days with Dr. Feelgood and see him float jaggedly around stage with the gaze that got him on Game of Thrones. And also check out the 4 disc set encapsulating his time with that band, which was released a couple years back. Finally, he announced just a few days back that after undergoing extension surgery to remove 3 kilograms of tumor he appears to be cancer free. Now if I can just convince him to make a victory lap through Madison, perhaps with Richard Hawley in tow…

77 Jefferson Let Me Know EP77 Jefferson
Let Me Know EP

(Kayla’s Pick)

Midwest reggae! These guys are from Missouri. I’d closely compare them to the rootsy lovers-rock-reggae singer Josh Heinrichs, who is also from the same state, and runs the record label they’re affiliated with. This EP came out in July of 2014, and it fits well on a summer playlist since their mood is super positive. I especially love the first song, “Rocksteady.”

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!

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!

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!

Music for Grandparents Day

Most of us here at Murfie have been lucky enough to spend time with our Grandparents (and some of our Great-Grandparents as well!). Music is something that can easily be tied to memories, and musical memories of our Grandparents are some of the best ones.

In honor of Grandparents Day, Sunday, Sept. 7th, here are some albums that remind us of Grandma and Grandpa!

Lawrence WelkMatt: Lawrence Welk – 22 Big Band Favorites  – “My grandparents were married during the Great Depression, so the big band music of that era, up and through World War II, was always their favorite. Dancing to big band music was one of their favorite activities. When visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s house as kids, my brother and I were forced to watch the Lawrence Welk show that aired on public television. WeJohnny Cash would reluctantly sit through the show—accordion solos and all—and rejoice when the show ended. In spite of my disdain for the TV show, big band music, particularly that by Lawrence Welk and his band, now bring back fond memories of my Grandparents.”

Andrew: Johnny Cash – 16 Biggest Hits “I was not at all shocked to discover one day that my grandmother owned no fewer than three copies of Johnny Cash’s 16 Biggest Hits.”

The BeatlesKayla: The Beatles – 1 “My grandpa always told a story about when The Beatles visited Milwaukee. He said that everyone lined the street to watch the fab four drive by, and when they passed my grandpa, grandma, and their young children, they slowed down and complimented their beautiful family. My grandma would always say ‘Oh, Bruce!’ whenever she caught him telling me stories like that, so I’m not exactly sure if it’s true, but I like to think it is. :) The TransporterI got my grandpa this Beatles 1 compilation, and I’ll never forget showing him how to put the CD in the player, turn it on, and press play. He immediately recognized and started singing along with the song ‘Love Me Do.'”

Steve: The Transporter (Original Motion Picture Score) “Once upon a time, I was visiting my Grandma in California and she asked me if I would like to watch her favorite movie. I was all prepared for something out of the black and white era, when she99020-large proceeded to pull ‘Transporter 3’ up on DVR.”

Jeff: Elmo & Patsy – Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer “This is terrible, but the only song I can think of is ‘Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.'”

Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler - Neck and NeckPete: Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler – Neck and Neck “My grandpa loves this album. I remember buying the CD for his birthday and he told me recently that he still plays it.”

Happy Grandparents Day from the crew at Murfie! Show Grandma and Grandpa lots of love!

Photo credit: “Child pushing grandmother on plastic tricycle” by Catherine Scott-Matti.