If you haven’t yet heard of Murmrr, you should check it out. It’s the best venue you haven’t been to, but much more than that. And Murmrr’s main man Brian Kelly is a musician, writer and teacher who was kind enough to curate a listening experience for you that’s all about the feels.
Here’s what he’s got to say about this playlist
In this “golden age” of the producer, music can often sound too perfect, too neat, too overthought. And this anxiety of achieving perfection is not limited to popular music, as it pervades all media, all disciplines. Whether it’s something in a glossy magazine or on a digitized silver screen, the whole world can appear sterile, cold, without feeling.
So I put together this playlist simply to feel. To find songs that felt human. That felt imperfect.
Elvis sings slightly out of tune.
Lou Reed and the gang’s tempo oscillates throughout the track.
Washington Phillips sounds like he recorded his lament in a desert buried in hiss.
And even with newbies like Big Thief, amid the tempered desperation, the guitarist is slightly behind that syncopated drum beat—and just enough to let you feel, again.
Hope you feel something.
And a bit more about Murmrr
Whalebone: What’s a Murmrr?
Brian Kelly: Murmrr is a gathering. It’s a concert venue. It’s a century-old synagogue. It’s a literary lecture series. It’s a comedy hall. It’s where people come to listen, clap, laugh, feel, drink, think, kiss, whatever.
WB: What have been your highlights since opening the Brooklyn space?
Brian: I think hearing Billy Corgan, by his lonesome, practice my favorite Smashing Pumpkins song “1979” in his little, cubbyhole dressing room, which used to be the rabbi’s headquarters decades ago. His voice, so emotionally connected, just shattered above, echoing down the spiral staircase. I sat on a chair right below his room and just listened. He had no idea.
Or maybe it was when Mount Eerie played. And you could hear an audience sobbing throughout the entire set. I cried, too. It was incredible to hear a 700 people share and confront death like that.
Wait, I think the coolest was when I found out from a friend that Guy Picciotto of Fugazi said that the Murmrr Theatre’s room sounded good. Ya have to understand, Fugazi was the first good band I listened to as a kid. It was that teenage moment, that epiphany, when you realize music can be ambitious, beautiful and independent. But yeah, when I heard that he liked the space—I was overjoyed (maybe embarrassingly so).
WB: What’s coming up you’re most excited about?
Brian: George Saunders. He’s a damn genius. And a literary hero of mine! Also, The Residents. They are weird as fuck—and their stage show is brilliant. Also, Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker is playing in March. She is such a special songwriter. Her band will be around for a long time. Not unlike Wilco or the National. They are just classic songwriters.
WB: What’s your dream show?
Brian: Maybe having Dylan play “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” solo as if were 1966 all over again at Albert Hall. Just him and that simple strum. Or if Lou Reed was alive—I’d ask him and the Velvets to play the entire self-titled album. I think the acoustics in the space would suit the record.