Top Albums of 2013

This is the last one!  This review of Grey Reverend’s record will conclude the reviews of some of our top albums of 2013. We hope you have enjoyed reading these reviews as much as we enjoyed writing them.  Happy Holidays!

grey a hero's lie grey


Artist: Grey Reverend

Album: A Hero’s Lie

Label:   Ninja Tune

Louis Armstrong once observed that “All Music Is Folk Music, I Ain’t Never Heard A Horse Sing A Song.” Satchmo’s wit eloquently dissolves the notion that music needs to be categorized and that is precisely what I like about “A Hero’s Lie” – the second album under the name “Grey Reverend” by D.L. Brown. Steeped in serious music theory and jazz improvisation (in addition to rock and blues), Brown was on his way to becoming a jazz guitar soloist when a neurological disorder called “focal dystonia” limited his ability to play such complex and intricate music. Undaunted, Brown purposely leaned inward toward a more direct subtle, melodic, thoughtful, thankful, literate side of songwriting. The highly complex became more accessible and sincere; jazz music became folk music;

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Top Albums of 2013

Here is the second to last review of some of the PlayNetwork music team’s top albums of 2013.  Stay tuned for the last review tomorrow!  Enjoy.

milk-carton-kids-ash-and-claymilk carton   

Artist: Milk Carton Kids

Album: The Ash and Clay

Label:   Anti Records

What I love most about the Milk Carton Kids is the simplicity of their approach and the haunting beauty of their songs. What I love almost as much about them is their carefully crafted live act and stage personas. That might not be strictly applicable when selecting your favorite studio-recorded album of the year, but once you’ve experienced the duo in a live setting their personality and charisma cannot be separated from their music. To cheaply convey the aesthetic of the Milk Carton Kids to the uninitiated, they could be simply pegged as Simon & Garfunkel harmonies with Dave Rawlings (Gillian Welch’s musical partner) style guitar playing. Which you might expect to just be some lofty hyperbole, but the thing is those harmonies are actually on par with the legendary Art and Paul, and Kenneth Pattingale could sit-in for Dave Rawlings on guitar any day.

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Top Albums of 2013

We have a few more reviews of some of our top 10 albums from 2013.  Enjoy this review of Goldfrapp’s Tales of Us.goldfrapp-tales-of-us goldfrapp

Artist: Goldfrapp

Album: Tales of Us

Label: Mute

On their sixth studio album Tales of Us Goldfrapp (Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory) take a substantial departure from their previous record Head First. Gone is the synth-driven electro of “Rocket” and “Believer.” In its place is a lush collection of acoustic and intimate songs that are subdued and somber. The instrumentation is sparse – acoustic guitar, strings, and piano with nary a drum to be heard. But the arrangements are effective, creating the proper atmosphere to take you on their personal and reflective journey. Although the record lacks a true standout song (my favorite is “Annabel”) the album as a whole is mesmerizing – proof that the duo’s talent goes well beyond pop hooks and electronic production.

-Mark Campbell, Music Supervisor

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Top Albums of 2013

We are keeping them coming… four left in our series of ten reviews of some of PlayNetwork’s top albums of 2013.  Enjoy!

danny-brown-old-tracklist1 danny-brown

Artist: Danny Brown

Album: Old

Label:  Fool’s Gold/Warner Bros.

On the opening title track of Danny Brown’s last full length offering, 2012’s XXX, which catapulted him into the mainstream consciousness, Danny exclaims, “If this sh*t don’t work…I’ve failed at life…I’ve turned to these drugs now these drugs turned my life”. Contrary to the popular perception, XXX was not an album about parties and popping molly, but rather the desperation of a relatively unknown 30-year -old rapper, living in a city in turmoil (Detroit), using Adderall to write into the wee hours, and street drugs for self-medication. Now with 2013’s Old, an album appropriately split into Side A and Side B, we find Danny torn between celebrating his success in an excess of parties, drugs, and women (Side B), and reflecting on the consequences of this lifestyle on himself, his loved ones, and his craft (Side A). On “Clean Up” Danny acknowledges, “it’s time for me to clean it up,

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Top Albums of 2013

This review of Disclosure kicks off the second half of the 10 reviews of some of our favorite albums of 2013.

disclosure-settle-album disclosure-sweaters

Artist: Disclosure

Album: Settle

Label:  Island/Universal

If I had to pick one defining album of 2013, it would have to be Disclosure’s Settle. Not only do teen prodigies Guy and Howard Lawrence manage to reach global popularity with Settle, they did so by focusing on a sub-genre that has yet to obtain mainstream success outside of the UK (Garage). As a fan of Garage, Deep House, Techno and other “4/4” genres that have kept dance music interesting for the past 30 years, it’s refreshing to witness emerging talent like Disclosure pay homage to the underground. Each song is an expertly crafted pop anthem, that doesn’t placate the listener with mainstream “EDM” production tricks used by David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Kaskade, Afrojack and the like.  In fact, it’s the unique production on Settle that makes the album standout both as a commercial and underground gem. Much album’s success is owed to the brilliant cast of guest vocalists Guy and Howard collaborate with,

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Top Albums of 2013

This review of Wooden Shjips marks the half way point of the unveiling of some of our top 10 albums of 2013.  Stayed tuned for the second half, we promise you won’t regret it!

wooden shjips back to landWooden+Shjips+Wooden20Shjips

Artist: Wooden Shjips

Album: Back To land

Label:  Thrill Jockey


On ‘Back to Land’, the band delivers a sonic milkshake that smells and tastes definitively like “Wooden Shjips music,” but it’s got a new confidence. Some washes of harder-edged electronic stuff, some happier moments and some darker moments. Miles of guitar solos / fuzz / distortion, of course, and motoric bass and drums. But the mix is heavier and more varied from track to track. You’ll hear them pushing the edges out, loosening the ties. The result is a record that’s more sonically rich than anything that’s come before, and also more accessible. Here, boundary-pushing involves the occasional inclusion of acoustic guitars in a supporting role in the band’s drone-friendly Suicide-meet-’Sister Ray’ stew, as well as tunes that occasionally risk a third chord to supplement the band’s customary two- and single-chord workouts.

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Top Albums of 2013

We hope your weekend was great.  If you need inspiration to get your Monday off to a great start, check out album review #4 of 10 of our favorite albums of 2013.  Enjoy!

howlin jagwar ma


Artist: Jagwar Ma

Album: Howlin

Label:  Mom + Pop

Not unlike the Australian outback, Jagwar Ma released a debut album, ‘Howlin’, that is vast, remote, and baked under the sun. What started as an experimental duo in Sydney quickly became a more ambitious trio in France (and now England), transforming living room jam sessions into an album of dub-heavy, psychedelic dance rock. Their first two singles, “Man I Need” and “Come Save Me”, could have been chart toppers in 1993, alongside The Charlatans or Oasis (who are big fans, incidentally) but the band still manage to sound modern and relevant. No other album in 2013 hit me so quickly, upon first review, and still sounds fresh, weird and wonderful, after 12 months of non-stop listening.

-Dean Sven Carlson, Lead Associate Music Supervisor/Procurement

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Top Albums of 2013

Your Sunday just got better!  Check out album review #3 of 10 featuring some of the best albums released this year.

quadron-avalanche-full-album-stream QUADRON


Artist: Quadron

Album: Avalanche

Label: Alarm/Epic

Electronic Soul duo Quadron released their sophomore effort Avalanche in March.  The Danish group, comprised of singer Coco Maja Hastrup Karshøj (Coco O) and musician/producer Robin Hannibal (also of the band Rhye) outdid themselves with this second album.  Singles “Hey Love” and “Favorite Star” are catchy and fun enough to be instant earworms, and slow jams like “Befriend” and “Something That You Like” are smoldering burners that could make Sade jealous.  It’s nearly impossible to listen any track off of Avalanche without moving a part of one’s body; tapping a foot, nodding a head, swaying hips or snapping fingers.  Quite possibly, all of these things would happen at once, and that is the mark of a really great album.

-Heather Thueringer, Music Supervisor

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Top Albums of 2013

Welcome to review 2 of 10 for the top albums of 2013.  Stayed tuned for another tomorrow!

palms albumpalms-band

Artist: Palms

Album: Palms

Label: Ipecac Recording

I could easily write about each album on my Top 10, but I’m gonna single out my #4 entry because I think it might have been lost on most of the general public for whatever reason, and I want to let people know just what they’re missing out on. Palms is a side project featuring Chino Moreno (Deftones) and three members of the now defunct post-rock behemoth, Isis – bassist Jeff Caxide, guitarist Bryant Clifford Meyer and drummer Aaron Harris. Combining the luscious musical landscapes sculpted by Caxide, Meyer and Harris with the dynamic vocal abilities of Chino, one would assume the music to be equal parts Isis and Deftones – but therein lies the beauty of this record, it sounds nothing like either! This self-titled debut is more ambient driven shoegaze than straight up post-rock heaviness that most expected when this project was first revealed to the masses.

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Top Albums of 2013

It’s that time of year… time to pick your top albums of 2013.  At PlayNetwork, we’re going to do it a little different this year.  Our music team picked their top 10 albums and then wrote a review for one of the albums that made the list.  We are going to feature 10 of these album reviews written by our music team.   Here is the first one, enjoy!

classix album classixx1

Artist: Classixx

Album: Hanging Gardens

Label: Innovative Leisure

Following a steady string of hotly-tipped remixes and singles over the last four years, LA-based electronic production duo finally unleashed their debut studio album this past summer and quickly became a go-to soundtrack for the sunny season. Hanging Gardens showcases Classixx’s seamless blend of disco, house, R&B, funk and pop styles that mixes infectious pop singles with breezy dancefloor grooves, all with an impeccable 80s-influenced touch and a talented roster of diverse guest vocalists. The album also stands out with its flawless sequencing and pacing, undoubtedly the result of the duo’s long-running DJ backgrounds before embarking upon creating their own sounds in the studio.

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PlayNetwork Announces Media Program for Levi’s Retailers

Seattle Company Will Provide Music to 1500 Stores Worldwide

Seattle, WA – November 12, 2013 PlayNetwork, the leading innovator in branded entertainment media experiences, today announced they are providing music programming, as well as installing state-of-the-art media systems, for the Levi’s brand in 1500 stores around the globe, including all U.S. locations.

“The songs we chose for Levi’s embody the brand’s pioneering spirit and push its rich cultural heritage even further,” said Spencer Manio, PlayNetwork’s Lead Senior Music Supervisor for Levi’s. “The music you’ll hear ranges from 1940s blues to 1990s garage bands to up-and-coming artists, but each song was specifically chosen to create an emotional connection between Levi’s and its fans.”

From the San Francisco Gold Rush, to Woodstock, to modern-day hip-hop culture, Levi’s has a longstanding reputation for aligning itself with progressive artists, ideas, and cultural movements. The company has also used music in their marketing and advertising strategy to connect with people in new and surprising ways.

To develop a new program that continues that legacy, PlayNetwork immersed itself in the Levi’s brand, decoding all aesthetic facets from design, texture, lighting, décor, energy, color, and overall experience of the retail stores.

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It’s a milestone day at PlayNetwork. We’re excited to announce the launch of our redesigned website,

During this project we focused on illustrating how our music, digital media, and original content experiences have helped brands tell transmedia stories that connect with customers across channels.

In an age when the ability to drive brand affinity and loyalty through advertising has peaked, brands must find new ways to engage customers and evolve their marketing methods to connect with them outside of transactions. Storytelling through all touch points – in-store, on device, through the web, at event – must integrate and stir emotion with everyone who consumes the content. Win hearts before you win wallets.

Since we focus on helping brands engage with customers through dynamic content experiences we wanted our website to embody that same idea. Watch videos on each of our services, see some work we’ve done for top brands, learn about the people who make Play, search for jobs and more.

We’d love your feedback! Tell us what you think, send us a note



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PlayNetwork adds Justice and Animals Inc. to Advertising Networks

Seattle, WA – October 21, 2013 PlayNetwork, the leading innovator in branded music and entertainment media experiences, has strengthened its leading Alpha Moms digital out-of-home advertising network with the addition of Justice and Animals Inc. venues across the United States. These additions further solidify the network as one of the most targeted ways brands can reach influential moms as they shop and spend time with their children.

The Alpha Moms network connects with 30 million moms and kids ages 1-14 each month in ideal environments where families are social and receptive to brand messages. Brands such as Disney, Saban Brands, and Stride Rite advertise on the network through integrated campaigns utilizing sponsored TV segments, in-store signage, collateral, samples, digital, social media, mobile, and more.

Justice, the #1 tween girl specialty apparel retailer in the US with 900 locations, and Animals Inc., which represents all 221 AZA accredited zoos and aquariums in the United States, join nine other network partners that include Journeys Kidz, My Gym, and Pump It Up. Combined, the network has more than 4,700 screens and an awareness level of 63%.

“PlayNetwork’s Alpha Moms Network just makes sense for the Justice customer,” said Leslie Armour of Tween Brands.

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PlayNetwork named as Samsung’s ProAV Integrator of the Year

Seattle, WA – October 2, 2013 PlayNetwork, the leading innovator in branded music and entertainment media experiences, was announced as Samsung’s ProAV Integrator of the Year at Infocomm 2013 in Orlando, FL. This award caps a year during which Samsung and PlayNetwork collaborated on numerous high-profile projects in many industries that rely on creating exceptional customer environments, including casual dining, retail apparel, hospitality, and more.

Systems Advantage, PlayNetwork’s award-winning, standards-based audio/visual engineering, installation, and quality assurance program, is focused on delivering exceptional systems that enhance delivery of content while ensuring consistency across locations. This year the team has engaged in many large-scale systems and digital signage projects with brands including Red Robin, Brinker International, Honda Center (home of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks), GAP, CenturyLink Field, Chili’s, and more.

In each of these initiatives, PlayNetwork selected Samsung LED-lit displays for their unique combination of quality, energy savings, warranty, and value with regards to total cost of ownership. LED-lit displays reduce energy consumption by as much as 50% compared with CCFL-backlit LCD screens. In addition, Samsung provides best-in-class customer service and support.

“We’re excited by the results of our partnership with PlayNetwork,” said Greg Taylor,

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PlayNetwork and Globecomm Announce Strategic Alliance for Media Services via Tempo Platform

Seattle, WA – July 19, 2013 PlayNetwork, the leading innovator in branded entertainment, announced today a multiyear agreement with Globecomm allowing for PlayNetwork’s custom Music, Video and Digital Signage solutions to be deployed through the Globecomm Tempo Media Platform. The partnership enables PlayNetwork to provide its customers with a single platform that delivers high quality, secure streaming of interactive live and on-demand video.

Tempo is an Enterprise Media Platform that allows organizations to create secure, private networks for their internal communications, employee training and digital display. The Tempo managed service can be distributed over Corporate Wide Area Networks (WAN), Internet Content Delivery Networks (CDN), and Satellite Networks or be provisioned as a hybrid solution. With the integration of PlayNetwork’s entertainment media solutions, Globecomm will offer a seamless solution and experience to enterprise level customers that seek to engage users from any device and from any location.

“We are very excited to be teaming with PlayNetwork”, stated Ed Behan, Vice President of Enterprise Services for Globecomm. As media communications evolve toward single platform architectures, the coupling of PlayNetwork’s ability to create a superior content user experience with the power of our Tempo platform to deliver a broad range of applications to viewers –

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PlayNetwork Wins Red Robin’s “Business Partner Of The Year” Award

PlayNetwork’s Systems And Video Production Teams Recognized For Their Participation In Red Robin’s Brand Transformation Efforts

Redmond, WA – April 9, 2013 PlayNetwork, a leading innovator in branded entertainment, has been selected as Red Robin’s 2012 “Business Partner Of The Year” for their audio-video systems integration that contributed to Red Robin’s re-branding efforts.

The award was announced at Red Robin’s 2013 Leadership Summit in January. PlayNetwork was recognized for setting a standard of excellence during the refresh of over 100 existing locations that included new 55-inch flat panel displays enhanced audio systems, and managed services for video on Red Robin’s Heritage Wall and American Icon Channel.

“We were delighted to recognize PlayNetwork for their combination of creative systems solutions, execution and service,” said Denny Post, Chief Marketing Officer at Red Robin.

The project occurred between August and December of 2012, and included a complete refresh of 122 restaurants with 5 to 10 locations installed per week. During that period, PlayNetwork collaborated with over 40 sub-contractors and partners, re-engineered Red Robin’s audio / video layout and installed over 650 flat panel LED screens.

“This was one of, if not the most aggressive and all-encompassing refresh projects completed within a short timeline,

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This Is How Music Affects the Retail Experience For Brands

Brands today are leveraging the power of music to make authentic connections with their customers, but also see the benefits in their bottom line through a richer shopping experience, deeper customer engagement, stronger affinity and returning customers.

Here are 11 more ways that music impacts the shopping experience for brands and customers…


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Live Music Performances Take-off as Next Upgrade To Sea-Tac Airport Experience the City of Music

Twelve Week Pilot Program Begins

Seattle, WA – March 25, 2013 That music in your head is performing right next to you! That could be the case on your next visit to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Live music performances from local, Northwest artists began today at multiple locations in the terminal as the next upgrade of the Sea-Tac Airport Experience The City of Music program. The twelve-week pilot program aims to enhance the passenger experience in the terminal and highlight the region’s diverse music culture.

“We are very proud of our music heritage in the Northwest, and we continue to have a thriving music scene with great up and coming new artists,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton. “The airport is a welcome mat for visitors to our region and this is a unique way to showcase Northwest culture to the thousands of travelers who come through our airport each day.”

“A live music program at the airport is not only a great way to further anchor our region’s gateway in our rich, local music culture, but also gives local musicians a new venue to gain exposure and earn a paycheck,” said Mayor Mike McGinn.

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2012 Music Supervisors Top 40 Albums (the final 20!)

We round out the month of January with the final 20 artists from our top 40 Albums of 2012 Music Supervision team. Stay tuned through 2013 to more great music coming our way! 

An added bonus for you audiophiles: we’ve built an exclusive channel on our web radio player featuring all of artists on our Top 40 list. Click the image below to enjoy!

PlayNetwork Web Radio

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Music Legend Quincy Jones Lends His Voice to Sea-Tac Airport

Seattle Icon Joins Lineup of Popular Northwest Musicians Voicing Announcements and Contributing Overhead Music to Sea-Tac Airport

Seattle, WA — January 22nd, 2013 Your next trip to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport just got upgraded with the sweet, warm voice of legendary Seattle musician Quincy Jones. In Quincy’s unique soulful style, he will be welcoming travelers to the airport, telling them about the local music playing overhead, giving security advice and even talking about the Airport’s progressive environmental stewardship programs. Jones is the latest addition to the highly successful Sea-Tac Airport City of Music that showcases the northwest region’s music culture.

“Seattle’s rich musical history — from Clark Terry and Ernestine Anderson, to Bumps Blackwell, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Heart and Nirvana, to name a few — is rooted in the city’s cultural diversity. It is where my wonderful musical journey began and I can’t imagine a better place to have honed my craft,” said Quincy. “In doing these voice over announcements, I hope that everyone traveling through the airport will be encouraged to experience the great music, musicians and cultural vibrancy that the city of Seattle embodies.”

Quincy Jones attended Garfield High School in Seattle,

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2012 Top Music Supervisors Top 40 Albums (30-21)

Our 2012 Music Supervisor Top 40 Album countdown continues with 30-21. In these you’ll find a good mix of flavors…hip-hop, rock, pop, electronica, with a solid international flair. Check out the videos for each artist.

Tanlines: All of Me

Frankie Rose: Know Me

Django Django: Default

Frank Ocean: Sweet Life

Niki & The Dove: The Fox

Twin Shadow: Five Seconds (NSFW)

THEE Satisfaction: QueenS

Yuna: Thinkin Bout You (Frank Ocean Cover)

Kindness: Swinging Party

Kendrick Lamar: Swimming Pools

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The Official PlayNetwork Music Supervisor (personal) Top 40 Albums of 2012

Happy New Year folks! As we close the door on 2012, we look back on the year in music. Every year our music supervisors spend countless hours ingesting thousands of artists, albums, and songs that wrap around their cerebellum and become the basis of the branded sounds we create for our clients. But, their own tastes are sometimes left out of the mix (so to speak).

This year, our diverse team of Music Supervisors all voted on their personal favorite albums of 2012, the music that caught their ear and stood out from the pack. We tabulated all the votes, ranking them in order, and this Music Supervisor Top 40 Albums of 2012 list captures some of the passion for new music and the individual tastes of our group.

Over the next several days, we’ll start at 40 and unveil ten at a time until we hit number one!

For a sneak peak into the list that we’re playing live at this very moment in our Redmond offices, scan this QR code below or you click this link!

Now Playing - PlayNetwork

So, without further ado, here’s 40 through 31…

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