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Murder By Death
High Noon Saloon
Madison, WI
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Murder By Death
Adam Turla - Vocals, Guitars
Sarah Balliet - Cello, Keys
Dagan Thogerson - Percussion
Matt Armstrong - Bass

Though they've had eight years to refine their sound and vision, Murder By Death rolled out of the gates fully realized in 2000, playing a blend of rocking Americana noir and dramatic post-punk that erased old style and audience boundaries as much as it tested the limits of new ones. And with their fourth album and Vagrant debut, Red Of Tooth And Claw (3/4/08), the Bloomington, Indiana, quartet are emerging as true artists in the zero-boundary sense: cinematic storytellers whose albums come together in an essential whole, and players whose jaw-dropping performances on record make you yearn for the chance to experience their energy up close and in person.

As much as the band‚‚s previous full-lengths‚‚2002's Like The Exorcist, But More Breakdancing; 2003‚‚s Who Will Survive, And What Will Be Left Of Them?; and 2006‚‚s In Bocca Al Lupo‚‚document this evolution, Red Of Tooth And Claw finds Murder By Death at the height of their powers. Recorded with Grammy-winning producer Trina Shoemaker (Queens Of The Stone Age, Emmylou Harris, Iggy Pop) at Dark Horse studios in Tennessee, the album captures the drama and nuance of MBD‚‚s sound without compromising a lick of the band‚‚s energy. And as longtime followers of their narrative grit‚‚equal parts Old West drama and Old Testament justice‚‚will be glad to know, MBD‚‚s subject matter also hasn‚‚t softened for album No. 4. Rife with lust, betrayal, and classical archetypes of good and evil, Red Of Tooth And Claw is, as singer/guitarist Adam Turla puts it, a "Homer‚‚s Odyssey of revenge, only without the honorable character at the center."

That notion of an epic quest rings apparent from the first notes of Red Of Tooth And Claw. Equally indebted to Eric Burdon and Johnny Cash (Turla's vocals have never sounded so ominously haunted and low), "I'm Comin' Home‚‚ sets the album‚‚s tone with a shuffle and a snarl. Bassist Matt Armstrong and new drummer Dagan Thogerson drive the songs with equal parts understatement and brute force, and cellist Sarah Balliet, whose vocabulary spans from Kentucky bluegrass to Western classical, guides and slashes through the songs with colors both in and outside the lines of traditional Americana.

The pace may change‚‚see the Ennio Morricone-inspired instrumental ‚‚Theme‚‚ or the huge, swinging confrontational lament ‚‚Black Spot‚‚‚‚but there‚‚s a sense of forward momentum throughout Red Of Tooth And Claw that drives home the idea of moving inevitably closer to‚‚ something. ‚‚With In Bocca Al Lupo, we were getting inspiration from a basic idea‚‚sin, in the Dante/Divine Comedy sense‚‚and doing 12 songs that were very unique and about different people. But as a whole, it‚‚s just an anthology of songs,‚‚ says Turla. ‚‚With this one, we got the story developed and realized that we wanted to stay moving in that direction throughout the record. The album is kind of frantic at times, and intentionally so: If it‚‚s an album about travel, let‚‚s actually make it sound like travel.‚‚

Murder By Death‚‚s own travels‚‚the band have shared stages with artists as musically and geographically far-flung as Against Me!, Rev. Horton Heat, the Pogues, Clutch and Flogging Molly‚‚have seasoned the band as performers, but the m.o. for their music has existed since day one. It‚‚ll come as no surprise to anyone who‚‚s pored over MBD‚‚s lyrics that between them, Turla and cellist Sarah Balliet have degrees in religious studies and anthropology; however, beyond the band members‚‚ book-smarts lies a shared love not only of American roots music, but of the gut-level emotion at that music‚‚s core. It‚‚s one thing to be a rock band that writes concept albums, but MBD is not drawn to the sort of clinical, pretentious trappings usually associated with that idea. As Turla explains, ‚‚The real energy in our songs comes from stuff like the sexual tension, the murder, the drinking and basically any other dirt you find between the lines.‚‚

Bio by Aaron Burgess

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Location

High Noon Saloon
701 E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703
United States


Categories

Music

Minimum Age: 18
Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: No
Wheelchair Accessible: No

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