Anyone who knows me already understands my passion for music. You also know that Murder by Death is my favorite band. For those of you who are less familiar I will have to clue you in. April 6th marked the release date of Murder by Death’s 5th full-length album entitled “Good Morning, Magpie”. Back in January, when I found out about this release I was destined to find some hint of what the new album would sound like. I clawed my way through internet sites which all lead to dead-end roads. There was not even a YouTube clip. Then, one magical day there it was… a new song on Murder by Death’s MySpace site. I was immediately hooked to this song. The song title is “Foxglove”. At first listen I got a Johnny Cash meets Tom Petty vibe. The music melds perfectly with the almost haunting lyrics. Singer/Songwriter Adam Turla stated “This is the closest thing to a love song that Murder by Death has ever written”. When you hear the lyrics on the rest of the album you begin to understand what he means.
On March 20th 2010 I found myself at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. My friend Pete and I witnessed one of the best Murder by Death shows to date. Just flying in from SXSW in Texas Murder by Death made it to CT in order to put on an excellent show despite being sleep deprived, injured (Dagan) and missing a keyboard (thanks to the airline). We bumped into Adam (whom I have interviewed in the past) and he even offered me his cup of Whiskey. I told him that MBD was the most interesting and creative band in the world. Adam looked at me with a look of appreciation and said “That is great, thank you so much”. The band played a lot of their older songs and a few new songs. Now that my appetite had been whet I needed to hear the record version of these new songs.
Katy from Vagrant Records was able to get me a promotional copy of “Good Morning, Magpie”. I felt like a closet smoker who was puffing away behind the tool shed. I was listening to the greatest album in the world and it had not even been released yet. I must have listened to the new album over 100 times in one night. This album had listenability from beginning to end. The album offers the very best sound of Murder by Death. MBD have grown as a band over the decade they have been around but they have not forgotten their roots. “Good Morning, Magpie” is the follow up to the bands 2008 release “Red of Tooth and Claw”. The 2008 album was described as having an old west oulaw feel while being able to maintain a fresh sound. “Good Morning, Magpie” somehow offers a 1920’s feel with a modern touch.
Murder by Death would not be who they are without Whiskey songs. “Good Morning, Magpie” does not disappoint. The first two songs on the album are about Whiskey. The first song, “Kentucky Bourbon” was written by cellist Sarah Balliet, while she was cleaning her tub. Although the song takes a jab at Tennessee Whiskey, she claims that the song is just “very positive about the good stuff”. “Kentucky Bourbon” is an intro which leads to a second Whiskey song, which sounds like an Americana/Irish drinking song titled “As Long as There is Whiskey in the World”. I can imagine this song being a huge hit in Irish pubs across the world.
When singer Adam Turla was writing this album he decided it would be best to write without distraction. He decided to go alone on a camping trip up in the Smokey Mountains. Adam soon found himself longing for human interaction. His need for the touch of a woman helped him create the song “Foxglove”. The overall feeling of loniliness is mirrored on the album. The songs cover topics ranging from death to all out destruction. The song “White Noise” is one of the darkest and most addictive tunes on the album. It brandishes a deep impending hum which stirs fearful feelings. The music and the sharp lyrics combine to give this song a voice which keeps you listening.
Aside from the lonliness factor the album also speaks a lot about nature. The closing song on the album is called “The Day”. Adam used his experiences of his camping trip compounded with his theological studies to devise an incredible ending to “Good Morning, Magpie”. The song is about a god who comes and reclaims the earth while causing complete annihilation and pandemonium. This song is very powerful and it is at the end of this album for that reason.
In addition to being so dark and eerie Murder by Death are also a lot of fun. The song “You Don’t Miss Twice (When You’re Shavin’ with a Knife)” is an elaborate mix of bizarre yet memorable sounds. It sounds as if there might be chains, a spitoon, clapping and a washboard being played in the background. The rhythym of the song is very fun and the lyrics are reminiscient of Tom Waites.
I give “Good Morning, Magpie” two big thumbs up (I wish I had more thumbs). Come out and see Murder by Death play live. Don’t miss them. They are currently headlining a tour and will most likely come to your area. So whether you are from Texas or Connecticut (like me) or Germany or Spain go get your tickets now. You will love Murder by Death!
Apr 11 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah * [tickets]
Apr 12 – Scottsdale, AZ @ The Rhythm Room * [tickets]
Apr 13 – Santa Fe, NM @ Corazon [tickets]
Apr 14 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory * [tickets]
Apr 15 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s Alternative Lounging (Indoor) * [tickets]
Apr 16 – Houston, TX @ Mango’s * [tickets]
Apr 17 – Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves * [tickets]
Apr 19 – Hattiesburg, MS @ Thirsty Hippo *
Apr 20 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade Downstairs * [tickets]
Apr 21 – Birmingham, AL @ Bottle Tree * [tickets]
Apr 23 – Ybor City, FL @ The Orpheum * [tickets]
Apr 24 – Orlando, FL @ The Backbooth *
Apr 25 – Gainesville, FL @ Common Grounds * [tickets]
Apr 27 – Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern * [tickets]
Apr 28 – Baltimore, MD @ The Ottobar * [tickets]
Apr 29 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East: Downstairs * [tickets]
Apr 30 – South Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground * [tickets]
May 1 – New Haven, CT @ Café Nine * [tickets]
May 2 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg * [tickets]
May 4 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom * [tickets]
May 5 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s * [tickets]
May 7 – Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls * [tickets]
May 9 – Cleveland Heights, OH @ Grog Shop * [tickets]
May 10 – Kalamazoo, MI @ The Strutt * [tickets]
May 11 – Madison, WI @ The High Noon Saloon * [tickets]
May 12 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock * [tickets]
May 13 – Iowa City, IA @ Picador *
May 14 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall * [tickets]
May 15 – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s Rock Club * [tickets]
May 22 – Chemnitz, Germany @ Fuego a la Isla Festival
May 23 – Beverungen, Germany @ Orange Blossom Festival [tickets]
May 24 – Berlin, Germany @ Festsaal [tickets]
May 25 – Cologne, Germany @ Gebaude 9 [tickets]
May 26 – Hamburg, Germany @ Molotow [tickets]
May 27 – Munster, Germany @ Gleis 22 [tickets]
May 28 – Heidelberg, Germany @ Karlstorbahnhof [tickets]
May 29 – Munchen, Germany @ Ampere [tickets]
Jun 1 – Amsterdam, Holland @ Paradiso
Jun 4 – Leicester, UK @ The Musician [tickets]
Jun 5 – Birmingham, UK @ O2 Academy 2 [tickets]
Jun 6 – Glasgow, UK @ King Tuts [tickets]
Jun 7 – Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute [tickets]
Jun 8 – London, UK @ Luminaire [tickets]
Jun 9 – Oxford, UK @ O2 Academy 2 [tickets]
Jun 10 – Exeter, UK @ Cavern [tickets]
Jun 12 – Cardiff, UK @ Barfly [tickets]
Jun 14 – Cork, Ireland @ Crane Lane Theatre
Jun 15 – Dublin, Ireland @ Academy 2 [tickets]
Jun 17 – Barcelona, Spain @ Sidecar
Jun 18 – Madrid, Spain @ La Boite
Jun 19 – Bilbao, Spain @ Azkena
* Headlining tour with Ha Ha Tonka and Linfinity