Murder By Death – In Bocca al Lupo

Murder By DeathAside from having one of the best band names I’ve heard in a while (it’s the title from the amusing Peter Sellars/David Niven/Sir Alec Guiness whodunnit spoof), Murder By Death also named their debut EP “Like The Exorcist, But With More Breakdancing”. Snappy titles aside, Murder By Death play a noir-ish style of southern gothic blues rock. Imagine Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds but suffused with even more Americana. Listen to the brilliant mariachi horns and swelling strings at the end of “The Big Sleep” (noir enough for you?) and you’ll hear what I mean.

At first listen Murder by Death sound like a kind of darker version of Calexico, echoing their dusty, desert ambience. But In Bocca Al Lupo does things differently. The opening tracks are just suffused with the kind of atmosphere you’d find in a frontier saloon: “Dead Mean And Sinners” sounds like a drunken sea shanty. “Brother” has a melody that swings and rocks in equal measure. The later tracks slow down the pace quite a bit, but it feels like a natural pace after the exuberance at the start. “Steam Rising” is especially the cello playing by Sarah Balliet, which anchors the track as it swells towards the end.

The final track “The Devil Drives” starts off slow but slows until a lone choir sings “there’s still time to start again,”. It’s bleak, but when the drums come in, it’s like a parade. A brilliant moment in what’s got to be the standout track on the album. In Bocca Al Lupo isn’t breaking any new ground sonically speaking, but it’s definitely an engrossing listen.

Murder By Death – Brother:

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