Murder By Death - Turner Hall, Milwaukee - 2/24/12
Murder by Death came to Milwaukee Friday night in support of their new album Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon (Bloodshot Records). The group funded the new lp via the popular fund-raising platform Kickstarter. I have to confess I was a supporter and will soon be receiving a new album. They kicked off Friday’s show with “Kentucky Bourbon” from their 2010 album Good Morning Magpie. This set the tone for the evening, songs about drinking and despair, packed with intensity and tempo changes to get the crowd moving. From there they featured songs from the entire catalog, going back to the first release from ten years ago. The earlier music seemed more orchestrated, with vocals thick and southern with a little goth thrown in. It seemed appropriate that following some of the darker, heavier songs, there was whiskey. This only added to the old timey, big band sound, but still left you feeling a little dirty and seedy. The newer material also dark and bleak, but had elements of pop that sucked you in and left you wanting more. At one point in the show, they broke into “Radar Love” proving they can rock out when needed. I’ve read reviews where they describe Murder by Death as Country Goth. That seems a little too general, but I can hear a little Johnny Paycheck (songs about drinking, killing, cheating) crossed with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. They have definitely created a niche, going strong ten years later with a very loyal and die-hard fan base.