This group ventures beyond the territorial trappings of genres until their music hits a cinematic free space where elegant pop hooks, mandolins, cello, horns, and harmonies combine for pure magic.— iTunes
Murder by Death have quietly proven themselves to be the best in the game when it comes to longform yarn-spinning...Every album feels less like a studio recording and more like a well-worn Cormac McCarthy book.— Noisey/ VICE
Over the course of a nearly 15-year career, the band Murder by Death has taken a leading role in a growing effort to unite indie rock with country and folk.— Entertainment Weekly
Murder By Death will release a new album Big Dark Love on February 3rd, 2015 on Bloodshot Records (pre-order available here). This is the band’s seventh full-length album and first since their 2012 Bloodshot debut Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon.
For a band that has built its formidable, nearly 15-year career around a meticulous consideration for the effects of pressure, release, bombast, ecstasy, and highest-highs vs. lowest-lows, it is something to say that this is Murder By Death’s most dynamic release to date. On their seventh full-length album and first since their 2012 Bloodshot debut Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, the band’s signature sound (rootsy indie rock, cinematic gothic ballads, and rousing pub rock shout-alongs) mixes with enlivening new stylistic elements (touches of pop, synth-y electronics, and psych rock) only hinted at on previous albums.
Big Dark Love reflects a different, bigger, more complex side of Murder By Death. As hinted in the title, the 10 songs circle a central theme of love, only in this case, the oft-traveled topic is examined through non-traditional kaleidoscopes: the love of a parent for their child, the struggle between unconditional love and morality, loving to excess. Throughout life, as in song, there can sometimes be a dusky patina of despair overlaying glints of hope.
What characterizes the album is the tension inherent in a balancing act between the melancholic and the inspirational - much like signature Spiritualized or Morphine - and textures both synthetic and authentic in a way that late ‘90s-era Flaming Lips hadn’t figured out yet. The opener “I Shot an Arrow” leads with a romantically sullen warmth of shapely electric bass and swaying synth chords, backed by a boomy groove laid down by drummer Dagan Thogerson. Lead singer/guitarist Adam Turla pounces between notes and commands with his gravelly timbre, “I had a dream too big for the world/ Get me out of here/ Take me to the edge of town/ To the underground/ It can’t be that far.”
Elsewhere, there are currents of lustrous simplicity: take the pop-affected magnetism as heard in the fanfare of punchy horn lines supplied by keys/horns/auxiliary player and new addition David Fountain in “Solitary One” and Turla’s heat-seeking vocal harmonies and show-stopping high notes of “Send Me Home.” “The Last Thing” is ruminative, driving folk, propelled by banjo, jangly acoustic guitar, tambourine, and Matt Armstrong’s charging bass. And later, “Natural Pearl” scuffles along like a punk rock Flying Burrito Brothers, replete with weepy pedal steel and dancing snare pattern.
Through all sounds and textures, sometimes it is the space between the notes that makes Big Dark Love so deep. The vast dynamics take on new meaning through layered, far-ranging and deftly orchestrated songwriting of the album title-track and “It Will Never Die.” The sonic panorama features a minimalist backdrop of warbly synth, Sarah Balliet’s melodic intertwining cello lines, and seismic shifts from a cavernous hush to a climatic, soaring summit, full of Explosions In The Sky reverb and a chest-thumping low end.
Big Dark Love was recorded at La La Land in Louisville, KY in the summer of 2014. It was produced by Murder By Death and Kevin Ratterman, and mixed by John Congleton.
On the surface, Murder By Death is a Bloomington, IN quintet with a wry, ominous name. But behind the geography and moniker is a band of meticulous and literary songwriters matched by a specific brand of brooding, anthem-riding balladry and orchestral indie rock.
Murder By Death's path began in the early 2000s as most Midwestern college-town groups do, by playing to small crowds at ratty venues and frenzied house parties. While many of their formative-year scene-mates failed to make it much further than campustown's borders, Murder By Death translated their anonymous beginnings into a 10+ year career founded on a bedrock of five full-length albums, tireless D.I.Y. touring and performing ethics, and, most importantly, a dedicated, cult-like fanbase.
Since the band began in 2001, their audience has blossomed due in part to extended tours alongside similarly hardworking musical kin such as Against Me!, Gaslight Anthem, Lucero, William Elliott Whitmore, Ha Ha Tonka, and others. Throughout relentless touring across the United States, Canada and Europe, Murder By Death has gained word-of-mouth devotees and support from the likes of media outlets like SPIN Magazine, who said of the band:
'They brawl like Johnny Cash's cellmates or dreamily swoon like Nick [Cave], stomping saloon floorboards in 4/4 time as grand strings fade into high noon.'
What resonates most with supporters is the band's energetic, unique, and altogether consistent sound and conceptualized vision. The personnel and ingredients of the group consist of Sarah Balliet's throaty cello melodies, singer/guitarist Adam Turla's booming baritone vocals and brawny guitar strumming, drummer Dagan Thogerson and bassist Matt Armstrong's locked-down, post-punk rhythm section interplay, and David Fountain's multi-instrumentalist bag of tricks (including piano, trumpet, accordion, mandolin, vocals, percussion). The overriding sound is an amalgamation of textures ranging from dark and desolate to upbeat and brightly melodic, all of it landing somewhere under the orchestrated indie rock umbrella.
The other mainstay signature element of Murder By Death's identity has been built by the overriding concepts behind each individual album. Every successive effort conjures up fresh imaginative and tactile worlds - whether it's the battle between the Devil and a small Western town (Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them?, 2003), an arid land of death and redemption (In Bocca al Lupo, 2006), or just songs inspired by a retreat into the Tennessee mountains (Good Morning, Magpie, 2010).
Official Website: Murder By Death Online