Murder By Death

True Endeavors presents - Late Show

Murder By Death

Mutts (solo), The Sharrows

Friday, January 18th 2013

9:30 pm

This event is 18 and over

UW Students pay $10 at the door with Student ID

Murder By Death
Murder By Death
They may call Bloomington, Indiana, home, but since their 2000 formation, Murder by Death have been a band without musical borders. Theirs is a world where Old West murder ballads mingle with rock-injected Western classicism; where an album's sequencing can take listeners from a haunted back alley in rural Mexico to a raucous Irish pub. All of which is to say, Murder by Death albums don't just str
ing together songs; they create experiences. With their fifth album (and second for Vagrant), Good Morning, Magpie (04/06/10), Murder by Death continue the tradition of border expansion that drove career standouts like 2006's In Bocca al Lupo and 2008's Red of Tooth and Claw. The difference, however, is that this time, the band literally went off the map to get there.

"Going into the woods helped me write in a way I never would've been able to otherwise," says singer/guitarist Adam Turla, recalling the 2009 retreat into the Tennessee mountains during which, armed with little more than a tent, a fishing pole and a notebook, he wrote the 11 songs that would become Good Morning, Magpie. "There were days where I'd sit down and write for seven hours, make dinner, and then sit down and write late into the night with my little camp light going: just intense, nonstop sessions of pure writing. I've never worked that way, ever, because with all the business of being a band, I've never had so little to do! Every day I was either cooking, hiking while writing, or writing. I didn't speak to a single person the whole time."

Be that as it may, Good Morning, Magpie still speaks volumes. Recorded at Bloomington's Farm Fresh Studios with Jake Belser (who most recently worked with MBD on their all-instrumental soundtrack to Jeff Vandermeer's 2009 book Finch), and mixed by Grammy-winning Red of Tooth and Claw producer Trina Shoemaker, the album weaves 11 disparate stories into a whole that's unlike anything else in the band's catalog. "These songs definitely come together as an album; we just aren't relying on a concept this time," says Turla, referencing the conceptual storylines that drove Murder by Death's last two albums as well as 2002's Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them? "Being out in the woods with no pressure freed me up to explore different moods and different stories, all of which became linked through the experience I had writing them: just that sheer sprint of working in isolation."

With its junk-pile percussion and ramshackle Vaudevillian flow, "You Don't Miss Twice" is the only song on Good Morning, Magpie that directly references Turla's time in the woods—but the song's spirit informs much of what surrounds it. "I was telling a friend how I thought this was our most upbeat record, and his reply was, 'Seriously?'" Turla recalls, laughing. "But 'upbeat' doesn't necessarily mean 'happy.' Take a song like 'Yes'—it's got this fun, shuffling beat and this amazingly catchy melody from Sarah [Balliet, cello], but the lyrics are all about accepting death. Or 'Whiskey in the World,' which is basically a sad bastard's lament about how the whiskey that makes this character enjoy life is also what condemns him. That duality between the music and the lyrics is something we haven't done much until now."

Even though it was written in isolation, Good Morning, Magpie came together over six weeks of rehearsals back in Bloomington—ultimately marking the first time the band recorded a full-length at home. "We ultimately just decided to record in Bloomington because we had a friend here [Belser] with his own studio, and he'd already done a great job with the Finch soundtrack and our B-sides and 7-inches; and we also lucked out and had Trina [Shoemaker] basically making herself available to help us mix whenever we were finished. So then we started thinking, "Man, we have all this time to ourselves; we should just bring in our friends—musicians from Bloomington and Louisville, Kentucky, which is about 75 miles away—and just play parts here and there. It was great—the album ended up with a lot of different instrumentation, and we paid everyone in whiskey."

In keeping with Murder by Death tradition, whiskey also plays muse to a handful of Good Morning, Magpie's songs—including the Balliet-penned opener, "Kentucky Bourbon," which sounds like a Bulleit jingle spun through an old Victrola. But as the album progresses, the songs wind through other locales and moods: from eerie Southern-gothic territory (the creeping, uneasy "White Noise") to an old Spanish cabaret ("On the Dark Streets Below") to the high-noon drama of the title track—itself inspired equally by Welsh legend (the title references a tale of the magpie as Satan's messenger) and the American West. No mere genre exercise, Good Morning, Magpie feels like a travelogue from a band that's logged the miles to write from experience.

"Travel is a big part of this band's reason for being," says Turla, noting that the past few years have seen Murder by Death's passports stamped in Alaska, Greece, Norway and the Italian island of Sardinia, among other far-flung locales. They have challenged their fans to book them all over the world - in as many unique places as possible. "I personally love the sense of variety you get from traveling, and I'm sure that idea influenced the way I approached a lot of these songs. Trying to use different styles and throw in different influences—whether it's the way you turn a phrase or play a certain note—you can suggest different places," he concludes. "That's the fun of fiction; that's the fun of movies, and music can have that effect, too. It's all about being able to transport people to another place."
Mutts (solo)
Mutts (solo)
Chicago’s Mutts are a keys/bass/drums trio who have been described as “Tom Waits fronting a garage band” by Time Out Magazine, and “what Queens Of The Stone Age would sound like if they ditched the guitars and started playing some dirty sounding organs” by Loud Loop Press.

But wait just one minute. On their 3rd LP – Object Permanence – the gritty trio sheds all amplification and goes clean. This is quite the risky move for a band that wasn’t easily categorized to begin with. Just when it seems that press and promoters are finally getting comfortable with the band’s sound (recently performing for Consequence of Sound, Daytrotter and booked at top-tier venues regionally alongside Murder by Death, Astronautalis and Maps & Atlases among others), Mutts is switching up their sound. This proves that they belong in an echelon with true artists; they are not a band concerned with categorization or making decisions based on career moves. Mutts was formed as a musical catharsis, and they’ve continued to make music for art’s sake over the past four years. And in typical playful Mutts fashion, their sonic switch-up Object Permanence, is a timeless-sounding response to the increasingly turbulent trend-shifts in music, pop culture and a class-divided society.

The album was recorded and mixed by Manny Sanchez at Chicago’s I.V. Lab Studio. It was released April 2nd, 2013 on 180g Gold-Translucent Vinyl, CD and digital download via Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon and select indie shops around the Midwest. Mutts celebrated the release with a nearly sold out hometown show at Hideout Inn on April 4th, and appearances supporting their new LP on Daytrotter, WGN national TV, NPR’s Chicago affiliate WBEZ, Audio Tree Live, WXRT, and a two-month release tour stretching from Missouri to New York.

Object Permanence is also the fulfillment of a $10,000 Double-LP Kickstarter campaign, in which they recorded one acoustic and one amplified album.

Less than a year after releasing it’s debut LP, Mutts released their follow-up LP – Separation Anxiety – on August 2, 2012. The album received immediate praise for the beautiful split-color “Mending Wall” vinyl, available along with CD and name-your-price digital download at http://download.muttsmusic.com. Separation Anxiety made the CMJ Top Adds chart at #15 on August 21, and then became the second Mutts release to chart on the CMJ Top 200 in 2012, peaking at #72 over it’s six week run.

Separation Anxiety finds the band back with engineer Jon Alvin, who recorded the first three Mutts EPs in 2009-2010. Spending four days at The Chrome Attic in Crystal Lake, IL, the band tracked the 7 songs they had prepared and wrote 3 more on the spot.

The band says that “going into this session we challenged ourselves to try something new on each track.” Recording live with minimal overdubs, Mutts sound like veteran artists with a fresh set of tools. And on their fifth release, Maimone still finds new ground to break lyrically, addressing the anxiety involved in coming out to his parents, exclusion in modern Christianity and politics, and finding new angles for social commentary on class warfare, divisive media, and the age of instant gratification.

Mutts released their debut album, Pray for Rain, on December 13th, 2011. It earned a #8 spot on the CMJ Adds Chart, then charted for six consecutive weeks on the Top 200, peaking at #107 twice. It was named one of the top Chicago albums of 2011 by The Huffington Post and received praise in national magazines Alternative Press, The Big Takeover and The Deli. Mutts were also named Chicago’s Emerging Artist of 2011 by The Deli Magazine.

In their first year together Mutts independently put out 3 EPs: Pretty Pictures, We Float and The Tells of Parallels. Developing a unique, genre-bending sound, Mutts were already “poised to become one of Chicago’s top acts,” according to Loud Loop Press.

Outside of the studio, Mutts quickly fulfilled the buzz garnered by their recordings and Chicago music scene pedigree (as members of: Bailiff, Wax on Radio, Hush Sound, Empires, Suns, 8-Bit Tiger, Big Science, This is Cinema and Company of Thieves). By their second year together, the band was headlining at staple Chicago venues including The Empty Bottle, Double Door and Subterranean. Throughout 2011 they also hit the road often, while still holding down part-time jobs, bringing their unique sound throughout the Midwest and to the East Coast.

In 2012 their prolific studio work and constant “weekend warrior” touring culminated in several festival appearances, including Milwaukee’s Summerfest opening for Young the Giant, Chicago’s Do Division opening for Murder By Death, and opening for Maps and Atlases on the UW Terrace in Madison. An action-packed Summer, in turn, has kept the buzz going from Pray for Rain right into their new release on August 2nd. The first single, “Half Mile,” was featured on the CMJ and Chicago Mixtapes, “God, Country, Grave” was featured on the Lollapalooza episode of Local Anesthetic on Chicago’s WXRT 93.1FM, and the album is scheduled for national radio distribution August 21st.
The Sharrows
The Sharrows
The time has come to suit up for liberty and ride. With words like steel-tipped whips, into the soul of America we go, where rage and nights that flame with fire prevail. Your feet may be cold, your heart’s been sold, but don’t let it stay; there’s nothing worse than too late.
Venue Information:
High Noon Saloon
701A E. Washington Ave
Madison, WI, 53703
http://www.high-noon.com/