Murder by Death – Good Morning, Magpie
The skinny: alt-country. Or something like that. With atmospheric stuff from time to time.
The review proper: Yee-haw. At least for the first two songs, the album feels like a good throwback to the glory days of alt-country (although we might still be on them, y’dig?). Then on track three, ‘On the dark street below’, a couple of disco-style drum shapes are thrown in the mix.
Good Morning, Magpie is the fourth full length album by Murder by Death, a band specialised in mixing classic alt-country with americana and bit of strangely interesting lyrics (they have a concept album about a village in Mexico fighting the Devil). They keep their m.o. on this album too.
Gotta love the baritone vocal delivery of Adam Turla, it adds to the starkness of the whole album. In fact, if I were able, I would mash up some of these tracks with Firefly. But then again, I’m mentally unstable. ‘Piece by Piece’ is another doozy, moving the tempo from time to time; sometimes a square dance, others a chase scene. Suffice to say, it’s one of the greatest moments in the album.
The album is deceptively stark: rhythmic moments (like the album’s namesake track ‘Good Morning, Magpie’) are juxtaposed with a ominous cello, yielding into some jarring chords and string sections. Can’t really tell apart the lyrics from time to time, but the music makes up for it; the message is clear: the end is coming.
The mixing is demanding. Some songs require a couple of spins ’til you can tell thing apart. Again, ‘Good Morning, Magpie’ has some interesting guitar work hidden (ok, buried) in the bottom. It’s a strange, creepy figure that adds to the song. This trick is repeated on the second (and more interesting) half of the record. ‘White noise’ comes to mind…
Not all is doom and gloom. ‘You don’t miss twice (when you’re shaving with a knife)’ is pretty quirky and ‘Yes’ is pretty snappy and uplifting (although I have a feeling the lyrics might not be that uppy). The album closes with ‘White noise’ and ‘The day’, the one-two punch that wraps it perfectly. Might be biased, though, because dropping the word ‘coyotes’ in a song is always a guilty pleasure of mine.
The album might start as something of a tribute to alcohol (nothing wrong with that) and then goes into the usual Murder by Death territory, but if stark alt-country is your cuppa, maybe you’ll like this album? It’s certainly an interesting listen (again, second half is great!). And, hey, ‘as long as there’s whiskey in the world’…