Murder By Death

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. Through more than 1,000 performances 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 Scott Brackett’s (formerly of Okkervil River and Shearwater) 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).

Larry and His Flask

Musical anthropologists interested in the study of just how fast a band can evolve need look no further than the six upright, upstanding men in Oregon's Larry and His Flask. Formed by brothers Jamin and Jesse Marshall in 2003, the Flask (as the band's expanding army of fans calls them) spent its first half-decade stuck in a primordial, punk-rock goop, where a blood-sweat-and-beers live show took priority over things like notes and melodies. Don't misunderstand: The band was (somewhat) skilled and an absolute joy to watch, but the goal was always the party over perfection.

Over the past two years, however, Larry and His Flask has gone from crawl to sprint at breakneck speed. First, Jamin Marshall moved from gargling-nails vocals to drums. Guitarist Ian Cook became the band's primary voice. And a trio of talented pickers and singers — Dallin Bulkley (guitars), Kirk Skatvold (mandolin) and Andrew Carew (banjo) — joined the family. (And no, you didn't miss something. No one is named Larry.)

Determined to make music for a living or die trying, the six brothers set out in a van, intent on playing for anyone, anywhere at any time. From coffee shops to dive bars and street corners to theater stages, the Flask honed their sound and show through experience, attacking each gig like buskers who must grab and hold the attention of passersby in hopes of collecting enough change to get to the next town.

By 2009, Larry and His Flask's train began gaining steam. The band's new songs are a blurry blend of lightning fast string-band picking, gorgeous nods to old-school country, and sublime multi-part harmonies, all presented through a prism of punk chaos. The boys have grown and changed, yes, but their shows are still gloriously physical displays of live music's sheer power. In other words, keep your eyes peeled, or risk taking the heavy end of Jesse Marshall's flailing, stand-up bass right between the eyes.

A slot supporting the Dropkick Murphys in the Flask's hometown led to an invitation to open for the Celtic punk kingpins across the eastern half of the United States, as well as an opportunity to finally record their new, twangier sound. The result is Larry and His Flask's three-song, self-titled 7″ record, pressed in a limited run that's quickly being snapped up by the band's new fans, who've been clamoring for a sip of aural hooch to call their own.

In mid-2010, the Flask is holed up in their crash pad in Central Oregon, working on songs for their first full-length, playing gigs here and there, and, in the words of Jesse Marshall, "fixing the van and all our broken shit" in anticipation of the next leg of a lifelong tour. Keep up with the band's never-ending tour schedule at www.larryandhisflask.com

The 4onthefloor

The 4onthefloor's new album, Spirit Of Minneapolis, evokes the spirit of American rebellion. That same pioneering spirit that brought us everything from modern aviation to rock & roll. Harnessing that spirit, the band is using it to break down modern music's barriers down to our basic musical traditions. That ageless sound of rock & roll isn't what it used to be, but the rumble of stomping feet emanating from Minneapolis is an omen of great things on the horizon.

The 4/4 beating of the bass drums recalls the American ideal of onward and upward, turning our prevailing spirits to the sky after a reaching the end of the land. The 4-barreled onslaught can be a train building up steam right behind you, the king of the jungle chasing you down, or your wheels on the highway. It's the soundtrack of America moving forward.

Delta blues, classic rock, and a lifetime of attentive listening have produced a sound whose time has come. The energetic and powerful delivery of this band cannot be overstated. Their huge, soulful anthems leave nothing on the floor as Gabriel Douglas' guttural howl soars through the ether.

There's a readiness to be found in listeners now. The fervor of discovery and innovation is coming back to the American masses and the excitement surrounding the birth of rock & roll is now roaring out of the doldrums with a fury. Let go. Take flight. Indulge in life's pleasures and stomp with them.

$16.00

Tickets Available at the Door

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Murder By Death with Larry and His Flask, The 4onthefloor

Friday, September 6 · Doors 8:30 PM / Show 9:00 PM at The Independent

Tickets Available at the Door