Murder By Death
Larry and His Flask, The 4onthefloor
628 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA, 94117
Doors 8:30 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Murder By Death
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.
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'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.