I first listened to Murder By Death after randomly buying 2006's In Bocca al Lupo because I liked the album cover. During that introduction, I imagined that lead singer Adam Turla, with his mournful baritone accompanying the band's dark Americana, must be some grizzled, quirky, monocle-and-top-hat-wearing Ichabod-Crane-meets-Tom-Waits-type figure. Instead, as I found when the band played The Other Side in 2009, Turla's a lanky young guy with a mop of dark hair and a big wide grin. I remember him flashing that grin when, at 1:30 a.m., The Other Side bouncers were motioning that Murder By Death was supposed to be finished, but they had one last song to play. "They say we have to stop," Turla said, and then looked around. "Fuck it," and they blasted through a rousing rendition of "Brother." The crowd danced like you'd expect of a crowd that wasn't sure whether the plug would get pulled any second. (It didn't.)
This Bloomington, Ind., band is no stranger to Missoula by this point. The band's fifth album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, released last year, hones in on its gorgeous Gothic sweetness, laced with spooky horns and cello, driven by a punk-rock energy. It gives the best kind of shivers.
Murder By Death plays the Top Hat Wed., Aug. 28, with Minneapolis' 4 on the Floor. Doors at 8 PM, show at 9. $15 in advance at tophatlounge.com, Rockin Rudy's and the Top Hat.