Album: Wicked Lines & Veins
Label: Self Released
Thirty seconds into the second song on this album and I’m already scrolling Murder Murder’s website to see how soon I can catch a live show. The album manages to balance a clean, slick sound with an infectious energy that sets your foot tapping and hints at a raucous live show.
The six piece band call Sudbury home, citing the vast wilderness of Northern Ontario as an influence on their dark, foreboding songs. When they’re not writing infectious, high tempo murder ballads they can be found touring as far and wide as England, Ireland and mainland Europe and it’s no surprise to learn they have a growing fan base across the Atlantic. A string of awards, nominations and accolades adorns their press sheet including being one of only a handful of international acts to be invited to play the Americana Music Association UK showcase in London recently.
‘Wicked Lines & Veins’ is the bands third album and their darkest yet. The self confessed dedication to murder ballads creates material which is grim yet never dour, fierce yet passionate and recklessly wild executed with extreme precision. In fact despite the bleak subject matter the energetic execution of the material is compellingly uplifting (just watch your MPH if you’re listening whilst driving).
All eleven songs are self-penned by the band apart from a gratifying inclusion of a Leadbelly ballad that the band seamlessly slips into just when you think the title is intentional misleading. Whilst the compositions are exceptional without a doubt, credit for this triumphant album must also be shared with co-producer and engineer Matthew Wiewel who recorded the band at Deadpan Studios in Sudbury. The sound Wiewel has captured perfectly showcases the intensity of a six piece live band while sounding polished, and clear and allowing the strength of the songs to shine. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye, and ear, out for future records coming from Deadpan Studios.
It’s difficult to categorize this album, sure, it’s a six-piece string band with suitcase percussion featuring traditional bluegrass instruments. But while it has one foot firmly rooted in bluegrass tradition it fearlessly treads forward in to more contemporary genres. The ferocious energy of punk, the virtuosic execution of jazz and the modernized arrangements break the bluegrass mould in the very best way possible. This collection of absorbing songs and accomplished playing showcase a band offering a refreshing take on the traditional string band format.
Like a strung out, nightmare of The Old Crow Medicine Show, channelling the furious energy of Iggy Pop at his darkest, this is an album that will delight bluegrass and contemporary music fans alike. Take a deep breath, watch your speedometer and don’t listen before bed. Or you just might find yourself wrestling with the Reaper and drinkin’ with the Devil at 3am. And you might like it.
“Wicked Lines & Veins” is released on September 20th supported by a Canadian tour throughout September and October
Benjamin William Pike