Oh the irony. The day Fuego! is released, only through digital stores, is the day there’s non-stop snow flurries around Milwaukee. For now I won’t give a rating on a scale or whatnot, but for those who want a recommendation I will say Fuego! is a ($2.97) purchase for those who’ve already listened to them before, or those who wish to have a perfect sample of how they’ve sounded throughout their discography.
Murder By Death’s Fuego! EP (Vagrant Records, 2008) is the precursor to Red of Tooth and Claw, the March 4th album mixed, co-produced, and recorded by Trina Shoemaker (Sheryl Crow, Blues Traveler, Queens of the Stone Age). Murder By Death’s previous album In Bocca al Lupo, although not as cohesive story-wise as Who will Survive and What will be Left of Them?, was a progression in production, notably in Adam Turla’s vocals. It drifted in style, focusing more on music than sounding like a spaghetti western film, for that reason I personally preferred Who Will Survive… more as an album. The opening track, Fuego!, is an up-tempo and drum-driven than their other tracks coupled with the smoothly gruff vocals of Turla. Notably he seems to conjure Josh Caterer (Smoking Popes) in belting the chorus “I want you! I want you!”, sharing the familiar rise-and-fall strain of emotion above the typical vocal range. “I get the feeling if I stay with you, you’ll never let me go!” blends into the second track, a live cover of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) written by Sonny Bono but notable due to Kill Bill, Vol. 1.. The recording quality is superb, including with the reverb emphasizing each syllable. Each “Bang Bang” thus echoes, accompanied by a sole electric guitar. Not nearly as haunting as the end of The Big Sleep where a man faces judicial death, but the impact remains on the same level. Theme (for Ennio Morricone) intertwines Like the Exorcist, but More Breakdancing instrumental tracks with Who Will Survive… in style. Led by Sarah Balliet on cello throughout the piece, accompanied by acoustic guitar and with dashes of trumpet, the piece is decidedly reminiscent of the best of new and old Murder By Death-a solemn spotlight of one instrument building towards triumph or despair, depending on their whim. It’s a befitting contemporary nod to the composer of the Man With No Name trilogy. Just lay back, close your eyes and let this miniature Western soundtrack roll like grainy flickering film frames.