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The Murder City Devils

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Album Review

The Murder City Devils strutted onto the scene with their 1997 eponymous debut, which unleashed straight-ahead punk weighted down with the leg irons of heavy rock. The creepy-crawly organ lends a horror movie mood, and the gravelly growl of Spencer Moody's voice evokes all the despair of finding yourself alone again at last call. Along with layers of sleazy rock guitar, these foundations make the Murder City Devils a raw rock force to be reckoned with; however, on this album the band is still finding its sea legs. These were the days when Moody still had his Poindexter image — neat Oxford shirt and round glasses on a cherubic face — hinting that his punk was all inside, until he released his demons onstage. The poor recording quality, which has thin sound and tinny drums, deflects from the songs' power. The album has an intoxicating grit and swagger, though, with moments that shine. The keyboards on "Dance Hall Music" tempt with melodic quicksand that provides a backbone to thick muddy guitars. And "Boom Swagger Boom" is a classic of self-assured sexy fun with a playful campiness — handclaps punctuate a slinky spy theme melody with Moody's gruff voice joined by coy female backing vocals. "Get Off the Floor" is hard driving punk with a sly guitar and pulverizing lyrics, highlighting Moody's ability to take a few words and drive them into your skull, making a song out of repetition and varied rhythm. A good choice for those interested in the progression of this rock outfit or those who prefer a stripped-down punk production, but not the rock & roll rampage of the later works.


Formed: 1997

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The Murder City Devils are a Seattle-based punk band who like their music fierce, raw, and powerful, with a garage rock edge in the melodies and a muscular approach that recalls old-school punk favorites the Misfits and the Dead Boys, but with a dark edge that shakes off any accusations of hipster nostalgia-mongering. The Murder City Devils were formed in 1996 by vocalist Spencer Moody, guitarist Dann Gallucci, and bassist Derek Fudesco; all three had previously been members of Area 51, and when...
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