Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Look out over the prairie there. We're assuming that you're close enough that you'll be able to do such a thing without much of an issue. If this is a problem for you, we don't know what to tell you. Not only, are you being shortchanged, but you'll be unfamiliar with how these things that we're about to discuss roll in. Right off into the near-by distance, up above the fertile fields that the rain and the sun either smile upon or they frown in the cruelest goddamn way that anyone's ever seen, there is the burning up of a day. It's a huffing and puffing of anger and violence.
Thunderbolts are being thrown down as if they were pieces of parade candy, hurled from the bags and palms of small town firefighters and girl scouts - this way and that, to fall wherever they fall. The formerly genial sky cooking the blue and white into a shiner - a piece of air that just took a sucker-punch and now wants to get even with everyone and everything it sees below. Everything's just pissing and moaning, the winds kicking up appropriately.
You take a slight right at that point and it's where you'll find the long-running Bloomington, Indiana, band Murder By Death. Led by lead singer Adam Turla, the group haunts the bellies of this charged up storms that make the rivers and creeks rise quickly and scarily out of their banks. They live within the confines of these masterful and efficient storms and how they twist the knife in and pull it out before anyone really knows that happens. They leave behind an aftermath that they allow others to clean up. It's two-by-fours solidly lodged into the trunks of trees and silos thrown two counties over.
The stories that Turla writes and that the group brings to life - with a ruckus and the sound of a rambling train - are loaded with times and people that are the makings for the things that you get tattooed on your arms and shoulders, knowing that they're going to be the ones that stick with you until they are pale green and barely legible, as old age creeps onto the weathered skin. They are the fights that you lost that still taste salty at the corners of your mouth. They are the divorces and the foreclosures. They are the times when you feel like the only thing that's going to make anything feel better is to finish off that 12-pack yourself. They are the times that are your dark meanings, your true meanings.
*Essay originally published May, 2012