Murder City Devils - The White Ghost Has Blood on Its Hands Again (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Murder City Devils

The White Ghost Has Blood on Its Hands Again (2014)


The Murder City Devils came roaring back to life in 2014, with the release of The White Ghost Has Blood on Its Hands Again. Though it has been fourteen years since their last proper studio album, 2000’s In Name and Blood, it is clear these guys haven’t lost a step in their time off. This may have to do with them all staying busy playing in various bands. Vocalist, Spencer Moody, kept busy playing in the great noise-rock band Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death, while guitarist, Dann Gallucci, would join Modest Mouse serving as a multi-intrumentalist on their album Good News For People Who Love Bad News and plays in Cold War Kids, bassist Derek Fudesco would form Pretty Girls Make Graves and The Cave Singers, and drummer Coady Willis would take up drumming duties for The Melvins … a role he still fills to this day. For anyone who wasn’t aware this band has been around for nearly twenty years, they would assume they were listening to a garage rock super group. Truthfully, they wouldn’t be too far off.

My day job consists of working in an office, and most of my breaks are spent walking around the building with my headphones on listening to my IPod. When the guitars on the opening track, “IDon’t Want to Work for Scum Anymore,” a smile spread across my face because if we’re all being honest the song title sums up the mindset of anyone not doing one of the four to five things we wanted to do when we were sixteen. Maybe your boss or the company you work for isn’t scum, but whatever you do is likely not as cool as what you envisioned yourself doing. The throbbing garage rock produced on this track, which is never quite reached again, reminds me of what The (International) Noise Conspiracy could have sounded like if they had focused more on rocking out than being The Rolling Stones with a political agenda.

As I said previously, the throbbing garage rock of the opener isn’t a constant throughout the album. This does lend itself to variety though, and even at their calmest the yelling, screaming, and general vocal psychosis produced by Spencer Moody always keeps things interesting. The biggest drawback to this album though, is the near complete absence of organ. The organ always set Murder City Devils apart from many of their contemporaries. While present on some tracks, it not playing as predominant of a role as it once did can be attributed to Leslie Hardy being rumored to just not be able to play like she did before due to hand injuries she suffered while in the band.

The album closer, “Don’t Worry,” slows thing down quite a bit more than anywhere else on the album, and save for the vocals could easily pass for a song from Modern Lovers era Jonathan Richman. With its low key brass line, and calm yet nervous timbre it’s a great close to an album that takes you on one hell of a ride. Is this the same Murder City Devils you would have gotten in the late 90’s? Not for a second, there’s been too much time and these guys have expanded their musical prowess in that time. But, it’s a good album that doesn’t try to be overly intellectual or garner the mainstream appeal some of the outside projects they’ve taken on have. It’s just a solid garage punk album. This, frankly, sometimes is really all you need.