Label: Vagrant UK Release date: 19/04/10 Link: Myspace Going away to a retreat in the forest to produce an album is becoming an increasingly popular move ever since Bon Iver emerged from between the trees with an album that lots of people liked. It's the same story here and you don't need three guesses as to where this band are coming from. The stench of sorrows drowned in bourbon is so strong (first two songs dedicated to exactly that), it should come with a foreword from Jack Daniels himself though he'd probably want to distance himself from the melancholic affair that is Good Morning Magpie, lest people get ideas and start drinking whisky to forget after hearing this, instead of the conviviality that their corporate hype machine is pushing. Well that's one blow struck in the name of truth and justice already. This is not charting new territory, in fact it's more than likely they stumbled passed an intoxicated 1970s Tom Waits and every country music star ever, on their way here but Murder By Death have a few nice touches that mean, even if this is a story that's been told almost as many times as Cinderella, it's still well worth the time. There's an illusion of lo-fi that lends weight to the overall atmosphere of the album, it gives the impression of vulnerability that makes for an altogether fascinating album. They sound like a more refined Seasick Steve, significantly calmer, like a long sigh as they carry the burden of a thousand bad decisions and misfortunes. It doesn't need the wholly unnecessary mock-advertising jingle 'Kentucky Bourbon' to kick things off, it's a rather limp beginning that would be much better suited to the end of the album rather than the start, however the dissatisfaction quickly dissipates on hearing second alcohol tribute 'As Long As There Is Whisky In The World', a great, rousing number to raise spirits (ha ha) in the face of adversity. The album doesn't really let up in quality from that point on, all the songs here are enjoyable and perfect for evenings/mornings spent a few drinks away from being slumped at the bar. To that end the song-writing might be almost formulaic but there's not much similarity between the songs musically if not thematically. 'Yes' is lively and optimistic, a contrast to most of the album, while 'Piece by Piece' is remarkably downbeat, most of the suffering on Good Morning Magpie is intended to be taken on the chin with the force of a brick, then smiled at and brushed away effortlessly, but on this song it seems more like an outpouring of grief, it all makes for a better experience overall. There's nothing new really stylistically or lyrically of course but there's an awful lot of good music to compensate for that. Great music for remorse, reflection or nondescript pessimism especially because it's unlikely to strike right at the heart, just put an arm round you and hand you a whisky, and sometimes that's the best plan anyway. Photobucket