Murder By Death, "The Other Shore" (Bloodshot Records)
On "The Other Shore," Murder By Death challenges the preconception that Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Richard Strauss are what's usually playing in outer space.
The band's album's often have a central theme and the songs on their eight full-length release are billed as a space western focusing on the travails of a couple caught between staying on Earth as it becomes increasingly desolate or choosing the many uncertainties of life in another part of the universe.
In other words, there's no question that there's life on other planets. But will mandolins and cellos be played on Mars?
Founding members Adam Turla and Sarah Balliet, husband and wife, recently opened an Italian restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, but the new venture has not diminished the band's intensity and "The Other Shore" sounds as committed and passionate as its predecessors.
No matter the predominant style of each song — alt-country, indie rock, folky goth, or new wave — Balliet's cello gives the tunes a buzz that's just as distinctive as Turla's baritone.
David Fountain's accordion boosts the drama on opener "Alas," which reflects the muddled logic and contradictions that often accompany big decisions. "True Dark" has the intensity of Love and Rockets and "Bloom" benefits from the vibrant rhythm section of Degan Thogerson (drums) and Tyler Morse (bass).
"Last Night on Earth" closes the album without providing an uplifting end — "While the charlatans sold water to the drowned/The lost instructed the found" — and staying true to the prevailing mood.
If Joss Whedon ever gets around to doing another season of "Firefly" or a sequel to "Serenity," Murder By Death would be a shoo-in for the house band at the cantina and a few songs on the soundtrack.