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Murder By Death, ‘Red of Tooth and Claw’ (Vagrant)

Stacey Anderson // March 4, 2008

In this Indiana quartet’s young, grizzled hearts, it’s always “Spring Break 1899.” They brawl like Johnny Cash’s cellmates or dreamily swoon like Nick Drake, stomping saloon floorboards in 4/4 time as grand strings fade into high noon. But literate, wantonly nostalgic country rock is a tough sell these days. Red of Tooth and Claw, like 2006’s grumpier In Bocca Al Lupo, runs low on contemporary touchstones or appeal. Keep this on your great-grandparents’ Victrola, though, for a rainy afternoon of rootsy escapism.

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