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SXSW Music Feature – The Murder Capital


It was August in Scotland and my music-geek-buddy-in-crime, Shell Zenner (BBC Introducing Wales, BBC Introducing Manchester, Amazing Radio, XSManchester…woman KNOWS her music!) was driving us through the narrow roads, green hills and the pouring rain on our way from Glasgow to Sterling when she started playing me The Murder Capital.

I had heard “Green & Blue” previously and fell head-over-heels for the percussion, which seemed to be in rhythm with the precipitation pounding the car window. I had yet to hear the other two songs from the E.P. including “Don’t Cling To Life” with its frenetic pace and stoic vocals and “Feeling Fades,” a poetic performance for modern times. Each song had so much depth, volume of passion and lasting affect that we just let Spotify keep the three songs on repeat for a number of miles.


As Irish luck would have it, my travels led me to Dublin and then Kilkenny, a village where my friend Maya lived and where The Murder Capital just happen to be playing (on my birthday, no less) at Cleer’s Bar & Theatre, one of four shows they played in a 24-hour period to promote the release of their debut album, When I Have Fears.

The small theatre’s (or was it a former cask ale storage?) stone-lined walls fit 100 people max by standing tightly shoulder-to-shoulder, making the show incredibly intimate yet mind-boggling. It was a short four-song set starting with new tracks “Slow Dance I” and “Slow Dance II”, stretching each out like rich taffy infused with the local whiskey and brood.


“On Twisted Ground”, also from When I Have Fears, lead singer and lyricists James McGovern stared over us and into a virtual abyss, like the captain of an ancient ship determined to make it to land, “I can watch it all as it’s lef like this / So the moment falls into permanence / And the clouds amass, not a breath of wind / But a final gasp, all engulfed within.”

As “Green & Blue” made its way into the set the couple next to me, big fans already, were jirating as if they’d lost their minds…in a good way. Dressed in high-waist trousers and swaying like a 1930’s swing dancer, Gabriel Paschal-Blake commanded his bass with a driving swagger as guitarists Damien Tuit and Cathal Roper released a tidal wave of steel-sharp riffs and drummer Diarmuid Brennan pummeled the skins with glee.


Picking up the new When I Have Fears at Kilkenny’s Rollercoaster Records, the gold vinyl and gate fold with liner notes adds even more magic to the essence of The Murder Capital experience. But it is the music that captures the heart and soul, sounds infused with inward emotions and outward observations, perspectives on life and death, the dark with the light. In an interview with DIY Magazine (see below for showcase date), James shares, “…there’s an unbearable dysfunction in our modern society and maybe that can leave a dull tone in your head. There are lots of beautiful and wonderful times whilst making a record, but many dark moments as well.”

Check out the fantastic Show Stream TV interview with Shell Zenner and the lads from October of last year when Murder Capital were in Manchester at YES:

The Murder Capital SXSW dates:

March 17 – Latitude 30 (time TBD), DIY Magazine Punk Showcase
March 18 – British Music Embassy, Cedar Street Courtyard, 12am
March 19 – Velveeta Room, 10pm, Music from Ireland Showcase
March 20 – Seven Grand, 11pm


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