The legacy of Murder City Devils has always loomed larger than the band’s actual achievements. That’s not a diss. They were a powerful band, both on record and in clubs, at a time in the late ’90s when the city was nursing a post-grunge hangover. We needed them then, and their organ-driven garage punk delivered. But after a few records and tours, in 2001 the band called it quits. Interest in the group remained, however, thanks to the myriad projects its members embarked upon in its wake, including Modest Mouse, Cold War Kids, and Pretty Girls Make Graves.
The group’s legacy has also been solidified by how well their material has held up over the years, even if their gore-obsessed shtick has grown stale. 2000’s In Name and Blood remains a dark blast of punk energy, led by singer Spencer Moody’s urgent growl. “I wish you could have been a fly on the wall when I was 12 years old,” he belts on “Lemuria Rising.” “Crying over homework I would slit my wrists if it weren’t for rock & roll.”
More than a decade later, Moody is still a dyed-in-the-wool rocker, as evidenced by the band’s first new album since 2000, The White Ghost Has Blood on Its Hands. The album refines the group’s sound without compromising it, namely by scaling back on the organ that defined its later albums. “I Don’t Want to Work for Scum Anymore” rages with the energy of the Stooges and MC5, while “Pale Disguise” could be a Doors B-side, with Moody ranting like a deranged Jim Morrison over a staccato bass line and pumping organ.
Though the city may not need MCD like it once did, the band remains a welcome attraction, and it will use the Showbox as the launching point for a West Coast tour that will also find it hitting a trio of major festivals: FYF Fest, Riot Fest, and Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas. Murder City Devils The Showbox, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151, showboxpresents.com. $20 adv./$22 DOS. 9 p.m. Fri., Aug.15.