The boys that got famous by kicking and screaming have recently released a new album which is whole-heartedly up to par with their discordant, punk rock, semi-electronic standards. Whoever thought they couldn’t top Crimes may have been right; the Blood Brothers return with Young Machetes and it’s like they took a few steps back to go forward. These Seattle natives have been producing experimental punk rock unlike any other band since 1997.
The boys’ formation, oddly enough, was in response to the harsh and critical “punk rock regulations” which had popped up in the Seattle scene. Johnny Whitney, keyboardist and vocalist of the Blood Brothers, refers to these, affectionately, as “musical no-no’s.”
The fearless, frustrated five-some were tired of being told what to do and decided to band together for a musically creative outlet they could market outside of Seattle. Since day one, The Blood Brothers have bent and broken the rules of music.
2002 was their breakout year, releasing two albums beginning with March on Electric Children and followed up with This Adultery is Ripe.
Both albums were obviously just the beginning of one of the most self-innovative bands in the past 10 years. These albums were raw and harsh. Chugging guitars and shrill screams were a signature move and though the instrumentals and lyrics matured greatly with time, some things will always stay the same.
This signature has been branded on the album that made them one of Philly’s favorite bands, Burn Piano Island, Burn, which debuted in 2003- the same year another album of theirs came out, Rumors Laid Waste, which was not nearly as well-received by newbie fans.
In 2004, Crimes was released and was critically acclaimed and showed a completely different side of the Blood Brothers.
This album made many fans, new and old, question if these guys could ever be stopped or ever come out with an album not worth purchasing. Now, in 2006, we have Young Machetes. It’s no Crimes or even Burn Piano Island, Burn, but it’s about time these boys started running out of steam.
The Blood Brothers are known for having the greatest organ sequences and this holds true for Young Machetes. It’s actually my favorite part of the album.
“Spit Shine Your Black Clouds” is fascinating and reminds me why I love this band so much. It’s reaffirming that other tracks, much less exciting and even interesting, like “Vital Beach” and “You’re the Dream Unicorn!” do not hold this album back from its expected and seemingly inevitable greatness.
“Laser Life” is a carnival of a song; I adore it. Johnny and Jordan switch off vocals in perfect time and it’s the peppiest I’ve heard the Blood Brothers. It’s so catchy, it’s almost sickening. Other songs that’ll hook you are “1, 2, 3, 4 Guitars” and “Street Wars/Exotic Foxholes.”
Remember when I mentioned this band being the most self-innovative of the past ten years? Two tracks on Young Machetes make that, perhaps, the understatement of the past ten years. “Camouflage, Camouflage!” and “Set Fire to the Face on Fire” take those bands like Panic! At the Disco and make them utterly obsolete. This is where those stupid, emo bands got their start and the Blood Brothers are throwing it in their faces that they are still better than them.
It’s funky and poppy but irregular and jarring at the same time. Who needs perfect harmonies or delightful lyrics when we’ve got the Blood Brothers to spill the ugly truth? LOVE IT!
The majority of this album is your typical, run of the mill, Blood Brothers purge.
Though I do love this band and everything they stand for and up against, it does grow tiresome.
I will contend that with the fact that most of the songs make sudden musical turns and morph completely whether it’s half-way through the song or at the bitter end.
Some tracks seemed to take me back a few years to Burn Piano Island, Burn which was not only impressive but very much appreciated.
Tracks like “Johnny Ripper” and “Giant Swan” are extremely “old-school” for the Blood Brothers.
Many Blood Brother devotees may see this album as the band running dry. I would agree to a certain extent but I see it as more of a transitional album.
They are redefining the Blood Brothers as we know them and while I’d say this album is worthwhile, it makes me eager to hear what’s up next.