The Blood Brothers CD review by John Graham
Jul 25, 2007, 05:37
THE BLOOD BROTHERS Young Machetes CD
The Blood Brothers are my favorite band—with my least favorite singers. From the start, the instrumental core of guitarist Cody “Not Rocky” Votolato, bassist Morgan Henderson, and drummer Mark Gajadhar has wrought some alchemical magic with the best elements of fist-in-face hardcore, funky post-punk deconstructions, and No Wavey noise eruptions. Watching them cut through the steamy stage air with kinetic energy spasms is always a joy.
Ahhâ€¦but then there's the vocal tag-team of Jordan Billie and Johnny Whitney. Can't stand 'em. In concert they shimmy through a half-dozen contrived faux-freakout poses like you're watching a videotape of poncey go-go boys vogueing on fast-forward. And that's to say nothing of the actual timbre of their screams: nasal, affected emo shrieks as piercing and painful as being stuck in a cell with a squawky little girl who emits 100 decibel squeaks every millisecond. I'd rather have plague-carrying rats chew out my eardrums.
Oh, and jeezus, some of the song titles and lyrics verge on vile hipster cliche. Previous Blood Brothers song titles—like “Every Breath is a Bomb” or “Love Rhymes with Hideous Car Wreck”—have often trod the very thin ice separating reality from the abyss of poetic excess. But “We Ride Skeletal Lightning”? “Set Fire to the Face on Fire”? “You're the Dream Unicorn!”...?!? Did Lightning Bolt, Liars, An Albatross, The Planet The, Deerhoof, and Hella host a joint garage sale with a sign reading: “All unused titles priced to go to the lowest bidder”?
Such over-stretching is made even more laughable when, in the band's latest press bio, Billie says, “I thought the collective dissent of our generation would bring about positive change.” And what “collective dissent” is that, exactly? Blood Brothers lyrics have always oozed with brooding existentialism and surrealistic poetry—which is great if you're seeking Baudelairean Romantic escapism, but hardly effective as proletariat rallying cries. And with this album's off-the-meter ridiculousness (“Giant Swan,” anyone?) combined with the duo's oft-indecipherable screamo vox, it's presumptuous to believe the Brothers are ever gonna recruit any freshman emo kids into a firestorm political army.
I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm unfairly hating on the Blood Brothers. I desperately want to love this band. I want to clutch their albums close to my heart and sing their ecstatic, transcendent praises to a crimson sky. But yeah, umâ€¦not yet. Young Machetes is basically just another Blood Brothers record. Amazing music. Annoying vocals. And now featuring added insipid contrivances! [V2]