Blood Brothers – Young Machetes

Ah, Blood Brothers, ah, the oughts. No, I will not call them the “naughties” and no I will not weep. After less than two years of post-millenial pre-9/11 Postal Service inspired technological optimism we were cast into a world where we learned just how irrelevant we were. University was fun, post-university was fun too, but all the whiskey in the world (and we drank it all) only reminded us that…no, not us, just me. Probably some other people too. But at least me. All the whiskey in the world only reminded me that all that angst was a) correct and b) pointless. I’d like to think that the B-Bros were some kind of musical apotheosis, all screamy yet melodic, fun yet core, but eh, I just wanted to imagine myself screaming while I wore my colourful shirts.

I still wear colourful shirts. And here’s the end for the Brothers, at least for now, a band that long ago I really wanted to like because I wanted to like this girl, then actually liked by the time we (girl and I) barely knew each other, then forgot about for five years or so. It’s 2012 and I think the yelling is missing its home. This one’s from 2006, so I think it was still before YouTube and Facebook were ubiquitous (Timeline tells me I got FB in 2005 but I wasn’t really using it) so there wasn’t the whole “connected world” angst, nor the post-that revival of honesty. The time for this was on its way out. I had Arcade Fire, who needs ungrounded yelling when you’ve got being genuinely upset?

So this album is more melodic than it is screaming. The lead singer sounds as hilariously gay as ever, but he’s farther down in the mix. Everything sounds more mature than previous recordings; there’s less about idealistic love and fields of erections, though that’s out there in the ether. Unfortch, the aesthetic doesn’t work as well. At their heart, B-Bros were about teenage-style emotional release, and trying to write, you know, good songs, they’re in a bit too deep, and trying to split the difference is never as fun when it’s moshing drumbeats and jagged guitars you’re talking. The problem is that they always had a great melodic sense, here they’re pushing it harder out of aging (I’m losing my hair too, I know the temptation) or a longing for success. Probably the former. But it results in a subjugation of the hardcore elements, the parts that made their more difficult songs seem out of touch. It was like chasing rising balloons listening to earlier albums, here it’s like bending over to pick up deflated ones. Of course, that’s over the top. These are still solid songs. I’ll explain.
The album holds together for about half of its length on the base of disconnected, awesome efforts. “Set Fire to the Face on Fire” is the best combination of melody and -core (and really really fast drums in the chorus) here. It makes you want to burn things but you can also run to it. Neat! Single “Laser Life” is much the same, but with less flame. “Vital Beach” and “We Ride Skeletal Lightning” fill about the same gap in your life, combining nifty guitar riffs with hooks that yell at you until you feel slightly inferior. “Spit Shine Your Black Clouds” isn’t a particularly Blood Brothersy song; it sounds like a more aggressive Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or Hot Chip song, but it’s solid. And that’s it, “man.” Shit’s broken up horribly with some misguided dub thing, they make a song from Glee for angry queers (I love you guys!), they try to reclaim past hardcore glory thrice (they’re artists in an ambulance?), they do the same once more but I wanted to make a silly joke, then there’s an actually decent Sandanista! impression, then there’s a closer that’s no “Devastator”, not in the least because it’s called “Giant Swan” and then it’s all over and I’ve described nearly every song in pithy detail.

At least to mine ears, the B-Bros were born of a world of confusion. And I don’t feel confused anymore. Still angsty and irresponsible, sure, but not in any doubt about what’s going on. So I can only get behind the anarchy when I feel like getting lost in the recent past. This isn’t a bad album; it just smells like getting high and complaining. with your third-year friends. And it sounds like a talented band that isn’t sure where to turn.

6/10

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Blood Brothers – Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck

Doesn’t it, though? If you didn’t know the title track was great, here’s one more chance to listen and listen. Protagonist leaves lover for prettier girl, is in car crash, no has nobody, last five seconds make listener automatically raise arms then drop them at the exactly correct time. aaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!  If you don’t like it you’ll die miserably. The last five seconds, at least. There is a lot of screamy gay soundin’ guy and it’s easy to see why that might bother you.

Aren’t you sad to know the time for this has passed? What are today’s 19yos with anti-eyebrows listening to?

But it was nice of them to release an EP that’s almost as long as the parent album. I bet all the extras are just as good as the album as well!

“Ladies and Gentlemen” is a typical quiet-loud (x 100) number, but it’s too about-nothing to work well, and there’s no solid hook here to tie it together. The dynamics lurch back and forth without good reason. The lyrics might be fantastic, but they aren’t included, so I sure as shit can’t tell. Hey, know what’s a good joke? Next time you’re going through a door at the same time as a girl, aggressively go through first then say “laddies first!” Works every time!

“Metronomes” is neat for having a metronomic (surprise!) beat. You can almost hear the brush going from tick to tock but not really, and it feels eerie and neat-o. It’s unusual for the band for staying quiet throughout, but the main vein about “keeping beat to the butchery” sounds too Diablo and it needs more emotion to keep the faith going. Hey, know a funny joke? Video tape yourselves grabbing a stranger’s cell phone, smashing it, then handing them a thousand dollars. The immediate reaction will be hilarious! Send me the video. And some money.

The “alt. version” of “Crimes” is the same until the chorus-like apogee, when – surprise! – it goes into a flaccid little solo instead of getting all melodic and good before returning to the exact way of the original post-melodic bit. Graaaaate. Hey! here’s a funny joke: “I was going down on this girl the other day and I tasted something just like horse semen, and I said ‘aw! so that’s how grandma died!'”

The “alt. version” of “Peacock Skeleton with Crooked Feathers” is a dub-like version, and has a rapper in the opener saying something about “blood to the blood brothers.” It’s too horrible to even contemplate. Hey, here’s a joke: whaddaya call a woman who sleeps around? Her name!

The remix of “Anthrax” is a nice excuse to have some white noise for a while, then a mediocre Gang of Four cover. Oh boy! At least I’m reviewing it so that I never have to hear it again. By the way, it’s not a remix, it’s a cover. I don’t know how you guys possibly didn’t know the difference. I know you’re listening.

Then there’s a live version of the title track, and it’s completely unnecessary. Whatever, “man”. I’m lonely. I remembered this CD as good. But it’s not good at all! I’m confused.

Fuck off, objectivist scum!

3/10

Blood Brothers – Crimes

Funcore! The Blood Brothers exist in a parallel universe. It’s a wonderfully erudite, horribly Gigeresque place where reality doesn’t apply and every drop of blood is a novel. The trick, of course, is that their world is indistinguishable from ours; like electron spin it’s only different because it simply is different.

Being a bit older, I can appreciate it more now. But at the same time I don’t care as much. Between the catchy parts (and there are many of them) this album is a crazy spinning painting. The lyrics are endlessly amusing and yet they don’t absorb at all when I’m listening. It’s a time and place that is permanently insanely drunk, a step away from whispering and dreaming at the same time. But it’s the opposite of Patrick Bateman’s America; there is a permanent catharsis. Every word is a howl. Or as they once put it themselves, every breath is a bomb. But I’m older now. I’m fucked and I don’t care anymore. That’s a reflection on me, not on the music.

I always liked this album more, because it makes more fucking sense. It’s more music than it is screaming (maybe for the best, because screamy guy sounds really, really gay by this point, and not normal gay, like gay mixed with Pinhead from Hellraiser but the other guy sounds better than ever!), and the songs are more clearly about things. It’s all a spot of genius, like a Burroughs on crank (not a real drug I think) instead of heroin. Depression enough that they fucking talk about it sometimes. I like to talk about it

The problem is the five songs I don’t care about. But the other ones! “Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck” (don’t be too superficial a lover – you might be horribly disfigured in a car crash), “Crimes” (classic rotten lovers tale), “Trash Flavored Trash” (I hate society), “Rats and Rats and Rats for Candy (not sure but it sounds bad for both the title character and the rats not to mention the sheer joy of just saying the name of the song), and “Teen Heat” (= apocalypse) get the point across while keeping me pert with musical interest. Your mileage on the rest varies based on how much you like being yelled obscene poetry at over screamy music. But make no mistake, it’s poetic stuff. There’s even a couple slow songs this time! But menacing, cuddling-after-angry-sex slow; it’s not the way of the record. There’s plenty of getting screamed at too!

So enjoy it, but don’t relax. And I miss the days of taking this totally seriously, but it’s nice for me to know that it’s possible. “Apocalypse Cabaret” indeed – and that song isn’t even very good.

Say. This is the musical equivalent of hot sauce, I think. Good, spicy stuff. Not Insanity Sauce dare crap, but habanero sauce meant for flavour and to be used in moderation. I tried hot sauce on cake recently and it wasn’t very good. But not terrible! I might do it again, because it’s such a lovely idea in theory. You see what the BBros do to me? What was I thinking! I’ve wasted my life! Don’t be surprised that I like a melodic affair; I was only serious because of circumstance.

8/10

Blood Brothers – Burn Piano Island, Burn

I don’t believe in a magic world where prog hardcore is a good idea. Where are you, Jesus? We gave you our all and now we have this. Not that it’s terrible or anything. Not that they’re really hardcore or anything either, but here it feels like they’re trying to be “smarter” than ever before, steel mink beef music when they really weren’t stupid in the first place.

I realize that everyone and their Siamese hermaphrodite thinks this is better than the rest because now all the songs are five minutes long and have lyrics like “the sea shells scream out a celestial code / melting on the shore inside a flaming sno globe” but the imagery rarely really goes anywhere, so it mostly ends up being like the earlier albums but with longer songs and less hooks. Not that there ARE no hooks (for that, see the last album), I do LIKE these guys, but you’d expect more artistic movement than what comes across as an attempt to be taken as “artists” more seriously.

Generally speaking, whenever they try anything that isn’t a somewhat catchy riff followed by four minutes of mostly uninteresting music with barely sensical screaming (mostly by the increasing whiny and faggy lead singer) it’s good, though!  “The Salesman Denver Max” is a charming mostly acoustic tale of kidnapping, “Fucking’s Greatest Hits” and “Ambulance V Ambulance” actually give having pop structure and a little repetition a try (we like repetition) and “1-800 USA NAILS” would be a great song even if all it had were excellent lyrics and not euphonic screaming in both your ears.

…But all that doesn’t make up for over half of these songs being completely unmemorable and more difficult to get through and differentiate than a CD of early Melvins demos.

Say! The approval office is still open. I haven’t changed that much as a person because of being at university. What was once a Radiohead life is now a Modest Mouse life and they have VERY SIMILAR THEMES. They say that it’s college that changes you, but going to university should be much the same…but I haven’t traded in my dialectics yet. I haven’t suddenly learned how to stay busy all the time and live in the moment all the time. Apparently there’s also a crazy party going on at all times involving the wildest and most attractive people ever. It’s been two years and while I have been to some good parties, no doubt, it’s never like it is in college movies. I’m even supposed to be at a “party” school so that can’t be it either. It’s also possible I’m a complete social failure, but I have friends and a girlfriend and healthy drug habits so it’s easier just to feel lied to. More important though, of course, is that the torpor and anxieties and boredom haven’t really gone away like they were supposed to. I realize things have been kinda traumatic lately for me but I’d better not stay here all my life. And I should just be letting change happen but it’s hard when you feel yourself unhappy in your current situation. I have a psychiatrist now, I didn’t want one. I spend lengthy periods of time thinking about things I wished I didn’t. I’m unemployed more or less by choice. I feel like a Raskolnikov but a) that was a long time ago b) that’s a bad thing c) I’m not a Russian caricature no matter how I imagine myself to be similar. This is 2005 Toronto and I’m going into third year with mostly male friends, mediocre marks, a drinking problem, emotional baggage and no epiphanies forthcoming. Also, I’m hungry. This vegetarianism movement isn’t very straightforward with its motivation, especially if you feel it won’t make a difference and you’re like me and have no willpower. I think a better plan would be to

Ed: Four years later: Problems = same, but vegetarianism = still a go! Some awe.

6/10

Blood Brothers – March On Electric Children

Interesting title. Could be interpreted several ways. Perhaps he’s telling electric children to march on…or perhaps he’s telling us to march ON the electric children, goose-step style!  This is because the Blood Brothers, unbeknowest to most, were formerly neo-nazis back in their native Germany, which is why they’re always screaming so loud that the fence was twelve feet higher than the one outside the church where, back in the 1880s, Reverend Simon Says isn’t a fun game to play anymore than it is to listen to this album because it’s exactly like the last two only worse (and much worse than the last).

Oh I’m sorry, did I just digress into nothingness?  Well I’m not the only one!  …I don’t know what I meant by that either, but I did intend it to tie into the music previously, no worries. The songs are longer (only one shorter than 2 minutes!) but have less to them then the shorter songs on the last couple albums. The dynamic’s still there, but it’s not memorable and special anymore. I couldn’t even name you a favourite song on here (previous favourite songs – “Red Blooded American Girl”, “Rescue”, “This Adultery Is Ripe”). Plus, one of the singers starts adopting this difficult to describe, but partially describable as “whiny” and “high pitched” but better described as “stereotypically gay” voice when he sings that gets annoying reeeeeaaal fast. It feels like they really want to be a more mature, respected band now, what with that longer songs and all, but somewhere along the line they lost the LOVE (except for “American Vultures”, which I have the love for – check out that beautiful harmonious scream at the end!).

Oh, to relive the energy of your youth for about five minutes.

5/10

Blood Brothers – This Adultery is Ripe

Like the last one, but better!  It’s like they recorded 19 songs for the first album and decided to keep the best ten for their second album to test their fans’ faith by leaving “fossils” of not-catchiness, “not mentioning the American continents or the people who lived there even once”s of inability to write a chorus, “problem of evil” lyrics, and “other fucking religions” of completely (as opposed to just mostly) impossible to understand lyrics.

It’s pretty class how they make great songs without relying on repetition (eg choruses) and then when they do use repetition (like in the, uh, chorus of “Rescue” (I think it’s the only one on the album)) it’s so unexpected and great you just feel like…dancing! When the old Joanna plays! Your heart could take a chance, but your two feet can’t find a way!

Speaking of which, I have few albums which are more fun to listen to. Every one of these ten songs is great, even the ones (“Time For Tenderness” and “Jordan Billie Pets The Wild Horse”) I originally thought weren’t as great. Def def def pick up if you want some energetic non-political punk music with tuneful screaming thrown in and a vocalist who adds an “-ah!” to the ends of lines randomly a la The Fall’s Smith or Wang or whoever guy. Plus, at just less than 22 minutes long it’s the best kind of musical caffeine you can ever want. Fun for the whole family.

10/10

Blood Brothers – Rumors Laid Waste

They’re very young brothers at this point, sounds like about high school – but all that means is that they can’t write songs!  The music is actually very punkish, with some catchy bass or guitar riffs popping up here and there, even though the drummer never plays as fast as he should. Why are there no punk hardcore bands, anyway? It’s always this repetitively dischordant bullshit, like an abstract writer who writes page after page of word association without any overarching theme or leitmotif: fun at first, but later very repetitive, even if the words are impressively vulgar.

But we’re not talking about hardcore here!  We’re talking about the B-Bros!  And they’re not at all hardcore, even though even the person who gave me this CD described them that way. I called them ‘funcore’ and we all seem to agree on that, because I’m beautiful. Uh…yeah, even though the songs all have titles like “Gagged In A Casket” and “Boy Armageddon”, you don’t get the feeling they’re taking themselves too seriously. Two vocalists, one who sings and one who screams (not like Alexisonfire where the “singer” sounds really overemotive and horrible and the screamer sounds like the sound of vomiting put into a compressor) to go along with the punkish music. They can actually both scream, but usually only one of them does. Horrible things would happen to the screamer later on, but for now it’s a raspy good time even if the only words you can make out in any song (besides the opening of “Red Blooded American Girl”) are the titles. Plus, it’s only about 15 minutes of your life (nine songs and the longest is 2:15) so it’s a good boost of musical caffeine in the morning.

8/10