November 2, 2006

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The Blood Brothers, Young Machetes
Warner-Elektra, 2006

Hardcore/grind act the Blood Brothers are a band people will either love, or hate and their new album, Young Machetes proves equally polarizing. Yet, I find myself strangely straddling the middle-ground on this record. To be more precise, Young Machetes is a volatile and highly original album which I want to love, but can't seem to embrace fully.

The Blood Brothers play ultra-caffeinated, full-throttle hardcore/spaz-punk which can be so melodramatic at times it boarders on self-parody. Opening track "Set Fire to the Face on Fire," is frantic, frenzied and furious"”classic Blood Brothers in other words. Other tracks like "Laser Life," and "Rat Rider," follow in a similar vein, with dual singers Johnny Whitney and Jordan Blilie trading off Chino Moreno-inspired throat shreddings.

However, on the more "artsy" songs the band loses its focus. The oddly guitar-less "1, 2, 3, 4 Guitars," plods along on loose bass lines and whispery vocals yet goes nowhere. Other songs like "Vital Beach," and "You're the Dream Unicorn!" suffer from a similar lack of direction, as well as a serious lack of hooks.

In fact, it's that last part which proves the Blood Brothers' Achilles Heel. The band seems more preoccupied with screwing around with traditional pop-song construction (an honorable goal, don't get me wrong), and throwing in boatloads of musical non-sequiturs, than it is in writing actual songs that hold up on their own. As a result, many of the tunes on Young Machetes are raw and abrasive to be sure, but ultimately more filler than fully formed songs.

Still, it would be a mistake to write the Blood Brothers off entirely. Young Machetes may not be the best representation of this band, but it's still worth a listen for those desperately searching for something original. B-

"” Adam Marletta