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The Blood Brothers

An ecstatic ‘Oh shit!’ moment occurs midway through the catchy and caustic bounce of The Blood Brothers’ “Street Wars / Exotic Foxholes.” The song settles lithely into an eerie calm, warm with sinuous upright bass, plaintive clarinet, and a hazy Hammond organ drone. It’s both blissful and melancholy, and a pure alchemy of the band’s individual creative powers. More importantly it is a bold inversion of a peerless and progressive aesthetic the Brothers have cultivated through years of dedication.

“Take someone like Charles Mingus,” offers bassist Morgan Henderson. “People would hear him and call it Jazz, but in his mind he was creating modern black Classical music.” Similarly, any vague notions of Punk may be too narrow and constricting to convey just what it is the Blood Brothers do so well. “I think we’ve always had the collective feeling that this is our music,” says vocalist Jordan Blilie. “So we should be able to do whatever the fuck we want with it.”

In the waning spring days of 2006, the Brothers converged on Seattle’s Robert Lang Studios to record Young Machetes, the follow up to their 2004 V2 debut, Crimes. Once again the band teamed with Crimes producer, John Goodmanson (who also mixed and engineered the project) and, in addition, enlisted Guy Picciotto (famed Fugazi member and Rites of Spring founder) and together the two inspired a renewed energy and confidence in the band. “John and Guy helped us believe in our first instincts,” says Morgan, as evidenced on the rousing “Spit Shine Your Black Clouds.” What begins as a sly shake across a quicksand dance floor, hungry for hearts of glass, deftly segues into a sour ballad-esque passage propelled by Johnny’s baroque howl.

Lyrically, Young Machetes remains firmly rooted in the surreal consciousness, rage and oblique politics the Brothers have always embraced. It also reveals a new, once-bitten wisdom. “I thought the collective dissent of our generation would bring about positive change,” says Jordan of the election year climate that inspired Crimes and its direct commentary. “When that didn’t happen I felt like the bottom had fallen out.” Still, Jordan and the band stay positive, motivated by the idea of the ‘personal as political.’ “It comes down to your dollars and cents – who and what you choose to support.” It also means music is a microcosm for change. “Imagine where we could go with music,” Morgan ponders, “if we always said ‘yes’ and not ‘no.’”

Daniel Mitha – 2006