01. Set Fire To The Face On Fire 02. We Ride Skeletal Lightning 03. Lazer Life 04. Camouflage Camouflage 05. You're The Dream, Unicorn! 06. Vital Beach 07. Rat Rider 08. Spit Shine Your Black Clouds 09. 1,2,3,4 Guitars 10. Lift The Veil, Kiss The Tank 11. Nausea Shreds Your Head 12. Johnny Ripper/Stevie Ray Hendrixson 13. Huge Gold AK-47 14. Street Wars, Exotic Foxholes 15. The Giant Swan2006 V2
One of the most fascinating musical transformations I've seen occur in the last few years is that of The Blood Brothers from a mediocre screamo band into one of the most undeniably unique rock acts I've ever encountered. While their music and personality have a rather polarizing effect on most music fans, those willing to embrace or overlook their flamboyant vocal delivery have been rewarded with some fantastic, compelling music. Their latest album, Young Machetes, is the logical marriage of the more abrasive styles explored in their earlier work including Burn, Piano Island, Burn and the bizarro pop of Crimes. They've taken two steps forward by taking one step back and as much as I've enjoyed their recent output, I consider Young Machetes to be their most mature, diverse release to date. "Set Fire to the Face on Fire" is as strong an opener as the band could've asked for, grabbing the listener's attention and refusing to let go from the first acapella squeals. The heart of their most recent aesthetic blends the discordant fuzz of late-era Fugazi with the attitude and ferocity of The Locust. It's admittedly an acquired taste and can be a hard pill to swallow, but I tend to find their music rewarding in a way that few other bands can compete with. It's ugly, awkward and often comes perilously close to beauty as in the final moments of "Lazer Life" and the cabaret breakdown of "Camouflage, Camouflage." The latter is one of the disc's best tracks for me, containing some of the riskiest and not surprisingly best moments on Young Machetes. Johnny Whitney's keyboard playing and vocals have both become much larger components of the band's sound on both Young Machetes and its predecessor Crimes, and I think it really gave the band that special something that set them apart even further from their contemporaries. For better or for worse, there really isn't anyone else out there doing what The Blood Brothers do with any amount of success. I'm sure there's somebody trying, but I honestly doubt they're having much luck. As far as I'm concerned, only one band can pull off squealing like a stuck pig over a Gang of Four-style dance beat and Blood Brothers do it without flinching and then move on to conquer the next song. As I said before, one thing that makes Young Machetes really work for me is the occassional return to the heavier style with which the group began that hasn't been particularly evident since portions of Burn, Piano Island, Burn. What they've managed to do on this album though is synthesize everything together into something that makes perfect sense despite its range of influence and styles. Vocals aside, there are portions of this album that could pass for hardcore songs and there are others that could be the Scissor Sisters. Anything and everything seems to be fair game, but The Blood Brothers are determined to own it all as their own. It's that exact brashness that makes it all work. Bottom Line: The Blood Brothers are a band that seem to evoke extreme reactions from their audience, whether positive or negative, and I have a feeling they wouldn't want it any other way. While Young Machetes might not sway any haters, it will undoubtedly expand their already growing audience and potentially reassure longtime fans who might have been a bit put off by the relative departure of Crimes. As more and more acts compete for the attention of discerning music fans, The Blood Brothers plead their case remarkably with Young Machetes. This is one of my favorite releases of 2006.