Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride really did a number on me.
On my first trip ever to Disney World, I got strapped into one of those rickety little buggies and was launched into that funhouse of audio-animatronic insanity. My six-year-old senses were shaken to life by the blur of black-lit color and speed. It felt chaotic. Dangerous. Even a little sinister (Okay A LOT sinister). Mr. Toad was messing with my mind. And it didn't matter that all the neon weasels were really plywood or that we weren’t really going all that fast. My eyes were as wide as pies. After Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, everything else in the Magic Kingdom was slow and boring.
That's exactly what it was like when I first laid ears on the Blood Brothers.
Formed in Seattle back in 1997, the five young members of the Blood Brothers twist hardcore punk into a Figure Four leglock that spits in the face of rock 'n’ roll convention. They spin nightmare poems into a majestic swirl that’s heavy, but not bone-headed "Monsters of Rock" heavy. They're the Velociraptors of Rock; smarter, faster and vicious as hell.
Dual vocalists (“singers” would be an awfully misleading term) Jordan Billie and Johnny Whitney play Good Cop and Bad Cop here. Whitney whines like a dentist's drill, a stark contrast to Billie’s seductive growl. When they put the pedal down, they both howl like fighter jets around the undulating waves of Morgan Henderson’s inventive bass and Cody Votolato’s staccato guitar attack. And big props to Mark Gajadhar, whose spitfire drumming just barely keeps the whole trip from jumping the tracks.
Their fourth album, Crimes, is an assault that jabs you in the gut with melody and then knocks you out with a flurry of pure aggression to the head. “Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck” pulses with a melancholy tune and Whitney’s catchy high-pitched chorus (yes, it's possible to make the word "love" sound scary) before launching into a bombing run of feedback and squeals. “Rats And Rats And Rats For Candy” plops a little pop dessert right in the middle of the hyperactive main course. Billie and Whitney trade furious calls-and-responses on "Trash Flavored Trash," where T.V. mediocrity gets a big faceful of broken glass: "I want to wear the skin of a magazine baby/Take me to the pit of celebrity pregnancies/The five o'clock news is a f------ fantasy." A welcome change to the Blood Brothers’ sound is the blanket of keyboards and synth sounds across Crimes. “Peacock Skeleton With Crooked Feathers” jogs along to a menacing carnival organ that falls right into a pit of guitar dirge. And while the meat of their message is delivered in big loud slabs, the bluesy piano line on “Live At the Apocalypse Cabaret” give us a second to catch our breaths.
The Blood Brothers aren’t for everyone. But if you’re interested in witnessing unadulterated creativity, Crimes contains some of the most brutally alive sounds you'll hear all year. Strap in.
Visit http://www.thebloodbrothers.com for all your Blood Brothers needs.