The Blood Brothers - Crimes
Released thru V2 records
Johnny Whitney: vocals, piano, wurlitzer, fartisa, percussion
Jordan Billie: vocals, guitar, percussion
Cody Votolato: guitar, trumpet, backup vocal, percussion, whistle, e-bow, baritone guitar
Morgan Henderson: bass, guitar, upright bass, synthesizer, accordion, piano, laptop, backup vocals
Mark Gajadhar: drums, percussion
The much-anticipated fourth release of the Seattle quintet immediately takes a beating from critics and fans everywhere even before its release. Coming fresh from their breakout album, Burn Piano Island, Burn
, the band did come a long [progressively poppy] way from the hailed This Adultery is Ripe
, and a lot seem to be disapponted that they "sold out". True, this album IS a heinous crime for the lovers of their punk and screamo roots, but do not be fooled by the candy-coated tunes. Crimes
still contain the weirdest, maniacal and most ballsy music, if not a bit tame, that you'll ever find in the music industry today.
Judging from the ridiculous amount of instruments that the band plays in this album, I can bet that you're thinking that they once again changed their sound. Indeed they have, as they branched out to touch and add alternative spots to their already eclectic style of playing. The instruments themselves are rarely praised individually. Despite the more accessible guitar lines, the more predictable drum beats, you'll still hear some of the core sound that you've grown accustomed to in their past records. Maracas shakes here and there, fitting keyboard lines, weird noises and other subtleties makes the tracks a bit more varied, and will sometimes make you forget that this is already borderline mainstream material.
Another big change in Crimes
is Johnny Whitney's singing. If you think that BPIB
has irritating and almost intimidating high vocals, you're definitely in for a treat. Multiply that 10 times and you get his voice here. Bat-like screeches and horrific wails abound, adding some beautiful(BB style) singing, he has really improved his work with his amazing range. I feel that his is an integral part of this album, it really saves this one from mediocrity. When a song gets a bit too poppy, he comes in to spice things up. Accompanying him is Jordan Billie, whose lowness contrasts his crazy banshee-ish perfectly, painting slick textures to the song. Don't forget the other two backup screamers, they join in this powerful vocal barrage.
The album kicks off with the "industrial" intro of Feed Me to the Forest
, and the two singers harmonizing to pull you in. It starts off slow-paced with a stomping beat, you'll immediately notice Johnny, who sounds freshly castrated. It speeds up in the chorus and has a nice little cascading piano part somewhere in the middle. A lot of you probably listened to Trash Flavored Trash
already, it's a somewhat restrained "loud" song. 70's punk rock comes in mind when I hear this track, as the rather excessive use of power chords and trippy riffs are apparent. Memorable line: "and I've done the division: trash into trash equals trash flavored trash." Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck
is pretty fitting for a single. It's catchy and poppy as hell, especially when the repeated "love love love love love love" chants come in. There's a strange ferocity in Jordan's low mutterings, which is cool. This relative quietness eventually breaks out screaming near the end. Just when you thought you've had enough catchiness, meet Peacock Skeleton With Crooked Feathers
. Think of a salsa beat, except with a psychotic twist and you'll kinda have an idea of what this sounds like; you'll have your head waving in no time at all. Puke-like screams in the bridge gives it an edge. "Hey Peacock?" "Yeah, what's that?". The token weird, undecipherable lyrics are still there, but in Teen Heat
, you can tell that this song is aimed at the mainstream music industry(a bit ironic, hm?) with lines such as "your song is gold like the color of piss" and "The Fifth Horseman stuffs the radio with singles until it's sick to its stomach." There's even hip-hop sounding breakdown, very amusing to listen to really. A standout song's bound to pop out, and in the form of Rats and Rats and Rats for Candy
. There's a funny, playful intro to begin with, along with funny, playful lyrics and singing("Oh Candy! yeah! Oh Candy! yeah yeah yeah!"), another irony considering this song is probably about loads of sex and prostitutes. Its strength is on its constantly changing tempo and flow; melody, heaviness and mentally disturbing themes intertwine nicely. It climaxes in the turbulent and rather sad last few minutes. Arguably the best tune on the album. The title track is calm, but drearily haunting, mainly because Jordan sings for the most part. The diva-like flexibility of Johnny in this track will impress you, as he yells "we're crimes crimes crimes"; it's a great, moving ballad that can leave chills down your spine...
The experience concludes with Devastator
, a rather odd track. You can hear an almost whack Tarzan doing his thing in the background, with a choir joining the fray. It transforms into Hindu-sounding ritual sounds, with the matching accordion. Oddly enough, it abrupts and cranks the volume up and becomes chaotic a little more than a minute into the song, which uncannily resembles Rescue(from TAiR
). Then a piano enters, then tambourines, then the song softens to an acoustic guitar, all in about 20 seconds. An artsy track that sticks out like a sore thumb. It doesn't get any more eccentric than this.
Well this album's weakness is obvous enough, as it suffers material that turns off many a discriminating hardcore listener. It does not live up to This Adultery is Ripe
's adulterated greatness or the screamy heaviness of Burn Piano Island, Burn
. Songs lose their frantic touch as the structures are more conventional compared to the old ones' jumbled-up patterns. For these kinds of people, this is an utter disappointment compared to their past works. Evil pop music pulls this one down.
With this mentioned though, it should not hinder you from still appreciating this record's vast variety. It really offers a lot for everyone, especially for an open-minded crowd. In this case, the poppiness wouldn't really bother you anyway. The Blood Brothers, I believe, still have a lot of uncovered ground to tread, and this album sort of marks as a start of that exploration.
I would go as far as giving Crimes
a personal grade of 4.5
for its surprisingly alternative approach or a 3
being the lowest for destroying their past legacy. As an average though, it still gets a solid