It seems highly unlikely for Seattle’s Blood Brothers to make a heart-breaking record. That statement could mean several things, but in this case it’s one of disappointment. With its 2002 debut, This Adultery Is Ripe, the Northwest quintet pummeled the hardcore scene with a sound that was abrasive and addictive. The band members’ art was that of visceral release in a way that few bands could come close to inducing. For many, Blood Brothers’ shows were an experience. You didn’t go, you flocked. You didn’t recite lyrics, you re-created them.
Fast-forward to 2006, and it’s now impossible to imagine that Blood Brothers could have been that force that shook the castle walls of the misguided youth that related to their music. It sounds dramatic, but that’s exactly how it was. Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck — the title track taken from the 2004 full-length Crimes — is a seven-song collection of live and alternate versions, spaced by a few poor excuses for B-sides (there’s also a video for the title track). The apex of the release, designed to appease fans while the band works with Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto on its next full-length, is the alternate take of “Crimes,” which is a melodic train-fuck (that’s train wreck plus mind-fuck) atop a shoddy rhythm. It sounds like a band trying to sound like the Blood Brothers but just not getting it.
Crimes marked a drastic change in the band’s musical style. What once was abrasive, cacophonous, and irreverent toward the concept of melody became tamer time signatures and frequent attempts at verse-chorus-verse composition. Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck suggests that, at least for now, the Blood Brothers are standing behind this new creative direction. “Peacock Skeleton With Crooked Feathers” features Sean Reveron of A Gun Called Tension, and it only deepens the sickening lack of effort in Jordan Billie’s voice by having the dirty-growl Reveron rapper talent reaffirm that “things are never what they seem.”
It’s one thing to be in a band, put out three stellar records, and then take everything in a new direction. It seemed that a bold move was coming with the success of 2003’s Burn Piano Island, Burn, but Crimes turned out to be nothing more than the pun that the title totally sets itself up for. Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck is a genre-mashing lateral move; it seems like the band members got together and decided to take their last crap record and tweak it as much as they could. Get it out of their system, and go back to building the stronger points: Johnny Whitney’s fearless, high-pitched scream, Morgan Henderson’s funeral-at-the-carnival keyboard concoctions, and Cody Votolato’s Dark Side of the Eno guitar.
This extended single is going to continue to pick away at the empire of urgency, madness, and desperation the Blood Brothers created with their powerful albums and vengeful solidarity amongst them and their live audience. Until the release of their forthcoming record — in which they can continue to experiment like an awkward teenager confronted with drugs and alcohol for the first time, or really grow up and follow in the vein of their opuses like “Cecelia and the Silhouette Saloon” or “Siamese Gun” — the Blood Brothers are letting a lacking effort dominate a reputation that they can still salvage.
“Cecillia and the Silhouette Saloon” MP3, from Burn Piano Island, Burn
“Peacock Skeleton With Crooked Feathers” MP3, from Crimes