Sound — 9
Here's a band who has been working it for over 10 years, playing a brand of Hardcore that grates most people's nerves and must've been worse back when they started. But here's a band that after 10 years and 5 albums seem like they're just getting fired up. As with any of their albums, The Blood Brother's cover the majority of these tracks with early Sonic Youth guitar-feedback gymnastics ("Vital Beach" in particular), and when they bring the noise, they reach levels of androgynous intensity that even surpasses Burn Paino Island (a Hardcore classic), such as the so-sexy-it-should-be-R&B opener "Set Fire To The Face On Fire." But little flourishes make this album shine, as well as some drastic leaps forward. The Blues swagger on "We Ride Skeletal Lightning" recalls early Iggy And The Stooges. "1, 2, 3, 4 Guitars" sounds enough like Tom Waits to be a cover, with the twin vocals of Johnny Whitney and Jordan Blilie creeping up on you, sexy enough to strip a girl of her clothes. The dance anthem "Spitshine Your Black Clouds" beats Franz Ferdinand at their own game, with an irresistable synth line that leads way to an epic gang-chorus. But perhaps best of all is "Camoflauge Camoflauge" which breaks down halfway into Elton John piano chords before breaking into the greatest Brit Rock song that The Smiths never wrote. Add it up and you have their most polished and well produced album of their careers (thanks in part no doubt to co-producer Guy Piccioto of Fugazi).
Lyrics — 8
As with every album, The Blood Brothers lyrics cover familiar territory: sleazy business types, whores, fake people, spoiled rich people, adultery, death, violent death, even more violent death, charred bodies, and anything else that disgusts the boys. And only The Blood Brothers can make lines like "The only thing that makes our blood feel like blood is stealing cars and watching lightning bolts f--k" or "All your bitter enemies died of liver failure in Kent, Washington trailers" flow from their lips like sweet poetry. But perhaps the best is "Laser Life" in which Blilie proclaims, "Every single piano I've ever met in life never sounded as good as melted Casio keys," which possibly shines light on their creedo that the world is a horrible place, but it doesn't mean you should lose your sense of humor.
Overall Impression — 9
Young Machetes is a brilliant leap forward for the guys in trying new things: dance rock, blues, old-school punk. Johnny and Jordan even get their own song (Johnny on the so-so "Nausea Shrds Yr Head" and Jordan on the excellent "Johnny Ripper"). With 15 songs at almost over an hour, the disc is long, but well managed. With their earlier albums, The Blood Brothers demonstarted order through chaos: Hooks and catchy choruses buried deep amidst spazzy guitars and awkward time changes. But now it appears that the guys are ready to leave their Hardcore past behind in search of anything and everything that sounds good to them. And that sounds good to me.