Seattle rockers debut with blistering EP

The Blood Brothers were perhaps always doomed to burn out, the screaming Seattle banshees bursting out of their local scene while in their teenage years, ultimately encountering too much too young and fracturing a decade after their inception as members sought to pursue different stylistic avenues.

Two of five, Johnny Whitney and Cody Votolato, re-emerged first, their Jaguar Love project finding a home at Matador and producing the recommended album ‘Take Me To The Sea’. High-gloss of pop shimmer, the album saw vocalist Whitney continue his high-pitched histrionics. Meanwhile, co-vocalist in The Blood Brothers Jordan Blilie was working on something entirely different, alongside fellow former BBs Morgan Henderson and Mark Gadajhar, as well as ex-Shoplifting man Devin Welch (himself a one-time Blood Brother).

Past Lives is the name of the foursome’s new band, and ‘Strange Symmetry’ is their debut release; unlike Jaguar Love’s many-layered arrangements, these five songs pack a much-rawer punch, having more in common with Fugazi and Hüsker Dü than the members’ previous band of note. Opener ‘Beyond Gone’ makes this clear enough, Blilie now more Ian MacKaye than not. Guitars tear through a steady beat, dismantling the structure and rocking what was a fairly gentle ride into wilder territories.

Blilie’s back to Blood Brothers form vocally on the following title track, or certainly closer to it, but musically the band are touching upon styles refined by the likes of Hot Snakes and Ten Grand – tight and twitchy punk rock that’s full of melodic knowhow without ever forgetting to turn everything up beyond eleven. Lyrically the song’s a head-turner, with talk of splitting open skulls with nonsensical jargon and basically pulling the wool over another’s eyes. There’s bitter resignation in Blilie’s bile-spitting delivery when he utters, “I’ve heard it before, so I might as well hear it again”.

‘Skull Lender’ ups the pace – the song’s a gang vocal-aided rocker akin to the best moments of Gallows, all bluster and fury without loss of focus. “I want to start all over again,” roars our vocalist, and it seems with Past Lives he’s doing just that. Two further tracks, ‘Reverse The Curse’ and ‘Chrome Life’, see the EP home with a distinct flourish of unfussy accomplishment, all members evidently operating at the highest level to produce such streamlined excess.

“You stare up at that sun all day, but you never see the light…” Words for fans of The Blood Brothers to bear in mind, for while they may pine for their defunct heroes, their affections may lead them to overlook what’s clearly a band with frightening potential. Look for the light, and dance into it – Past Lives will hold your hand and not let you fall.

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