After the collapse of my favorite band, The Blood Brothers, vocalist Jordan Blilie formed the band Past Lives, along with former Bloods bassist Morgan Henderson and drummer Mark Gajadhar.
As I wrote earlier this year, Blilie’s voice as an underrated – and, in my opinion, under-utilized – asset to the group’s shearing insanity. As the foil to tag team vocal partner Johnny Whitney’s shrieks and howls, Blilie’s soothing and bassy rumbles were like aloe for the ears. On Past Lives only full-length record, Tapestry of Webs, it’s evident that the direction of The Blood Brothers’ Young Machetes was one that split the band in two. The more refined and reflective direction on the tail end of that album is expanded on Tapestry, which makes for a tough listen at times, largely because of how influential and important The Blood Brothers were.
It makes me wonder what the band could have done with just one more album, but that’s a needless discussion, because it will unfortunately never happen.
Tapestry is made up of brilliant soundscapes, intriguing directional shifts within songs, and the same type of creative lyric writing that Blilie, a former high school English teacher, was known for in his time with The Blood Brothers.
It’s worth noting here that, much in the way of Young Machetes, Tapestry takes on two wholly different personalities between its sides. The first half of the record is more guitar-led rock music with fuzzy swells and ample feedback, while its B-side takes on the same reflective tone as the last Blood Brothers record. The instrumental “At Rest” at track 10 sounds like the beginnings of a Young Machetes cut that ended up not making the record.
Highlights on the first side include the one-two of opener “Paralyzer” into “Falling Spikes,” which see the band getting out their aggression early and often. While they maintain a certain abrasiveness throughout “Don’t Let the Ashes Fill Your Eyes” and “Hex Takes Hold,” it’s almost absent through the rest of the record.
Starting with “Deep in the Valley,” which features Jordan’s sister Hannah (drummer of The Gossip), the tone of Tapestry shifts into a more experimental venture, employing exotic instrumentation like… Idk, a tenor sax. Melodica, I guess? Sure.
I love this record if only for the fact that it feels like the offspring product of The Blood Brothers. Also worth checking out: the group’s debut EP, Strange Symmetry. Good stuff.
From Tapestry of Webs, this is “Paralyzer” –
Standout tracks: “Paralyzer,” “Don’t Let the Ashes Fill Your Eyes,” and “Hex Takes Hold”
Weakest track: “Aerosol Banquet”
RIYL: The Blood Brothers’ softer stuff at the end of Young Machetes.