Written by Mike Yoder, posted by blog admin
Like Blood for Music from Minneapolis’ Black Bluebirds is a ten song outing that sounds, on an initial couple of listens, like one of the best guitar driven and songwriting based releases in recent memory. That’s a bold assertion, but there’s immense coherence to this collection and obvious imagination lighting up each of the album’s songs. Their willingness to adopt and obvious comfort with a hard rock, even metal, sound never diminishes their capacity for imprinting significant melodic strengths on their audiences. The lead guitar playing of Simon Husbands is a key cog in what makes the machinery of this album hum, but Daniel Fiskum’s singing and the frequent accompaniment on backing vocals from Jessica Rasche are critical pieces in completing that puzzle as well. Like Blood for Music will definitely make an impression on both hardcore and casual music fans.
“Love Kills Slowly” begins the release with plenty of drama, authority, and musicality. It’s difficult to not find yourself centering your attentions on Fiskum’s voice, as rough-hewn as it is, and it definitely carries the necessary grit and gravitas to handle this material. Rasche provides a colorful counterweight to his voice here and elsewhere; she has a more traditionally beautiful singing voice while still possessing the ability to invest the same emotional weight in it we hear from Fiskum in a much different way. The guitar presence in “Strange Attractor” is much more diffuse than we hear in the album opening and the tempo is a little slower, more deliberate. Fiskum’s singing stands much more on its own here than in other songs and proves, if there’s any doubt, he can single-handedly bear these tunes on his back. The flash of Fiskum’s keyboards in the aforementioned song is much more prominent on the album’s third song “Life in White” and this intensely personal chronicle from Fiskum makes its subject clear for attentive listeners. The acoustic guitar present in the song marks a welcome change of pace from the first two numbers.
“Battlehammer” has a straight ahead, guitar driven uptempo pace and rarely deviates from its path. There’s scattered use of backing vocals in this song, closer to the end, and a steady yet tasteful presence of lead guitar flourishes bringing extra color to the performance. The album’s mid way point is particularly strong with the track “House of No More Dreams” and they clearly reveal themselves to be masters of orchestrating some punchy sturm and drang for their songs without ever becoming too heavy handed. The song is one of the album’s clear high points and its position in the track listing is likely no accident. “Hole in the Day” has a lightly psychedeliczed vibe and the Beatles influences in the song are apparent without ever being laid on too thick. The piano lacing through the song gives it a sharper melodic edge than it might have otherwise possessed and helps make the song all that more memorable. Like Blood for Music’s second to last number “My Eyes Were Closed” is a fine piece of songwriting, particularly lyrically, and it syncs up well with the stately, near epic swing of the arrangement. Black Bluebirds are clearly working hard to set themselves apart from the pack without a thoughtful approach to their musical art and it pays off enormous dividends with the release Like Blood for Music.