Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Monday, March 19, 2018

Black Bluebirds - Like Blood for Music (2018)

Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin

Black Bluebirds is a Minneapolis based power trio featuring the musical and songwriting talents of Daniel Fiskum working alongside band mates Simon Husbands on guitar/vocals and Chad Helmonds on drums and vocals. Additional contributions from guests Jessica Rasche and Patrik Tanner are important to the success of the release as well. Their ten song debut Like Blood for Music is an impressive and fully conceived effort with a powerful, plain-spoken lyrical sensibility complementing its musical artfulness. The band clearly owes a debt to bands and artists as diverse as David Bowie, melodic metal, and David Byrne, but those influences never come off as imitation – instead, Fiskum and his band mates are quite adept at transmuting those influences through their own skills and experiences into a collection that’s not particularly cheerful, but intelligent and often ultimately triumphant. Like Blood for Music is another fine offering from a Minneapolis outfit, long a hub for musical creativity and Black Bluebirds are poised to join the upper echelon of musical exports from this Midwestern mecca.

Rasche’s voice provides an impassioned and recurring counterpoint to Fiskum’s own on the opener “Love Kills Slowly”. This is a real kick in the door way of beginning the album as Black Bluebirds latch onto an impressive and striding hard rock track for the collection’s initial salvo. It finds its mark. Simon Husbands, as well, unreels some particularly tasty lead guitar bringing a further flourish to the performance. There’s a bit more control exerted over the album’s second song “Strange Attractor” and Rasche returns to parry dramatically with Fiskum’s deep, gravitas-laden vocal. Fiskum’s keyboards impose themselves more on this song than we heard with the opener, but their inclusion does nothing to dilute the aural muscle they are clearly intent on flexing. Black Bluebirds embraces a more progressive, softer edge with the song “Life in White”, a study of addiction’s power, and there’s a hint of grandeur surrounding the song’s atmospherics that makes it especially potent for listeners. Fiskum has a mildly stentorian vocal style, but it’s never so melodramatic or self-indulgent that it mars the performance. The heavy presence of acoustic guitar in the song marks it as a much different proposition than any of the earlier numbers.

The potentially portentously titled “House of No More Dreams” never taxes listener’s patience. It, naturally, opts for a near apocalyptic guitar workout with thunderous drumming laying down a heavy groove underpinning the song. Smatterings of keyboards emerge from the mix. Rasche’s backing vocals return on the song “Soul of Wood” with impressive results and the uptempo thrust of the song is ideal for Husbands to spark with some memorable guitar pyrotechnics. Like Fiskum and Helmonds on drums, Husbands’ never pushes his playing into heavy handed territory and his embellishments on this song make it more torrid, more memorable. The steady groove established in the opening of the album’s finale “Legendary” gives Fiskum’s keyboards a solid foundation and Husbands adorns the track with some almost painterly initial touches from his six string. The song, despite only running four and a half minutes, clearly aspires to be an emphatic final statement for the collection and succeeds. Black Bluebirds’ Like Blood for Music is a mature, yet energetic and imaginative, work that swiftly solidifies the band’s position as one of the best acts to emerge from the Minneapolis scene in some time.  

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