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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Rock band Bloodkin revives with sanguine new album

By Sam Robertson

Drive By Truckers frontman Patterson Hood describes the new Bloodkin album, “Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again,” by writing: “It’s truly one of the best damned Rock and Roll albums that I have heard in many a year.” Although Bloodkin have been performing live for over 20 years and released seven studio albums, they are virtually unknown far from their home in Athens, Ga. The band’s inaccessible name, poor marketing, and live performances marred by drug overdoses have caused them to have little popular success. Despite that, Bloodkin has been impressing veterans of the Athens music scene for years and has influenced famous bands such as Widespread Panic and the Drive By Truckers.

Bloodkin is not a band as much as a vehicle for childhood friends Daniel Hutchens and Eric Carter to produce music. The rest of the band’s lineup has changed over the years, which has caused Bloodkin’s music to evolve from the acoustic country blues of their second album to the heavy southern rock featured on “Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again.” The best southern rock bands tend to be defined by rich, soaring guitar solos and gritty vocals. Bloodkin is no exception. Both Hutchens and Carter are very talented guitarists, and along with guitarist Eric Martinez (who joined Bloodkin for the album and their last tour) they create layered guitar harmonies and solos that can compete with southern rock’s finest. Even though there are several brilliant instrumental passages on the album, Bloodkin is really about the song, not flashy jams. Hutchens’ voice is a rich, southern drawl, and he sometimes sings the lyrics with a sneering edge, sounding like an “Exile On Main Street” era Mick Jagger. Hutchens is also one of the most overlooked songwriters of the past 20 years, and the lyrics on “Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again” tell the story of the band’s disturbing past, while offering a message of hope and redemption for the future. “Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again,” is a comeback album for Bloodkin. Hutchens and Carter both have a dark history of drug abuse, which spiraled out of control during the recording of their last album. It appeared that drug abuse would not only destroy Bloodkin’s music but also take Hutchens’ and Carter’s lives. However, they both survived and overcame their problems, which is where the title of the new album comes from. Ultimately, “Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again” is a rebirth for Bloodkin. Hutchens’ optimism, caused by sobriety, marriage, children and getting his will to live back is apparent throughout the album. However, the first track, “The Viper,” is a dark look back at their past.

“The Viper,” which contains lines such as “you’ve been an addict all your life,” “you smoke a pipe and snort a line,” and most disturbing of all: “So you put the shotgun to your mouth,” Hutchen does not shy away from describing the hell that he and Carter have been through in the past few years. The dark lyrics, dirty blues guitar, banjo, and wailing harmonica create a song that would not sound out of place on Neil Young’s grungy masterpiece, “Tonight’s The Night.” As the seven-minute song comes to a close, a guitar solo combined with harmonica and horns bring the song to a stunning climax. On the next song, “Easter Eggs,” the title of the album appears in the lyrics and sends a message of optimism. Musically, the song isn’t quite as strong as “The Viper,” but it’s very catchy with an uplifting chorus and sounds like it belonged on the radio in the 1970’s. The album is especially strong at the end, starting with “Little Margarita,” a song Hutchens wrote for his daughter, where Carter channels Keith Richards with a catchy guitar riff that sounds borrowed from “Brown Sugar.” “Wait Forever” and “Summer In Georgia” follow “Little Margarita” and close the album out in a powerful fashion. “Summer in Georgia” celebrates not only Hutchen’s home, but also the new will to live and hope that he has found. The album isn’t perfect – “Heavy With A Child,” focuses so heavily on the joy the birth of a child brings that it sounds cheesy instead of happy. “A Place To Crash” is nothing special until the guitar solo at the end, which rescues the song and is the musical highlight of the album.

Strictly based on the music, I would consider “Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again” one of the stronger and more enjoyable albums of 2009. But the emotional power of the album is where it’s true strength lies. The music is merely a backing for the story of two friends who have been through hell together and have not only survived but reemerged stronger than ever.

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    Charles MillerSep 9, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    very nice submit, i actually love this website, keep on it