Every now and again I take a look through my overflowing music library and stumble across a band that I haven’t heard for a while. It’s strange that you could love something so much and then at some point you get used to that sound too much and go off and look for other noises to make you happy. Well whilst rummaging through my library the other day I found my copy of Portland band, The New Bloods album. I remember absolutely loving them, their politics, their sound. Like many New Bloods fans I was heartbroken when they decided to call it a day after only releasing one album, The Secret Life (2008).
Made up of Osa Atoe (violin), Adee Robertson (drums) and Cassia Gammill (bass), The New Bloods began life in the evergreen, thriving punk subculture in Portland, Oregon. Adee and Osa met through the underground zine trading scene. Both women wrote about black subculture in their zines Shotgun Seamtress (Osa’s) and Finger on the Trigger (Adee’s).
As three queer women, two of whom were black, The New Bloods immediately stood out in the still white, male dominated music scene, but that wasn’t the only way they stood out. For one their main melodic instrument was a violin, an instrument not synonymous with punk, DIY culture. Secondly the group’s way of singing involved meshing lush harmonies alongside, harsh cries and yelps.
Much like their lo-fi predecessors such as The Raincoats and Kleenex, New Bloods write poetry-esque lyrics. I watched a debate that asked when do lyrics become poetry. To me they are poetry it’s just that they aren’t poetry to everyone. Every song has a specific listener that it needs to find and open up their mind.
Songs such as ‘Eyes’, ‘The Secret Life’ and ‘Doubles’ are all art punk classics. Years from now some young, intellectual musical sorts will find a copy of The New Bloods album and cite them as a major influence on their, now, nostalgic music. The New Bloods were a great band that are now sadly now more but it’s obvious they are going to still live on in other ways. There’s no way you can keep that kind of music down.