Sunday, March 2, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Behind the Scenes

New music: Blood Brothers

A weekly tour of the unexpected in the entertainment and arts scene.

The band: The blood-curdling Blood Brothers

Who they are:

Seattle's latest contender for Next Big Thing. Hailed by tastemakers for possessing supernova energy, the arty punk band will release its third album, "Burn Piano Island, Burn" (ARTISTdirect) this month.

Why you might want to duck when you play their new CD: The Blood Brothers sling shards of noise like maniacal lumberjacks hurling buzzsaw blades. The new album might well be subtitled "Songs to Seizure To." The brutal "Every Breath Is a Bomb" — an aching story of a rape survivor — whips from jerky noise-rock to piano music, to reggae, to spoken word, to waltz time. And since the Blood Brothers count in their ranks two full-time singers, Jordan Blilie and Johnny Whitney, every tune is, technically speaking, a duet. "After I first heard that song 'Lift Us Up Where We Belong,' I believe it was Joe Cocker and Linda Ronstadt," (Jennifer Warnes, actually) "it was a model that I thought would work for us," said Blilie. It's a joke, of course, though throat surgeons might notice similar disfigurements in both Blilie's and Cocker's pipes.

What's their history: The Brothers' first lineup got together in Kirkland in 1997. Today the group includes Blilie and Whitney, guitarist Cody Votolato, bassist Morgan Henderson and drummer Mark Gajadhar, all in their early 20s. The outfit has issued two albums, "This Adultery Is Ripe" (Second Nature Recordings) and "March on Electric Children" (Three One G), the singles collection "Rumors Laid Waste" (Luckyhorse Industries), and the concert DVD "Jungle Rules Live" (ARTISTdirect).

Why it matters: The ideal Blood Brothers show may well last just 25 minutes — any longer and the crowd is too drained to keep volleying energy with the band. On stage, Blilie and Whitney flop like fish with their tails snared in electric sockets. But while the Blood Brothers may scream like babies born into a

violent world, their lyrics aren't as angry as you might think. Some songs play like cinematic vignettes, others like labyrinths of psychedelic imagery. There's even a twisted double-time ode to James Brown.

The title cut on "Burn Piano Island, Burn" revisits a couple from "Marooned on Piano Island" on the band's first album. Two derelicts once content to be stranded in a relationship are now ready to kill each other: "I cut my will and testament along the scar tissue seam, I packaged my heart and Fed Exed it to the Octopus Queen," the singers screech.

"It just seemed like an interesting thing to do, to write a song that's a variation on something we had done previously," Whitney said. "And to do it in a way that sheds new light on what was going on before. I didn't really feel like it was exercised to its full potential before."

Upcoming events: Blood Brothers plays 7 p.m. Tuesday, at Graceland, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., Seattle, $10, 206-262-0482. "Burn Piano Island, Burn" CD release, March 18.

— Chris Nelson


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