Girls to the Front 

The Past, the Present, the New Bloods

The greatest aspect of the raised-fist inspirational punk rock performed by New Bloods is that the trio is actually more polite than they are angry. Their floor-stomping anthems are a textured mesh of populist folk tunes run through the filter of years of DIY punk, most often hosted in that most romanticized of venues: the fabled all-ages basement show. Both welcoming and inviting in their rousing message, New Bloods deconstruct the wedge between performer and listener—they are truly one and the same—with a simple mantra: You can do this. In fact, if they had their way, anyone would do this.

The band (violinist Osa Atole, drummer Adee Roberson, bassist Cassie Gammill) is often unfairly associated with their race (mixed) and sexuality (lesbian) instead of their stripped-down music, which is worthy of great praise. New Bloods channel the urgency of punk legends the Ex, the charm of the Raincoats, a hefty dose of the tragically departed Spooky Dance Band, plus a pedigree of riot grrrl albums that helped lay the very foundation on which New Bloods stand so tall.

Atole discusses the importance of this influence in particular: "Riot grrrl was definitely a big deal for me. That was the music that made me feel like I could play and participate. For me, it totally changed what music was about." She continues, "I started off listening to alternative rock, and they are all so much about technique and being technically proficient, but riot grrrl was just the opposite. It was about delivery and trusting your own abilities and your creativity, regardless of your skill level. It wasn't the fact that they were just women, it was their musical approach as women."

This trio of bass/violin/drums lacks guitar, but the instrument is hardly missed. New Bloods' bare songs sound best as uncluttered anthems that showcase the interchangeable vocals of a band that prefers wonderful harmonies to the discordance usually associated with punk music. Layers of vocals prop up the mystical "Oh, Deadly Nightshade!" with its grinding violin chords and thumping drums, and they do the same with the following track, a spoken/sung pro-tolerance ballad called "Tree."

Of course, it's only a matter of time before The Secret Life, their debut full-length, delivers the same inspirational blow as those records that once inspired Atole to pick up an instrument and do it for herself. Since, if anything, this band feels like a "how-to" guide on the ethics, intelligence, and passion that lies at the root of punk music and culture. Given the band's ability to inspire even the most casual listener to believe in the great power their music yields, New Bloods are primed to impact future generations, much the same way they were inspired in their formative years. Although this is hardly the band's intention: According to Atole, "We aren't thinking about how we will be looked back on. Instead, we as a band are thinking about forming the community that we want in punk, and in music in general."

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