Album Review: Le Butcherettes – bi/MENTAL

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Artist: Le Butcherettes

Album: bi/MENTAL

Genre: Alternative Rock/Post-Punk/Garage Rock/Art Rock

Rating: 8/10

Some musicians are just completely captivating, whether it be on record, or during a confrontational live show, some musicians just demand your attention. Teresa Suárez Cosío A.K.A. Terri Gender Bender is without a doubt one of those enthralling musicians. The Denver, Colorado born artist started playing guitar and writing songs at a very young age when her and her family moved to Mexico. She has embarked on countless music endeavors since she was fully established in the music business, everything from her “Bosnian Rainbows” project with frequent collaborator Omar Rodríguez-López, to her star-studded supergroup “Crystal Fairy,” you can bet she puts her blood, sweat, and tears into everything she does, but her main project, the one that has her full heart is “Le Butcherettes.” Starting out as a “Garage Rock” duo that drew a lot of influence from feminism, “Le Butcherettes” have had a rotating lineup throughout the years, which has lead the project to vastly shapeshift on each album. Their 2011 debut Sin Sin Sin was a minimalist howl that spoke on gender politics, their following album Cry Is For The Flies was a lot darker and sinister in nature without losing it’s thought provoking and immensely poetic lyricism, and the band’s third album A Raw Youth contained synth-heavy Glam with a grandiose presentation. One thing has remained among these style changes though, and that’s sole member Terri Gender Bender’s personality and distinct style. Her artistic style of deep cutting and sometimes zany vocals, raw and grungy guitar riffs, and her signature organ that sounds like a circus from Hell are all what makes her style so incredibly unique and intriguing, and on her new album with a new live band bi/MENTAL features all of these things and then some. Everything that has made the band so musically compelling is perfectly incorporated into the mix, but the melodic and lush delivery with an underlying sense of melancholy but strong self-aware ethos are all balanced out perfectly on this album, making this the band’s best work to date. bi/MENTAL is largely ambitious with artistic instrumentation filled with Proggy synths, “Post-Punk” ridden guitars, groovy basslines, and some of the best sounding drum work there has ever been on a “Le Butcherettes” record, but of course, the main thing that sticks out and immediately grabs the listeners attention is Terri Gender Bender’s impactful vocals and meaningful lyrics. There are recurring themes of mental illness and bipolar disorder on these songs, and how these things can be hereditary and run through a family’s bloodline. These subjects are poetically delivered and the myriad of changing emotions conveyed on these songs reflect the theme of bipolar disorder. One song can be about self-empowerment and conjuring up the courage to rid yourself of a toxic relationship like the track “strong/ENOUGH,” but then the emotion can completely change like on the track “in/THE END” where Terri sings “In the end we’re faithless. We’re just in search for guidance” speaking on the frantic and confused human condition. The ever-changing sentiments on these songs beautifully represent the mindset of most humans who can’t help but get lost in introspective thought, and Terri fearlessly delivers these themes, forcing you to hang on to every word that is said. Some of these tracks are largely collaborative. Jello Biafra of “Dead Kennedys” provides a spoken word outro on the opening track “spider/WAVES,” artist and activist Alice Bag provides vocals on the sinister sounding “mother/HOLDS,” and all of these songs are cleanly produced by Jerry Harrison of “Talking Heads” and “The Modern Lovers,” but as effective as these features are, none of them overshadow Terri Gender Bender. They probably couldn’t if they tried, because her artistry is completely captivating and it’s very evident that she is an important figure in modern “Rock.” There’s no doubt that she’ll continue to push the boundaries and provoke thought, and that is the kind of ambition we need in the music world today.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 02/04/19

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