Review: Le Butcherettes – bi/MENTAL
National Music Reviews
Le Butcherettes = Siouxsie Siouz + Patti Smith
Le Butcherettes is a band out of Guadalajara, Mexico, and are currently based in El Paso, Texas. The band consists of: Riko Rodriguez-Lopez (guitar), Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez (bass) and Alejandra Robles Luna (drums). Le Butcherettes are lead by their firebrand lead singer, Teri Gender Bender (Teresa Suarez Coscio). Gender Bender is the center of the hurricane, and she keeps everything around her swirling with chaotic precision. Her voice is a work of art. When she sings, she sounds like a revolution.
Le Butcherettes’ last three albums were produced by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (At The Drive-In, The Mars Volta) on his own record label. Now with a new home, Rise Records, Le Butcherettes have brought in legend and icon Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads) to draw out a new and creative sound. Harrison both tightens and stretches out the guitar runs, and emphasizes the thump/thump/thump rhythm that Robles-Luna delivers—providing the intense immediacy needed for each track. Harrison handles Gender Bender in the most effective way possible – he stays out of her way. Harrison allows Gender Bender to tap in and bleed out her soul like an open vein.
bi/MENTAL burns from the raw, open, confessional poetry wound of Gender Bender lighting this record up like a brush fire. “I only want you to know the pavement / With a distant move that ruins everything / One step on the ground, a crystal is born / If you ignore the siren, my hands will turn to ice.” Gender Bender sings on “struggle/STRUGGLE,” “Let’s steal from anything / Everything resembling law / We don’t really believe anything / Everything the sky tells us.” Gender Bender writes of prophesies, homecomings, escape, the ties that bind, retribution and transformation. This record is cinematic, and Gender Bender fits a lot of pain within its scope. bi/Mental is personal to Gender Bender as this record portrays how mental illness can run through a family like a river of blood. “I’m not the kind of girl you thought I was / People know of all your sins / Open time will make it fine / I’m walking over miles of pain / All that separates is the dream to be free / The way you mistreat me ceases to break my spirit in two.” Gender Bender sings on “strong/ENOUGH” about the sins and madness of family, “Always been loving you / Yet there is only so much I can take / Real words have been unsaid / I kept it in because I felt too ashamed / You love your hurting more than life / I’m done giving you all of myself.”
Le Butcherettes invites in Jello Biafra (“spider/WAVES”), the legendary Latin singer Mon Laferte (“la/SANDIA”) and the icon Alice Bag who joins Gender Bender on yet another punishing track (“mothers/HOLDS”) “So give me milk / Without, any panic attacks.” Everything works on this record. bi/MENTAL hits you where it hurts, and like great art, it also hits you where you heal. This record reminds me of such confessional-themed classics as Patti Smith’s Horses and Lou Reed’s New York. Artists who open themselves up to let everything out. Put the needle down, listen to this album, and let it get in your bloodstream. You will be glad you did. (Kilby Court: 02.15) –Russ Holsten