I keep reading that the new The Butcherettes album, ‘Raw Youth’, has a true rocking sound, that it’s almost classic rock except for a few songs, meaning that the Mexican garage punk band has departed from its previous punk and unique sound. However, Teri Gender Bender and Chris Common’s set at Amoeba on Thursday night, was anything but classic and quite different from everything you can hear anywhere. All stripped down to a raw acoustic sound, with Teri on ukulele (and guitar for one song) and Chris on drums, the songs took another dimension, sometimes weird and crazy but always fascinating and empowering.
I saw the Butcherettes opening for Iggy Pop during his 2011 tour, and Teresa Suárez (her real name) had stopped everyone’s breath with her bloody apron and her stage antics… no wonder this woman is admired by the coolest punk rockers on the planet – and Iggy Pop and John Frusciante are both on her new album. No bloody clothes this time, but Teresa and Chris were wearing blood-red outfits as if they were the incarnation of the devil, and they played their songs with a rebellious ferocity… Actually this new album is all about rebels… ‘’A Raw Youth’ is a tribute to all those great writers and great thinkers that were always fighting their way through or out of something. Despite being oppressed, they kept trying to be their grain of sand’, said I Suárez in an interview. ‘I think one of today’s rebels is Ruben Espinoza and Nadia Vera who would not shut up despite Javier Duarte trying to impose fear on these journalists. It’s ridiculous! It’s 2015. People go to exile in Mexico City thinking there’s going to be some kind of safety but it’s bullshit. So, basically, the album is about people facing death threats.’
Which right away puts things in perspective, it’s an ambitious work and last night, the songs were getting very alive despite the very few instruments involved. Suarez’s voice was the powerhouse fueling the show, bold, versatile and strong going to operatic howl or creepy groan in a very surrealistic and entertaining way. Death threats, rebels and authority fighters, this is what Suarez always seemed to embody, she looked at the audience with a fierce stare, head up as if she was about to fight with someone. She is a remarkable vocalist, and without devaluating her own originality, she could fit right between Nina Hagen, Corin Tucker and PJ Harvey, expressing so much in a single minute, getting crazy, like possessed by the same demon she is often singing about, shaking everyone out of their torpor:
‘We can all be free if we want to,’ she also said in the interview. ‘You take those transmissions and become A Raw Youth or part of that oppressive society. Youth doesn’t mean young. It’s the essence of being resilient against so many of life’s struggles. In every decade or era there’s always a rebel who gives inspiration for the poets to write about. That person holds the light. These songs tell those tales.’
All set long, even though she was sitting on a stool, the Guadalajara-born girl was restless, and she owned the place at the first second, inspiring a creepy danger with more expression than a thousand people trapped in the same person, getting an infinity of shades from the same deep yell, grimacing while singing lyrics like ‘You broke my heart in so many ways/ You were so cold to me, so very cold’ (during ‘Devil Lived’)
Even though the duo started with old songs before singing the new ones, all the tunes had the same fascinating mix of anger and riot vibe, as Suarez was going from a giant yell to a cappella whisper the next minute, but never giving up on her bold and proud stare. It was an aggressive and violent set with mean-spirited songs about oppression, transformed in a weird beauty thanks to Suarez’s bluesy dramatic howl at the center stage . The lyrics were often abstract or totally sexual but often dark and funny. She shook her whole body, she moaned and groaned, but she smiled a lot too, then jumped from the stage during the last song, ‘Shame You’re All I’ve Got’ while continuing her song with her ukulele, even far away from the mic, ‘Burn inside, just fall away/Shame, shame you’re all I’ve got’, running away, leaving the store, jumping in a random bus in front of Amoeba and never stopping her chant.
‘For me, ‘A Raw Youth’ is like a psychedelic movie with abstract words and dialogue that changes between characters,’ explained again Suarez in an interview. ‘You kind of don’t know what the hell is going on but, at the end of the day, you’re like, ‘Okay, I’m going to watch that again and try to understand it more.’’ Sure, I totally get this impression of not knowing what was going on and I am totally watching that again tomorrow.
‘A Raw Youth’ was released on September 18th via Ipecac Recordings.
Demon Stuck in Your Eye
Burn the Scab
They Fuck you Over
Shave the Pride
I’m Getting Sick of You
Your Weakness Give me Life
Stab my Back
Shame You’re All I’ve Got
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