Contagious and fierce, diversely imaginative and aggressively bold, A Raw Youth is punk rock at its best. In sound it might not always seem so but in attitude and uncompromising nature it is a rebel, a confrontation to match its theme, which is best described by the words of Teri Gender Bender, “The focus of the album is the recurring conflict between minorities (the raw youths) and society: The oppressor and the oppressed,” the vocalist adding “Each song is a different story of a youth from a different time era. Some of them want to die because their faith in humanity has ended, some want to fight the authority, think outside themselves.”
The new album from Mexico based Le Butcherettes also roars with a celebratory air and rousing enterprise, a quality ensuring each track not only hits the spot musically and lyrically but leaves a lingering web of temptation for body and emotions. That will not really be a major surprise to fans of the band, their previous albums Sin Sin Sin of 2011 and last year’s Cry Is For The Flies especially, bulging riots of gripping sound and middle finger combat, but fair to say the trio of Gender Bender, drummer Chris Common (These Arms Are Snakes) and bassist Jamie Aaron Aux have pushed the creative intensity and adventure on again with A Raw Youth. The band’s third, and as its predecessors, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez produced, the album is their finest incitement yet, a rebel rousing slice of primal, thought provoking rock ‘n’ roll.
It all begins with Shave The Pride, a growling punk bred encounter quickly availing ears of grouchy riffs and the ever appealing tones of Gender Bender. Common’s beats frame the union with zest whilst Aux’s bass just snarls its way into the passions. The song itself never meanders from a cantankerous tone and infectious stride through ears, leaving greater adventure to those to come but easily makes for a stirring and anthemic start which has ears and appetite wide awake and ready for tracks like My Mallely which follows. Discord kissed melodies from keys opens up the swift attention grabber, bass and guitars again adding their irritable bait before the compelling and ever distinct tones of Gender Bender enrich ears. The infectious swagger of the song, driven by the excellent addictive nature of Common’s rhythms, has a 4 Non Blondes feel to it backed by warm keys which just slip over the senses with emotive temptation.
From one major highlight to another pair in Reason to Die Young and La Uva. The first seduces and bellows like a blend of PJ Harvey and a restrained Lene Lovich, voice and sound effortlessly inciting body and emotions with its tempestuous yet wholly virulent, slightly No Doubt like, blaze. Within it that an off kilter enticing adds a great unpredictability which is fully explored more in its successor. The fourth track on the album is a maze of textures and inventive sound entwining with and bouncing off the superb vocal union between the siren-esque harmonics of Gender Bender and the dark, lordly tones of guest Iggy Pop. Like De Staat meets Bauhaus with the devilment of a 6:33 infused, the track is a gloriously sinister and gripping fascination; a union of dark and light, warped power and innocence.
The outstanding Sold Less Than Gold keeps the lusty emotions inflamed again with its sixties pop meets indie revelry. A song looking on women who are sold into marriages or sex slavery, it is an invigorating flame of catchy rhythms, warm vocals, and bracing horns within a bouncy canter and energy in which potently reflects the resilience in the spirits of those enslaved.
Tantalising tones over a fuzzy landscape provides the next recruitment of feet and imagination in the shape of Stab My Back, its punchy touch and defiant nature ebbing and flowing with greater voracity across its four minutes before the aggression of They Fuck You Over ensures things get even scuzzier and antagonistically fiercer. A storm of punk and garage rock, it brawls with the listener yet has them on the dance-floor too. It with raw zeal uncages a contagion of addiction which in its own distinct way is matched by Witchless C Spot. Atmospherically immersive and haunting, the track wraps the senses like a dry mist initially, the voice of Gender Bender hypnotic in presence and word, before stalking textures and suggestiveness boil over in a fiery but controlled crescendo. It is a tempting repeating again, with the calm after holding more spicy additives second time around.
The Hitch Hiker is a riveting duet between the two protagonists within the narrative of the excellent encounter, Gender Bender taking both sides against saucy keys with an Oingo Boingo essence to them, and the ever welcome trespass of bass and swinging beats. Again the band has bodies out of their seats with ease whilst inciting thought, the lyrical writing and prowess of the vocalist as cutting and potent as the sounds relishing their input. It is a quality of course shown again in the transfixing Lonely & Drunk, a song far more hard hitting than on first appearances and increasingly magnetic with its golden melodies and predatory rhythms.
A favourite moment of the album comes with Oil The Shoe If The Critter Knew Any Better, a funk punk stroll of garage rock tenacity and psych rock hues which is as masterful prowling the imagination as it is venting its full energy and rapacious intent. The track just hits the spot leaving closing song My Half a tough job to match. Fair to say it does not quite find that success yet with the featured John Frusciante bringing his majestic fingers on steely strings to the bluesy/psyche mix, the album is provided with a thoroughly enjoyable and impressive end.
Le Butcherettes continue to burn the imagination and the issues of the world with their ravenous maelstrom of rock ‘n’ roll and A Raw Youth is their latest plateau of craft and imagination. There is always a smile when something new from the band arrives and their new album shows exactly why; one highly recommended proposal for you all.
A Raw Youth is available via Ipecac Recordings from September 18th via through all digital platforms.
Pete RingMaster 18/09/2015
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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