Cry Is For The Flies
Teri Gender Bender (born Teresa Suarez) has been busy the last couple of years. Ever since Omar Rodriguez Lopez discovered Le Butcherettes, signed them, played some bass, produced their record, he’s been locked in a developing creative relationship with the stunning, manic, frightening and wonderful lead singer/frontperson. She toured with the Omar Rodriguez Lopez Band – which became Bosnian Rainbows and there’s already been another side-project featuring them both, Kimono Kult. And where Bosnian Rainbows was great and Kimono Kult was, well, kinda interesting if slight (here’s my review of the EP) it’s all taken Suarez away from her main band.
So here now we have the new Le Butcherettes album, the best release from the group, Suarez – or Teri Gender Bender, rather – has that great ferocious howl still; she hits at the guitar strings as you would expect from someone raised on the Riot Grrl sound and ethos; but she has the stoicism and craft of PJ Harvey, not just the little girl party-dress and smeared-make-up yelling of Babes In Toyland’s Kat Bjelland. Although there’s a hint, always, of that too. And that’s a crucial part of the mix.
Here on the opening brace of Burn The Scab and Demon Stuck In Your Eye the obvious touchstone is Karen O but the songs are better, they’re not art-punk wannabe bullshit, they’re not White Stripes-like offcuts, they’re as well-rounded as anything from PJ Harvey’s catalogue, from the Bosnian Rainbows work, from Nirvana even.
Actually, though it’s probably not right to ever suggest that Hole was ever a good band (they were) simply because Courtney Love is easy to dismiss as rotten to the core, The Gold Chair Ate The Fire Man sounds like vintage Hole; the good kind.
And on Your Weakness Give Me Life, around the sludge of fuzz-bass, drums, guitars and Gender Bender’s impassioned vocal we hear a swirl of frenzied free-jazz horns, the sort of trick you always hoped Sonic Youth would pull off to a groove. Well it’s here. And it sounds shit-hot.
Henry Rollins, everyone’s favourite-ish Rent-An-Arts-Festival-Favour-Guy fronts for the Steinman-esque monologue, Moment of Guilt; it acts as a half-time in the days of not flipping sides of albums.
Great as it is to hear Teri Gender Bender tear any song a new one it’s the moments on this album where her voice goes deep – shows such a huge range, sonically and emotionally – that offer the real rewards. The six-minute Crying Out To The Flies is one of her finest moments. But there’s no dead spots here. In fact she’s managed the trick of being more accessible without sounding anything close to a sell-out. Cry Is For The Flies is both easier going and easier to get into than anything Teri has put her name to previously. And it’s also better.