At a wise-beyond-her-years 26, Teri Gender Bender is already eight years deep into her flamboyant career, and during her journey, she’s created quite the legendary persona.
At this still tender age, the lead singer of Le Butcherettes has already made an indelible mark on the punk rock scene, and on A Raw Youth, we see her make a brash move that just might make her the mainstream star the rock universe is clamoring for.
The band’s critically acclaimed 2014 offering Cry Is For The Flies was included on the RARA’s Farm Album of the Year list. Our Broken Birdie jumped into his review with: “Cry Is For The Flies starts out sounding like an even more sinister boat ride through Willy Wonka’s tunnel of terror… It causes anxiety, aggression, and for the uninitiated, a certain amount of confusion. It is not for the weak of heart…” It was a perfect description for a powerfully intriguing album.
Gender Bender’s music, much like her life, is about metamorphosis. With each of her three Le Butcherettes full-length releases, we see her music branch in a fresh, if not twisted new direction. Her personal life has been a tangled path, filled with ample doses of anguish, yet still dotted with hope. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and saw plenty of the darker side of the Mexican city, before her family escaped to Denver.
She’s bundled these vast experiences with residences in Los Angeles and El Paso to develop one hell of a songwriting canvas, and on A Raw Youth, we take an insidious peek into those memories on songs like “The Hitch Hiker” and “Sold Less Than Gold” – two of the more powerful cuts on the album.
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“There’s a moment in all of our lives where we learn of the great injustices around us and decide what we’re going to do about it on a personal level, you could sum it up as, to conform or not to conform” – Teri Gender Bender
“Hitch Hiker,” a rollicking keyboard driven rocker is a late summer joy ride on a mad man’s carousel, a sweet afternoon voyage that ends in murder. She’s a woman of many voices and makes a habit of absorbing the identity of the protagonist’s in her tales. In “Sold Less Than Gold,” she takes us through the pain of a woman sold into slavery in a song disguised as a cheerful bouncy synth-horn driven tune. The song features dark and troubling lyrics perfectly mixed with a pop-driven musical bed.
Other highlights include the dark, distorted “Lonely and Drunk” the heavy, throbbing “Witchless C Spot” and “Stab My Back” a keyboard driven song that would sound oh so perfect reverberating off the walls in a late night rock club.
Collaborating with punk rock legends is nothing new for Gender Bender, having paired with Shirley Manson and Henry Rollins on Cry Is For The Flies. This time, we hear her work with Iggy Pop and RHCP alum John Frusciante and with mixed results. “La Uva” the Pop partnership is a slow plodding track, it’s interesting, but seems a waste of Pop’s talent. Frusciante’s cameo is on “My Half” and his unique guitar stylings are evident, but the song is the least compelling on the album.
At this point in her career, it’s time for Gender Bender to rely on her bandmates (Chris Common [drums], and Jamie Aaron Aux [bass]) for the music accompaniment, because as is on evident display on their ten other tracks, the band is dripping with talent and creativity, and they’re going to be making an indelible mark on the punk rock music scene.
Check out the album and let us know what you think.
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