I don't know if the Butchies have seen the rock-crit glorification flick Almost Famous, but it's pretty obvious that they don't share director Cameron Crowe's misty-eyed nostalgia for the rock-star excesses of the early '70s.
With the song, "Anything Anthology," the opening track of their new record, 3, the lesbian-punk trio makes it clear that they have no desire to turn back the clock to an era when women were objectified with a nudge and a wink, and relegated to groupiedom because there was little hope of ever getting onstage themselves. The song offers a reminder that the good old days were not necessarily that good: "The stage is for you/And the chance swarms you/Who wants it like Traffic, like Zeppelin . . . /Who wants it like it was before 1974?"
Righteous descendants of the early '90s riot-grrrl movement, the Butchies -- like their friends Sleater-Kinney -- excel at taking the issues of sexual politics and DIY self-determination, and personalizing them, so they don't come off as cold, abstract ideas, but intensely emotional notes from the underground.
As serious as their queer-rights ethos is, The Butchies have a sense of humor (consider not only their name, but the name of their label, Mr. Lady, which is owned by guitarist Kaia Wilson, and is also the home to Le Tigre and Sarah Dougher) about the weirdness they inevitably encounter from the straight world.
While their commitment makes them admirable human beings, what makes them a great band is their complete command of the three-minute punk-song form. "Forget Your Calculus" and "Ihate.com" are rousing rockers that more than live up to their call-to-arms lyrics. And Wilson's pretty, arpeggiated guitar figures on songs like "Junior High Lament" and "Not Like Mine" show that the band is capable of musical subtlety, and can speak loudly, even at lower volumes. One listen to 3 could convince even the most hardened classic rockers to lay down their weary tune and dig the new breed.
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