Friday, July 8, 2016

The Muscle of Love

There’s nothing as unstoppable as a freight train full of fuck-yeah.” 
Much like Alice Cooper, Molly Hatchett, Bettie Serveert etc. Jenny Clinkscale wasn't an actual person. The band, described by its label as “equal parts glam, cock and shock rock” took its name from singer/guitarist Jen Sincero's first name and singer/guitarist Amy Clinkscale's last name. Formed in 1997, Jenny Clinkscale started blowing minds almost immediately... leading the Albuquerque Journal to praise them in this manner... "the group has a power that few bands are willing to wield these days." Jenny Clinkscale came together during a period in 'Burque's musical history that Journal music writer Kenn Rodgriguez once described as “atrophied” and mired in “musical doldrums”

Naturally, it was anything but. “Lack of middling bands makes it seem as if nothing new is coming up on the local scene” Kenn lamented, while naming off a list of “big bands” working the local scene: Giant Steps, January's little Joke, Flake, Scared of Chaka, Naomi and Hazeldine, Jenny Clinkscale, The Honeys, The Gluey Brothers (who were hanging around Santa Fe at the time) That's not a shabby roster and he left out more than a handful of excellent bands: The Withdrawals for instance. It all comes down to perception, it's hard to take in the big picture when you're gazing at your shoes, “You raise up your head and you ask, "Is this where it is?"

What the Jenny Clinkscale band brought to the local scene was entertainment value.... you put down your hard earned moolah and in return you witnessed a rock and roll testimonial unlike any seen before or since. Jen Sincero, the self anointed “rock goddess” had cut her teeth in NYC with Crotch (Sara Rotman and Mike Mellett) Crotch dropped one epic tongue in cheek video for their single, “Power Tool of Love” in 1994, then dropped from sight. The video includes a cameo by Adam Ant, Jen's mother and a hair bikini. Dear old mom gets catcalled by construction workers and Jen has no recourse but to take matters in hand. “and then something happened, I felt the biggest burning hunk of man muscle I ever felt in my life” 

  “You're here. I'm here. I love you. I'm gonna pee all over the floor about it.”

Naturally..... Jenny Clinkscale revolved around Jen Sincero and Amy Clinkscale, accompanied by a revolving cast of local musicians (at least 15 different musicians according to Jen & Amy) this included: Leonard Apodaca, Dead Leonard, owner of The Atomic Cantina and co-founder of Socyermom Records. Elijah Mink, a drummer from Seattle who responded to Jen's best selling book: “Don't Sleep With Your Drummer” by stating, “I don't know what I did to her” By the time Jenny Clinkscale hit the studio to record their one and only album “Mind if We Join You?” the line-up consisted of Marcos Garza and Freddie Weinstein.

Additional musicians included: Justine Flinn, David Cragin and Ronnie Wheeler. Produced by Stacy Parish, Art Direction by Jen and Leonard Apodaca. A local classic, “Mind if We Join You?” is a skillful mix of mid-90s alternative rock influenced heavily by Liz Phair and P.J. Harvey (obviously, seeing how Jen's other band from this period, 60 Foot Queenie derived its name from Polly Jean's song “50 Ft. Queenie” 60 Foot Queenie, formed in Los Angeles is not to be confused with 50 Foot Queenie, a P.J. Harvey tribute band) 60 Foot Queenie wasn't much of a departure from Jenny Clinkscale. Not long after that, Jen ditched the rock & roll lifestyle, declaring herself a failed rock star goddess.

“When my plans to become a world-famous rock star didn't pan out, I decided to try being a lesbian instead, didn't pull that off either” Jen set about becoming a writer (of books and such) She's since authored several tomes starting with “My Life as a Rock Goddess” 2001, “Don't Sleep with Your Drummer” 2002, The Straight Girl's Guide to Sleeping with Chicks” 2005 and “You Are a Badass: How to Start Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” 2013. As a success coach, sex advice columnist and New York Times bestselling author, Jen has found the success and acclaim that eluded her as a rock musician. (The Huffington Post describes her as a “motivational cattle prod” who's goal in life is to encourage people to live “lives of unbridled awesomeness”)

  “Rub Till It Bleeds”

Sincero also hosted of her own nationally syndicated sex advice column, Living in Sin. “the sexpert with the carnal knowledge you need. Ask her your question. Cuz there's no such thing as being too good in bed” A NSFW endeavor with entries such as one titled: “Taking it to the Rim” it went like this, Dear Jen, I have recently discovered that I love rim jobs, both giving and receiving them. Yet, no matter what I try, I can't seem to get anyone to try it. How can I convince them? Jen's response? “Leave it to the human being to evolve into a species that's terrified of its own butthole. But don't despair, As you said, you only recently discovered how much you love having your butt licked. Lord only knows what other undiscovered delights are out there”

Jen's advice was always insightful and compassionate. Cuz, people got problems: “Dear Jen, I love to watch porn and have fantasized about group sex with my wife and this is causing a problem in my marriage” Dear Jen, I’ve been in love with my neighbor. We recently hooked up a couple of times - he kissed me for the second time and I blew him twice. Dear Jen, I'm a 20 year-old, bisexual-leaning lesbian who has not done anything sexual with either gender. I get turned on easily and love to masturbate all the time. One titled “Holes and Poles” is worth sharing: Dear Jen, I have a question that's been driving me NUTS. I can't decide between boys and girls. It's killing me. Have you ever felt this way?

She also appears on The Blog at The Huffington Post “Without your questions, she is like a flip with no flop, tuna with no mayo, a columnist with no column” Some of the highly entertaining entries included: Don't Let the Holidays make you their Bitch, The Tao of Houseguesting, Watch Your Mouth Dude, Live Like Your Life Depends on It, How to Stop Dating the Wrong People, Threesome's a Crowd and Merrily Skipping into the Unknown. In 2011, Jen packed all her belongings in storage and traveled around the world as a member of the NPA (No Permanent Abode) promoting the Zen of Jen “We humans can get used to anything. The problem is that we often use this glorious ability of ours to stay stuck in mediocrity. Oh the years we waste adapting to lousy marriages, soul sucking jobs, being friends with people who are rude to waitresses...” 

Your Brain is Your Bitch
Dear Jen: I'm sleeping and right in the middle of a good dream, like all at once... I wake up from something that keeps knocking at my brain. Before I go insane, I hold my pillow to my head and spring up in my bed screaming out the words I dread.... I think I love you (I think I love you) You are fucking awesome. What is wrong with me?_ Cosmic Cold Cut
Dear Jen: I wanna be a bad ass too, I want to move out of Loserville and into a penthouse in Awesome City.... am I capable of overcoming my weeny dog tendencies and becoming a pitbull? I want to take a bite out of life._ Last Guy in Guyville

You can keep up with Jen Sincero at Online, Jen has more memes than Bad Luck Brian and more quotes than Winston Churchill, here's some of my favorites:

“You are loved. Massively. Ferociously. Unconditionally. The Universe is totally freaking out about how awesome you are. It’s got you wrapped in a warm gorilla hug of adoration. It wants to give you everything you desire. It wants you to be happy. It wants you to see what it sees in you.”

“You are responsible for what you say and do. You are not responsible for whether or not people freak out about it.”

“It sucks being in love with someone and never being allowed to show it.”

“If you work with great people, it will be a great experience. Even if you're shoveling shit.”

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

“Faith is the muscle you use when you decide to blast outside of your comfort zone and transform your life into something that’s practically unrecognizable to you in your present reality.

If You want to Kick Ass, You must first pick up your foot

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 40

Vision Quest
 The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world”

Hello Visionary! We now have the technology at our fingertips allowing us to better gauge the popularity of local artists. Two readily available yardsticks by which to measure the adoration of our hometown idols are Facebook and You Tube. Using this criteria, it's no contest.... Brokencyde (yes, those butt pirates are still out there) reps the Duke City better than anyone else. It's not even close, their FB page clocks in with over half a million likes. These standard bearers of bad taste also reign supreme on You Tube. Their video for “Freaxx” has over 10 million views, “Booty Call” w/E-40 claims over 4 million views. “Get Crunk” over 12 million views. “40oz.” over 3 million views.... etc.

How do you like them apples? Love 'em or hate 'em (I lean towards the latter, though I do begrudgingly tip my hat to them) Brokencyde have achieved a level of success matched by just one other band with Albuquerque roots... The Shins. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. This however isn't about the sultans of screamo. I'm just using them as a barometer by which other local bands can be measured by. With this in mind and with The Shins no longer associated with the land of enchantment, who comes in second? That would be Lindy Vision (formerly known as Black Natives) who are closing in on 4,000 FB likes, though on You Tube they lag far behind (just one video “Pink + Black” has pulled in over 1,000 views) That's a crying shame. 

You almost wouldn't expect Lindy Vision to hail from Albuquerque. Visually they present a stunning and exotic image not normally associated with 'Burque or New Mexico for that matter. The three Cuylear sisters, Dorothy (Dee-Dee) vocalist, songwriter, keyboards. Natasha (Na)- guitar,vocals and Carla - drums are strikingly beautiful in a head turning, jaw dropping sort-a-way. Equal parts K-pop divas and new wave rave queens. Raised in Southern New Mexico now making their homes in Albuquerque. Their mixed heritage (Native/African American) sets them apart.... but it's the music that seals the deal. Disco beats for millennial shoegazers. A soundtrack for the debauched rave set. Stripped down intelligent synth pop loaded with sex appeal and danceable rhythms.

I've got the white noise it drives me insane” Lindy Vision's name derives from a passage in Malcolm X's autobiography where he (along with co-author Alex Haley) describes the “Lindy Hop” dance culture (a predecessor of the modern dance club scene) “The spotlight would be turning pink, yellow, green and blue, picking up couples lindy-hopping as if they had gone mad” In this sense, using modern vernacular, Lindy can be defined as "turnt up " Positive/Negative... as the party rages on, we feed off the contradictory nature of a world divided into either fun or serious things... pink + black. Innocence pitted against the relentless need for a stimuli, be it sex, drugs, music. All the while, facing a dilemma: that eventually those turnt up must turnt down “You want the white horse to come save you now”

The Cuylear sisters are far from random, they have a vision. They've built a template for success and are now in the process of tearing shit up. Their presentation is slick, professional and visually stunning. Their fans, referred to as Visionary or Visionaries, (in the same manner in which Lady Gaga refers to her fans as Little Monsters) “You are a Visionary if you believe in us and what we are doing OR if you are doing what you believe in regardless if it is the norm or not” The key to simplicity is divine. Dorothy gets this “People think that we're going to sound like something, and we surprise them and sound like something completely different so I think that's kind of the beauty of being ethnic and being in this profession and being from New Mexico”

To be realistic today is to be visionary. To be realistic is to be starry-eyed” Lindy Vision's discography is short and sweet. All their music is self-released. “Pink + Black” a five song ep was released in 2014 followed by their debut album “Luck + Life” in 2015. On “Luck + Life” Lindy Vision jettisons the baggage that accompanies associations with genre tags and categories. Dee Dee skillfully navigates “the perils of contentedness and the possibilities within despair” as she guides us through a pulsating emotional landscape singing in a voice that betrays a weary young soul with time worn problems. “Daybreak, don't want to know about the mistakes, don't want to know where your hands have been” If you're a fan of local music, you can't do without it. Currently, the band has finished work on their second album, “Lindy + Vision” which will be available on July 22nd. 2016.

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 40, the second in a three part series spotlighting the women involved in Albuquerque's local music scene. Boy Howdy!

Meet in Air ~ The Glass Menageries
Resident ~ Bigawatt
Stop Moving ~ Lindy Vision
Wild Night ~ Lady Uranium
Disco ~ The Foxx
Orale ~ 5 Star Motelles
Get Away Smooth ~ The Jenny Clinkscale Band
Headache ~ The Eyeliners
Fort Surrounded ~ The Rondelles
Bastard Son of Medora ~ Hazeldine
Lake Havasu ~ The Grave of Nobody's Darling
Oh No ~ Jenny Wren Sounds
Holy Ghosts and Holy Smokes ~ Animals in the Dark
Secret Spy ~ The Eyeliners
Getting High Off the Lows ~ The Jenny Clinkscale Band

Friday, July 1, 2016

I'm Queen

I find it hard to articulate... I find it hard to pronounce these words”

She was 12 or 13 when it started, a victim of bullying at a middle school in Denver. One particular boy liked to tell her she was fat — "piggy," to be exact. Without thinking, she grabbed the nearest lunch tray, swung it and connected it to the boy's face. "He was knocked down to the floor, I kicked him in the stomach. I kicked him. I kicked him and screamed at him. The teachers came up to me and pulled me off. "From that day forward people would say, 'You don't want me to pull "the Teri" on you.” An alter-ego was born.

Take Liz Phair's cocksure sexual self awareness, give it a garage punk beat, filter it through the experiences of a young Chicana growing up in Denver, before being abruptly uprooted to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mx...... mold it into unruly three minute discourses on alienation, displacement and the never ending war against misogyny (in this case the machismo culture that infects Mexican society) and you have Teresa Suarez, aka Teri Gender Bender, the clever, sensual and mesmerizing musician behind Le Butcherettes. She's a unique musical bi-product of clashing cultures, who rages against the machine with rancor and honesty. Teresa sings in her native language... English, though she's equally proficient in Spanish. Her unmistakably American vocals, give away her extensive musical influences.

The Tapatio whirlwind wields a guitar like a cleaver.... all down strokes and slashing riffs (Teri asked her father to buy her a guitar at 10 years old after she had dreams about playing the guitar) On stage she demands your attention. Seeking to satisfy her need to feed your soul, punishing her instruments.... smashing her keyboard, then tossing it aside like an inattentive boyfriend. The uninitiated are taken aback. The divide between her and the audience melts away, Teri stage dives backwards into their midst, arms outstretched. She begs for punishment and finds only admiration, love and an occasional call to “show us your titties” Teri builds to a raging orgasmic climax. The fans eat it up. It's a mental health balancing act not seen since sullied Mexican pop diva Gloria Trevi was titillating the masses. 

"There's so many demons I have inside — they're little gods," she said as she mimed the act of holding a baby when asked about her songwriting approach. "There's a god of evil, the god of good, the god of sex, the god of lust. With music, I tap into those god demons. It's therapy" Los Angeles Times, Todd Martens

Born in Denver to an Hispano American father and Mexican mother, Teri's life changed dramatically when her father died of a heart attack and her mother decided to move back to Mexico. “They considered me different, like a weirdo, because my Spanish was not Tapatío; I had an accent. They called me gringa (slang for American) I felt alienated.” You can only smash so many boys in the face with a lunch tray, Tori quickly learned to channel her seething rage into other outlets such as music. Formed in 2007, Le Butcherettes gained notoriety using visual elements such as meat, pig heads, and blood. “It was a metaphor of the people’s perception of women as pieces of meat, when in reality, they’re the pigs” Teresa's intense demeanor isn't for the faint of heart and eventually it led to tension with her drummers starting with Auryn Jolene, who formed one half of the original Guadalajara duo.

Distressingly, their differing views on radical feminism led to Auryn treating Teresa in an abusive manner. At one point Auryn went so far as to declare to the Mexican media that the band was over.... all of which came as a surprise to Teri, who had no intention of putting Le Butcherettes on hiatus. Teresa may have languished in Guadalajara had it not been for a chance encounter with Omar Rodriguez-López (originally from El Paso, Tx., of At the Drive-In and Mars Volta fame) Omar just happened to be present at a dive club in Guadalajara where Le Butcherettes were one of five acts playing. Just before the proceedings were to get underway, there was a power outage. The bands scheduled to preform opted not to play with one exception.

With bullhorn in hand, Teri Gender Bender literally dragged her drummer onstage. Le Butcherettes played a complete acoustic set. This caught Omar's attention, who was drawn in by the Teresa's "dedication to the spirit of the moment." Rodríguez-López, wasted little time signing Le Butcherettes to his own label. This first break brought about a series of changes. Lia Braswell, blonde and lanky, a drummer from Southern California (she also plays with Gothic Tropic) replaced Auryn Jolene. Lia fit in well, but eventually it was a bit much (Lia admits having been "frightened," when Teri would suddenly start urinating on stage. Onstage their chemistry was captivating, a bit like The White Stripes if Meg White had fronted the band and played guitar with Jack White behind the drum set. 

Next up was Normandi Heuxdaflo. A rather odd fellow, Normandi performs in what resembles a luchador mask made from a leatherhead era football helmet. (Teri claims the mask represents men oppressed by feminism) Heuxdalfo was brought in on a temporary basis after Auryn's departure, but he quickly made himself at home. Teresa explained in an interview how he came to see himself as not just a permanent member of the band (which he wasn't) but also as its front man. While their relationship was contentious, on stage they clicked like clockwork. Normandi's beefy beat propelling the band at break neck speed. After the sessions for the “Sin Sin Sin” album, the palpable strain took its toll and Normandi was sent packing. The split, same as with Auryn Jolene was not amicable to say the least.

Following the band's discovery by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and their signing to Nadie Sound. Le Butcherettes relocated... first to San Diego and then to Los Angeles, Teri's current home base (her mother left Guadalajara and now lives in El Paso, Tx.) Teri then teamed up with bass player Jonathan Hischke and drummer Gabe Serbian for a series of concert dates, though she's currently backed by drummer Chris Common and bassist-guitarist, Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez, Omar's younger brother. He is best known as the keyboardist and percussionist of The Mars Volta and the drummer for Zechs Marquise. Bosnian Rainbows, a collaboration between Omar and Teri resulted in a well received album release in 2013 and a subsequent tour.

And while the band's fame is of the cult variety, Le Butcherettes has a host of influential fans, including Garbage's Shirley Manson and Henry Rollins of Black Flag notoriety. Rollins, a master of rock intensity himself, praises, Suarez's "powerful intellect" and compares her stage presence to that of Iggy Pop. "She's something," he said. "She's a star. It's like a great character in a movie. You want to know what happens when the movie is over. You want to know the rest of the story with her." Los Angeles Times, Todd Martens

Le Butcherettes' discography is a mixed bag of rage fueled, garage punk inspired rock and self indulgent oddities, combined with Teri's brand of modern feminism... all presented with a decidedly American slant. One thing is for sure, Teresa Suarez has shown a growing maturity and sophistication both emotionally and in her music. This could be the result of Teri finally finding her rightful place in this world. From my own experiences, living between two cultures and two languages has its rewards and pitfalls or as many folks caught in that predicament will attest to: You're neither here nor there. Too gringo for the Mexicans and too Mexican for the gringos. Seeing how Teri is hard wired, nothing comes easy, not for her nor her fans. But, don't be afraid homies, dive right in, she won't hurt you.

“Kiss & Kill” ep. recorded in 2008, released for download on Bandcamp in 2015 is the only recording available from the Guadalajara period when Le Butcherettes was a duo consisting of Teri Gender Bender and Auryn Jolen. “Sin Sin Sin” was the band's first fully realized album, recorded after Teri joined forces with Rodriguez-Lopez Productions. It's also the only recording featuring Normandi Heuxdalfo. “Cry is for the Flies” released in 2014 is another Rodriguez-Lopez Production, features Lia Braswell on drums, Henry Rollins spoken word on “Moment of Guilt” and Shirley Manson (Garbage) vocals on “Shame, You're All I've Got” “Chaos as Usual” is a split ep w/The Melvins released on the Amphetamine Reptile label in 2015 and last but not least “A Raw Youth” produced by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and featuring Chris Commons, Jamie Aaron Aux, Iggy Pop, John Frusciante, Deantoni Parks(Mars Volta) and Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez, is Le Butcherettes latest release.