3

Initially, it might have been easy to dismiss the Butchies as a narrow-cast novelty.

Initially, it might have been easy to dismiss the Butchies as a narrow-cast novelty. After all, how much mileage can be drawn from a lesbian act that merges coffee-house poetry with punk-inflected guitar licks? Yet with 3, the Durham, N.C.-based trio moves beyond such potentially suffocating parameters and emerges as a full-bodied rock band, one that remains honorably true to its roots while also proving to be more than just a conceptual one-trick pony. 3 shows bandmates Kaia Wilson (known in her pre-Butchies days for her affiliation with Team Dresch), Melissa York, and Alison Martlew tempering the raw energy that enlivened 1998's Are We Not Femme? and '99's Population 1975 with notably more complex pop melodies and instrumentation that borrows as much from Led Zeppelin as it does from the Sex Pistols. For every primal roar, like the swaggering "Forget Your Calculus," there's a meditative, musically expansive composition like the heartbreaking "Junior High Lament"—both of which the band moves through with palpable passion and ease. Ultimately, it's that kind of versatility on which long, healthy careers are founded. Distributed by the San Francisco-based Mordam.—LF