Music Review – Butcher Knives

Musician: Butcher Knives
Album: Misery

Throughout my studies at Athabasca University I have been encouraged to approach the world just a little bit differently and with an open and flexible understanding. I have spent hours mulling over a philosophical concepts originating from a culture much different from my own, determining the significant differences between an individualistic to a collectivist culture and its effects on behaviour, and I have been (metaphorically) walking alongside someone as they tell me what effects post-colonialism has had on them and their country. Thanks to my studies, I now have a much broader understanding and sense of the world.

However, when it comes down to the fundamentals of what brings people together, regardless of country, culture, race, or religion, I have always found that the lowest common denominator is music. And no other band embodies this unifying power of music better than Brooklyn-based Butcher Knives.

Boasting the creation of their own music genre, Butcher Knives? gypsybilly is an amazing blend of languages and musical influences from all over the world. Members of the band come from Morocco, Israel, Colombia, New York, and New Orleans, each musician brings with them their ingenious musical talents and together the Butcher Knives have created something truly unique.

Citing The Clash, Johnny Cash, Gogol Bordello and Bob Marley as some of their influences, the music on their debut album Misery challenges conventions and proves that music has the power to overcome any cultural and language barriers.

“Drunken and Down” is my favourite song on this album. The strong accordion intro is incredible in its simplicity. The ensuing chaos of the remainder of the song feels like a dizzying spiral into oblivion. There is a distinct punk influence in this song, but there are also elements of Eastern European music, making “Drunken and Down” feel like a peculiarly fun escapade.

“Nobody Know Me” is a superbly exotic venture. The Eastern European musical influences are most predominant in this song, but the infusion of rap-like lyrics that blur language barriers create a track that surprises and mesmerizes listeners.

However, it is the track “American Dream” that forces audiences to move out of their music comfort zones. It is in this song the Butcher Knives demonstrate exactly what gypsybilly is all about. Demanding to be cranked as loud as possible, “American Dream” blends languages, cultures, and musical traditions. The result is a song that defies not only genres, but the idealization of the American Dream.

With ten tracks in all, Misery offers listeners the world of music in a harmonious blending of sounds and melodies from all over the world. As a homage to the many peoples and nations that come together to create culturally complex cities like New York, Butcher Knives offer audiences an opportunity to experience the world through a multifaceted lens. As university students, it is music like this that will ignite thoughts, spark curiosities; it is music like this that gives us the opportunity to appreciate not only how diverse our world is, but what can be created when cultures and languages work together, and what happens when something as simple as a musical genre is overcome.

Samantha currently uses her skills as a writer to promote independent musicians and raise awareness and support for many global, environmental, and humanitarian issues. Check out her website and blog at: