Thunderbitch: Thunderbitch (Rough Trade/The Label)

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Thunderbitch: Eastside Party
Thunderbitch: Thunderbitch (Rough Trade/The Label)

Given the band name and that this is a side project for the leather-lunged Brittany Howard, the frontwoman for Alabama Shakes, you can perhaps guess what it sounds like.

Actually it doesn't, it sounds like . . .

But first a digression into the word “bitch” which newspaper editors and subtitle writers for reality shows seem, to me anyway, a little oversensitive.

It is always b**** .

But when did we become so timid about “bitch”?

It's been a perfectly acceptable word – if your vocabulary includes a generous array of profanity; my Scottish mum preferred, as do I, bizzum  – for decades, then suddenly . . .

Calling someone a “bitch” on a show like The Real Housewives of New Jersey immediately sets off hair-pulling, screaming, crying and an escalation into “you fucking whore” and such. In that context “bitch” seems to do the trick, although for my money people who respond that way have very thin skins and astonishingly short fuses. Easy to insult, I guess.

Dumb bizzums.

Anyway we've had rock bands called Bitch (and other variants, and songs) in the past so perhaps those of us in rock culture have become immune and obviously more so than those sensitive souls in New Jersey, or Parnell or wherever.

Thunderbitch seems a very good name for a heavy metal band fronted by a rock chick with attitude . . . but in this incarnation that isn't what they deliver.

With various members of bands named Fly Golden Eagles and Clear Plastic Masks from Nashville, Howard serves up chunky old-style Fifties rock'n'roll – turned up to nine – and slashes of rockabilly, allusions to Phil Spector's sound and the trashy end of rock (New York Dolls, early Japan).

She sings celebrations of her leather jacket, rock'n'roll (a lot), tells us she is a Wild Child (an original), that My Baby is My Guitar and proclaims “I don't care”.

Love is a like a motorcycle engine with four hundred pistons. Nice image. 

I Just Wanna Rock'n'Roll could have come from anyone on the lineage from Chuck Berry, the Stooges, Johnny Thunders, the Ramones and on to Springsteen closing a four hour show in a New Jersey bar.

And I have to say Howard sounds uncannily like Jack White on Very Best Friend, a rock'n'roll rage with Velveet Underground tones which owes a pill-poppin' debt to My Best Friends Girl.

This is handclap rock'n'roll in places too (Eastside Party)  . . . but also mostly a celebration of the genres and a loose party-night side project than anything which seriously adds depth to the rock'n'roll history on display.

Good guitar work, terrific singing but – other than the rockabilly-on-speed Wild Child and the woman-on-wire Very Best Friend – songwise nothing especially memorable unfortunately.

Lotta fun though, especially in its familiarity.

Also available on vinyl with a download card.

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