By Melanie Woods, September 10 2015 —
Thunderbitch, the surprise project fronted by Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, is what happens when rad musicians have a little spare time but want to have a lot of fun. The band’s online biography, “Thunderbitch. Rock ‘n’ Roll. The end,” summarizes their vision best.
The eponymous album is a surprise collaboration between Howard and members of bands Fly Golden Eagle and Clear Plastic Masks. It also dropped only months after Howard released the excellent album Sound and Colour with Alabama Shakes.
Some feared Howard would be burnt out, but she instead ups her game and explores the upper echelons of her musicality. The album has a sense of playfulness that experiments with tempo, style, production and lyricism.
The highlight of the album comes in the opening moments with the brash, soulful and endlessly groovable “Leather Jacket.” Howard’s rich voice soars alongside the accompanying band as they fight to match her power. The track shifts from high to low-octane while displaying the energy and soul of the very best rock and roll.
Thunderbitch pays tribute to a fair share of music from the past, as tracks like “My Baby is My Guitar,” “Eastside Party” and “I Just Wanna Rock and Roll” mix classic blues progressions with Howard’s sonorous voice and rough-around-the-edges production.
That raw and experimental production is a big part of what makes Thunderbitch great. “I am an engine,” Howard sings on the closing track “Heavenly Feeling,” and it’s hard not to agree.