Here – as Thunderbitch we have Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes in full side-project/alter-ego mode. She’s in character as [The] Thunderbitch as she powers these proto-rock’n’rollers toward some form of oblivion.
Actually most of this Suzi Quatro-meets-Phantom of The Paradise dress-up sounds like a bit-part player from the chorus of The Rocky Horror Show getting his/her revenge around their surely-best scenes ending up on the cutting-room floor.
Maybe you have to care about Alabama Shakes to begin with? I don’t know – I just know I never could because when a band tries that hard to be marketed on a blatant non-image it’s nearly as insulting as any of the cash-grabs or gimmicks that the pretty birds have. No one wanted to come out and directly say it but Alabama Shakes seemed to exist as a literal transliteration of Leonard Cohen’s “We are ugly but we have the music” line. For that music to then mean something in and of itself and out on its own the music has to – well – mean something. And to me it just doesn’t. Not utter shit. But not exciting. Not anything that stands up on its own. The way people praised Howard’s playing and singing was like they were amazed at all of the tricks the circus animal could do.
All I’ve ever heard from Alabama Shakes and now Thunderbitch is a lot of whoopin’ and hollerin’, a lot of angry slashes in the direction of a guitar that still sound far too clean or at least not at all interesting. And basic pub-rock changes. And basic sloppy-garage drums. And I imagine most of the fans slip in the words ‘bluesy’ and/or ‘blues-rock’ and just the thought of that gives me the fucking shits.
I guess I can admire the tossed-off arrogance/madness/manic-energy of Thunderbitch as an album/concept.
But it just doesn’t stick.
It’s a whole lotta shoutin’ goin’ on.