Alabama Shakes' frontman kicks listeners in the face on solo debut 'Thunderbitch'

Following the trend of surprise album releases, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes fame released her self-titled solo project under the moniker Thunderbitch with a self-titled album of intelligently-curated songs that project nothing but classic rock 'n' roll goodness.

'Thunderbitch' shares a tonal relationship with Alabama Shakes, but thematically, the project aims to be more concise and aggressive in the songwriting. While moments on this record show slivers of songwriting similarity, the overall sound is a great enough shift away from the established Shakes sound that the need for a solo project seems necessary.

The first cut off this record is an ode to rock called "Leather Jacket." Guitars ebb from chugging to pulling, which let Howard display her absolutely monstrous voice with ease. At moments, she displays a recklessly raspy tone along with some serious punk attitude, but the song at its core is a traditional rock song.

The raspy and growling singing continues for the rest of the record on shorter more blazing songs such as "I Don’t Care," "I Just Wanna Rock n' Roll" and "Eastside Party." Howard seems to be trying too hard to let you know that she really likes rock ‘n' roll, but listeners won’t care too much because the songs are so well put together.  

Even with the longer cuts from this album, no song stays its welcome so much that you get sick of any moment. Tracks like "Closer," "My Very Best Friend" and "My Baby is My Guitar" display more repetition and restraint in Howard’s songwriting ability, but she shines with tracks that just shove a healthy dose of galloping guitars in your face to match her monumental amount of attitude.

Lyrically, Howard isn’t waxing philosophy or even saying anything deep in these songs. She avoids painting images and prefers to bludgeon the listener over the head by being direct; it’s wonderful. Her brevity only adds to the aggressive vibe that is crafted in every moment of this album. Stylistic flairs in her singing and pronunciation add some nice chutzpah, but nothing too major. 

The sound quality on this album is enjoyable, balancing out the clarity in the tone of all the instruments while maintaining an analog crunch and spacey feeling to all of the tracks. The guitar work is definitely shoved towards the front, but not to the detriment of the sounds, which only serve as added flavor to this rock monster. 

This album isn't meant to be a bastion of restraint and experimental song structuring. From the moment Howard's guitar can be heard, she wants you to break things and be all the nightmares that scare parents about rock 'n' roll. 

There isn't a deeper message to really be grasped, but if you stare at the lyrics, you might glean something unintended from it. 

The album just wants you to go rock and do what you want. So in the words of Shia, "just do it." 

Related Links:

Alabama Shakes experiment and expand on new album 'Sound & Color'

10 things you may have missed at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards


Reach the reporter at dloche@asu.edu or follow @DMLoche on Twitter.

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