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Thunderbitch

Alabama Shakes’ leader cuts loose on a wild, fun, raucous side LP

Thunderbitch

Sacha Lecca

Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes doesn’t just “reinvent” rock tradition, or “make it her own.” She makes it her bitch. Hence this well-named side band, in which she goes on a garage-rock spree with some buddies from Nashville, bringing out the New York Dolls junk-shop strut that’s always lingered around the edges of the Shakes’ roughed-up Southern rock and soul. Howard yowls about how she’s a rock & roll wild child who just doesn’t care, even as the surprising amount of craft the band puts into these songs suggests she cares quite a bit: “Leather Jacket” is a Phil Spector-size slop symphony, and “Closer” twists from dark, gritty tension to wailing release for five minutes. But it’s the looser the better here. “Let Me Do What I Do Best” is a mountain-side slide of piercing pianos and headlong, crunching drone that sounds like the Velvet Underground of White Light/White Heat playing a Floribama beach-house keg party. The most fun song is the surf stomper “Eastside Party.” One listen and you’ll want to move to the Eastside — which Eastside? Any Eastside! — as soon as you can burn down whatever lame side of town you live in and hit the road.

In This Article: Alabama Shakes, Thunderbitch

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