Song of the Day: Thunderbitch – Eastside Party

photo by Ashley Boyd Jones

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Eastside Party” by Thunderbitch from the 2015 self-released, self-titled album.

Thunderbitch – Eastside Party (MP3)

How does Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, one of the most powerful and recognizable singers of the last few years, name her solo project with even greater volume? By dubbing it Thunderbitch, that’s how. Before her eponymous debut was announced in September 2015 with no prior warning – while Howard was in the middle of a still-ongoing tour cycle behind the Shakes’ Sound & Color, no less – Howard had only played a handful of shows under the moniker, and the project’s existence was mostly overshadowed by the endeavors of Alabama Shakes. Backed by members of Fly Golden Eagle and Clear Plastic Masks (who perform under the monikers Matt Man, B Bone, Char Man, A Man, and ThunderMitch), Thunderbitch shares little with the fine-tuned studio-based songs of Sound & Color or the warm, R&B rock of the Shakes’ 2012 debut Boys & Girls: it’s raw, frenetic, roughly recorded, barely-on-the-hinges garage rock that excels by allowing each member to let loose and remain squarely in character with the (often humorously) unbridled tone of the project. That quality is front and center on album highlight “Eastside Party”, where Howard rides a wave of surf guitar and boogie woogie piano at a hundred miles a minute. It’s two minutes of rock and roll lightning, peaking when Howard caps a call-and-response vocal section about the superiority of the Eastside to the Westside with a spat out “Goin’ to the Eastside, motherfucker!” “Eastside Party” is effortless fun, two minutes of pure guitar-generated heat that sounds better with every crank of the volume knob, so turn it up loud.

At least in part due to Howard’s commitment with Alabama Shakes through 2016, Thunderbitch does not have any tour dates scheduled for the near future, but their website suggests “Maybe someday?”. So keep hoping and keep checking in with the band at their website and on Facebook. For now, watch footage of Thunderbitch playing “Leather Jacket” at their sole live performance (to date) behind the album, in which Howard arrives onstage in a motorcycle.

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