CD Review of Bitchin’ by The Donnas
Recommended if you like
Joan Jett, Def Leppard, L7
Label
Purple Feather Records
The Donnas: Bitchin’

Reviewed by Greg M. Schwartz

B
itchin’ begins a new era for the Donnas; they’ve parted ways with Atlantic Records and issued the album on their own new independent label. But that doesn’t mean the band is changing gears stylistically; Bitchin’ is full of the loud, anthemic hard rock that the Donnas are known for.

The title track leads off the album with some Iron Maiden-style riffs that lead one to believe the band may be toughening up its sound, but this turns out to be just a tease. “Don’t Wait Up for Me” sets the tone for the album as the band lays down its trademark sound – one part ‘80s pop metal and one part girl pop punk. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and L7 are obvious influences, but the Donnas fill a void in that regard; hard rockin’ female musicians remain, as ever, in short supply.

The DonnasSongs such as “Like an Animal,” “Love You Til It Hurts” and “Give Me What I Want” find vocalist Brett Anderson paying homage to love and sex in a hard rock role reversal, where the female is the pursuer instead of the pursued. Guitarist Allison Robertson mixes single-note riffs with power chords, and short-but-hot solos, while Drummer Torry Castellano and bassist Maya Ford keep the rhythm section simple, yet tight.

The Donnas aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel; their three-chord rock style pays homage to straightforward influences such as AC/DC, Aerosmith, Kiss, Def Leppard, Ratt, Poison, etc. But fans of the band’s melodic rock and power pop harmonies will find plenty of what they’re looking for on tunes such as “Don’t Wait Up for Me,” “What Do I Have to Do,” “Save Me” and “Here for the Party.” “Save Me” stands out as classic ‘80s-style hard rock with its infectious riffs, upbeat lead vocal, catchy backing vocals and a simple-yet-sharp bass line that elevates the hook by leaving plenty of sonic space.

The Donnas

The Donnas’ most unique attribute may be the melodic power pop backing vocals that help propel many of the songs to a higher level, best exemplified on the catchy “Smoke You Out.” The song also features some of Robertson’s best fretwork – a solo filled with melty licks, as well as some nice finger-picked melodic doublestop rhythm guitar. It’s only a shame Robertson isn’t given more space to step out, because she’s got some skills – she didn’t get to share a guitar magazine cover with Tom Morello and Dave Navarro a few years ago just because she has a pretty face. “Girl Talk” is another standout for Robertson, as she throws down a variety of sharp riffs and stinging harmonics.

There’s not much stylistic diversity on Bitchin’, but like their favorite rockers of decades gone by, the Donnas have a simple, straightforward sound that serves their avowed purpose of good time rock and roll.

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