When listening to the Donnas’ seventh full-length release, Bitchin’, a question immediately comes to mind: what do you call “cock-rock” when it’s performed by a band composed entirely of women? Regardless, the latest release from the California-based box-rockers is a rollicking offering.
Despite fears that the band’s 2006 departure from Atlantic Records would affect the new album, Bitchin’ sounds torn from 1986’s radio waves. It makes sense, considering the girls cite bands like Guns N’Roses, the Ramones, KISS and Anthrax as some of their influences. Every aspect of the release, from guitar solos to lyrics to the album cover itself, seem torn from the time period. It may have seemed played-out several years ago, but it’s a breath of fresh air in a world of sound-alike rock bands. The songs themselves are fun and surprisingly diverse, given the constraints put on the album, with various solos, flairs and stylistic flourishes added in to break up the monotony. It’s just hard to figure out if Bitchin’ is a tribute or a parody.
After nearly 15 years as a group, the Donnas are a fine-tuned musical machine. Their first album on their own label is a poised, charismatic effort. It doesn’t present anything that hasn’t been done before—Bitchin’ is an unabashed hodgepodge of rock’n’roll straight from the ’80s—but the gals perform with such audacity and style that it’s hard to fault them for it.