MARCH ALBUM OF THE MONTH: THUNDERMOTHER – THUNDERMOTHER
Some of my albums of the month are picked purely on the songs. Sometimes an album lands that stands for something bigger. This album makes an emphatic, bold statement about the power of a band to endure and overcome. Thundermother is back with a new line up, a fiercely powerful collection of songs that ooze life, purpose and command engagement. A lesson for any young band out there that grapples with uncertainty and line-up changes – clouds do have silver linings – and sometimes the best is ahead; created by the way a band reacts to change and sees the future as an opportunity.
The new Thundermother release is an album that, quite simply, grows on you. It won’t go away. I first listened to it six weeks ago, when considering my album of the month for February. As always, I responded cautiously to yet another rock album being pitched to me as one of the most rocking albums of 2018. On first listen, I remember it was very easy to like. It didn’t knock my head off on first listen, but it had something about it that kept it on my desk – for weeks. Too good to put away and it always seemed to outlive the following week’s music promos that came and went in a week. For six weeks, through rain and shine, the CD held it’s place with a kind of “hello, I’m still here” smile on its face. This is a quality the spin-doctors can’t influence or invent; it can only be determined by the music itself.
The simple truth, six weeks later the album is still standing, I’ve played four different songs on my Friday show – all favourably received – and we’ve discovered a new listener favourite with ‘Follow your Heart’ that I think is in for a long stay on the Friday rock show. The fact that unlikely gems on the album can fly on radio is the ultimate testament to the depth and range of quality material this album showcases.
We got a first taste of the new Thundermother line up last summer with their first single ‘We Fight For Rock n Roll.’ It probably should have been the album opener – a comeback song with real intent, unashamed of its influences, confident in its execution and polished in its production.
The album opener ‘Revival’ builds in layers and introduces Guernica’s vocals which shine throughout the album – performances of real verve with a commanding presence and perfect rock attitude. The opening track references classic AC/DC inspired riffs and has a live studio sound. As with many tracks on the album, this is spirited feel-good rock n roll, delivered with energy and passion. It’s not reinventing the word, but it’s delivered with real class.
Next up, one of the band’s recent singles ‘Whatever’ shows a bit more edge from the band, spitting out a bit more venom. It’s up-tempo and direct – and along with ‘Racing on Mainstreet’ and ‘Rip Your Heart Out’ – this band just flies when the tempo rises.
‘Hanging At My Door’ in contrast feels like more of a radio-friendly driving rocker, whereas ‘Quitter’ gives us some heavier rock and is probably destined to be a live favourite during festival season.
The vocals throughout this album are very special. If Aaron Buchanan blew people away in 2017 with his vocal master classes – drawing references to 70s Freddie – here we have his female counterpart. Guernica’s vocals ooze personality, attack and are delivered with a rock edge and real power. It’s a vocal that wakes you up and makes you react. Musically, Filippa conjures up what seems likes a self-contained music festival of non-stop guitar riffage from start to finish – song writing that is exciting and fresh: guitar playing that is accomplished and polished. The band is also anchored by a really connected rhythm section: From this album, you would have thought this line-up had been together for years.
It’s an album with real firepower. It’s almost exhausting for the relentless run of good tunes and, 10 tracks in, four of the best songs come at the end – an interesting quartet for being quite different; but each adds something distinct to the album. Following the already mentioned radio rock anthem ‘Fight For Rock n Roll’ and the emotionally charged ‘Follow Your Heart’ – ‘Children Of The Rampage’ evokes memories of the sumptuous sound of 1970s Heart and the album closer ‘Wont Back Down’ just grabs you and slaps you in the face: a power anthem about standing tall and enduring whatever the odds. Overlaying the AC/DC-esque riffs, the wonderful melodies and spiralling chorus vocals reminded me of Sheer Heart Attack-era vocal arrangements Freddie would have gone for.
I picked out ‘Follow Your Heart’ for a month’s play listing for March on my Friday show but, in truth, this album is a chocolate box full of surprise pleasures. Any song could instantly become the next favourite, and many of the best songs were not even singles. ‘Survival Song’ may well be our next choice for an outing on the rock show. The fact we can’t make our mind up which song we stick with for radio is possibly the biggest compliment I can give this album. With many albums, it’s easy to pick the 2-3 standout tracks. With this album it’s near impossible to settle on just one song for more than a week.
Some albums are great because, technically they break new ground. Rock n Roll, though, is ultimately about heart and that’s what makes this release shine. It’s true, alive, direct and totally unrestrained in its delivery. This is the true spirit of rock n roll people – welcome to the new and improved Thundermother.
The new album is released 23rd February 2018
New album and merch info at: http://thundermother.com
Vocals: Guernica Mancini
Guitar: Filippa Nässil
Drums: Emlee Johansson
Bass: Sara Pettersson