There is something undeniably classic sounding about Thunderbird’s Self-Titled album (out April 25th, 2018 on Delinquent Records), but it runs much deeper than just the band’s sound. The name itself conjures up classic rock imagery, the album art has a vintage 70s vibe to it, and the band dynamic, the straightforward guitar, vocals, bass and drums setup is congruous of classic rock.
Thunderbird opens with “Liar (Fool’s Gold),” instantly familiar riffs from guitarist Brice Tabish that hearken back to the glory days of American hair metal, Van Halen, Motley Crue and the like. Vocalist Marc LaFrance shows off nice range as he moves between talk-singing, subdued verses and shrieking high octane choruses. The song is tight, with incredibly high production values, but I still can’t escape the ominous feeling that I’ve heard this song a hundred times before.
“Little Jenny” has a sleazy, raw and powerful vibe to it; Faster Pussycat, L.A. Guns are a couple of bands that hit it big with that sound. “Little Jenny” also showcases a device that reoccurs throughout Thunderbird, great storytelling lyrics, “Little Jenny was a friend of mine, she was a riot. Drank neat vodka just to pass the time, she said I ought to try it.” Thunderbird are extremely adept at engaging the listener, “Into The Sun,” “Man Of Clay” and “King Rat” are other examples of tracks with formidable lyricism. The songs all seem to tie together various characters and similar themes that flirt with the conceptual. I would say that ultimately Thunderbird is not a concept album, but that it occupies a unique territory between concept and each song having stand-alone value. This could be a very useful tool for the band given how the state of promoting music and songs these days is in constant flux.
There is a lot on this record that feels familiar and repetitive. “Star” is a “made for radio” straightforward, bluesy rocker. It seems to hit in all the right places; so much so that I lose interest after a minute. That said, if your bag is easily accessible blues rock, with a hard edge, you will get your rocks off on this track and others such as “Painted Lady” and “I’m With You.” Personally, I could do without a number of these songs. I feel Thunderbird are at their best when they throw caution to the wind and hint at something a little more out there, as they do on “King Rat.” Maybe a full concept album is in order?
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Danielle Kenedy