Bitch may be returning to the Northwest with some trepidation, after what happened to her at the end of Bitch and Animal’s first cross-country tour.
The duo ended up in Seattle, where they recorded their first album, What’s That Smell? Bitch was going through some relationship problems and was distracted as she pulled onto the highway.
“The sound of the crash and the lights and everything just summed up my relationship so perfectly right then,” Bitch told an interviewer recently.
The high-speed collision became the fodder for “Scrap Metal,” which is a prototypical Bitch and Animal tune. Strands of sound from a violin, djembe, ashiko, and a mini-steel drum float in and out and swirl around a simple bass riff as Bitch and Animal go from choir girl harmonizing to fake rap goofballing. And the words, well … this is a band that once issued a Pussy Manifesto. Sex is around every corner.
“I wanna go down on you/ drive my fingers round/ on you open four lanes/ wide with you,” they sing, in a refrain that would make J.G. Ballard and David Cronenberg proud.
Putting pain through the pussy prism seems to be their preferred way of coming to terms. Now that Bitch and Animal have gotten over that traumatic car crash, they’re ready to come back ’round these parts. Bitch even wears a cowboy hat on the cover of Eternally Hard, the new record on Ani Difranco’s Righteous Babe Records. Difranco discovered the pair and is now hauling them across the country as her opening act. They will be in Missoula Friday.
Here’s how Bitch has described working with Difranco while the folk rock icon was co-producing Eternally Hard:
“I was having a hard time hitting the vulnerability of that song. So Ani made us all get naked and do more takes. Goatboy [engineer Andrew Gilchrist] lost everything but his winter hat, his clipboard, and his socks. So when asked what role Ani played in the recording of this album, I’d have to say she was a) pushy proud mom, b) sweet spot spotter, c) stripper.”
Yes, Bitch has come a long way since she started playing the fiddle because of Sesame Street while growing up in Detroit. But really, enough about Bitch. Animal is from Queens and her influences as listed in her press material include Kafka, Laurie Anderson, Barry Manilow, Morrissey, and the Muppets, a sonic stew that would naturally turn out a “boy girl wonder” who plays the marimba and raps.
The duo met at theater school in Chicago and began performing in Michigan. They’re now based in New York, but have been playing all over the country and even made it to Europe after signing with Righteous Babe.
On the standout songs on Eternally Hard, Bitch and Animal show real talent and promise. “Traffic” is a subtle, but by no means sedate, song that is one of the most stripped down and minimalist in terms of instrumentation, but one of the most soulful. “Six States Away” starts off with a lazily dramatic scene: “It’s a rainy Brooklyn morning/ you’re a phone number/ and six states away,” and builds to a life lesson that somehow seems wise: “Did I mention that I miss you/ and I love you sometimes/ not in that famous/ star-crossed way/ in that love with a limit way.” The last song, “Miss Me My Dear” is also a solid and affecting tune, and at times Bitch’s voice sounds like vintage Liz Phair. All three songs are simple and kind of quiet and could even be described as serious, especially next to sillier tracks like “Best Cock on the Block” or “Ganja.” All three were also produced by Difranco, which bodes well for the band’s future, now that they’re officially Righteous Babes.
The goof-off tracks are pretty grating, but they’re supposed to be fun in person. Bitch and Animal are performance artists, after all. How could you not be when you’re juggling 20 instruments?