The now-solo Bitch performs this month in Houston
Sometimes, your “better half” is your weaker half, your more cumbersome half, or just plain half of that to which you amount. In the case of the group Bitch and Animal, the two openly lesbian songstresses might not have been an item (i.e., each other’s “half”), but they were a duo, and it’s becoming obvious that the former is far better off without the latter. Bitch and Animal were more akin to beat poets than they were conventional songwriters—rife with a determined, poignant voice and a lot to say with it, but little to offer in the way of melodic prowess with which to get that message across.
Last fall, Bitch released her solo debut Make This/Break This (Kill Rock Stars) and shattered that mold. Her tools—an electric violin, ukulele, and bass guitars—are again patently minimal, but she has taken on the wisdom of producer June Millington and three-time Grammy-nominee Roma Baran to tighten everything up.
The results jump straight out of the speakers. Her character as an outspoken singer has finally caught up with her musical abilities (she classically trained in violin from the age of four). What’s more, she has merged the two fluidly.
Bitch and Animal was critically lauded in some circles, yes (although not by this writer), but there is something to her character now that transcends what that band accomplished—as if she’s come out of her shell on this record. The endorsements—such as that of Ani DiFranco (who co-produced and released Bitch and Animal’s second album) and Indigo Girls (who took Bitch on tour this past fall)—continue, but she’s also branched out. John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch ) put her in his film Shortbus, the Showtime series The L Word has featured her songs, and she’s even to be seen in the Bright Eyes “First Day of My Life” video.
Bitch’s music—which can be heard on April 7, 9 p.m. at Jet Lounge—is still minimal, it’s still politically charged, it’s still relevant, and still poignant. She’s just figured out a hell of a lot better way to get all of that across on her own.
Lance Scott Walker writes frequently about music for OutSmart magazine.