Alabama Shakes

Boys & Girls

Written by: PP on 09/08/2012 08:55:14

You might have noticed the name Alabama Shakes popping up on various news outlets, magazines, and other media sources as of late. It's not because of a strong marketing push - even though a reasonable one exists behind the band - but simply because their debut album "Boys & Girls" speaks to every man's love for music with a soul. In particular, Alabama Shakes reminds us of the days of Led Zeppelin much in the same way as Rival Sons do on their material, except these guys do it with a much more indie rock flavor than what we're used to hearing from the retro rock bands of recent years (think Wolfmother, The Parlor Mob, etc), so they are naturally more fit for the mainstream music audience.

Basically, Alabama Shakes are the ultimate find for any hipster who enjoys his/her fair share of rock. They channel their 70s influence flawlessly through soulful vocals, which will immediately remind you of the guy from Rival Sons and of course the classic Zeppelin work, and then you realize that the lead vocalist is actually a chick and your mind equals blown. But they also remember to write good songs instead of just retrospective material, which is probably why the band has amassed more than 100,000 Facebook likes in a relatively short period of time. It's all blues and southern rock oriented, but it's less dangerous than your Wolfmother-esque rock'n'roll, and less loud than your Motörheads and other bands normally associated with the genre. Instead, the band offers a soft, oftentimes delicate touch on the soulful blues rock of the 70s, a much lighter and indie-flavored approach compared to their contemporaries.

But none of this would matter if it wasn't for their vocalist Brittany Howard, who sounds like she's the long-lost sister of Robert Plant who was frozen in cryogenic sleep until just a couple of years ago. Her croon is as authentic as it gets to an actual 70s blues/rock vocalist, and the key reason why their otherwise nondescript songs work much better than expected. The rhythms are relaxed and low-key for this reason, so she can have her moments to display her golden throat on a platform above the rest of the music, although there's a decent amount of groove and flair in the deliberately minimalistic instrumentation in itself as well. Is it worth the ridiculous hype many magazines are giving it for the time being (Roskilde Festival included)? Probably not, as this is in no way a match for Rival Sons' "Pressure & Time", but it's still a surprising entry into a crowded genre with a (somewhat) fresh take on it.

Download: Hold On, You Ain't Alone, Be Mine
For the fans of: Rival Sons, Led Zeppelin, Jack White
Listen: Facebook

Release date 09.04.2012
Rough Trade / ATO Records

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