The Alabama Shakes came out white hot in 2012. With a lot of hype behind them, they made a lot of people skeptical, including myself. Industry insider Bob Lefsetz was the first to write about them saying "They’re not bad, but they’re far from riveting."
Lefsetz's blog caused an uproar that spawned thousands of comments and went on for days (through emails). This had people taking sides and fighting over whether they deserved the hype. Many said the 'Shakes didn't deserve it (a lot of disgruntled musicians), stating that there were other bands who had played longer and worked harder. The haters cried fowl saying the Shakes were afforded luxuries most bands weren't, and that's why they took off.
You see, the story goes something like this. Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers saw the Alabama Shakes play "at a small record store in Florence Alabama,"and liked what he heard. Soon after they were opening for the Truckers and being managed by the same label. From there the word spread, and people were hailing them the next big thing. Now I may be leaving out a few details, but it goes something like that, just google it.
Despite all the hype and made up stories, this band has a classic sound that can't be denied. Singer/guitarist Brittany Howard is the real deal. A soul singer with lyrics to match the deep brooding vocals. She reminds me of so many powerful women singers that it's hard to list them all. Here are a few: Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, and Sharon Jones. The band that backs her does a fine job handling this form of blues-soul fusion, delivering a handful of songs that you must hear.
"Hold On" contained some simple blues and some soulful pop, that together created one of the greatest singles released in 2012. It's an insatiable listen, showcasing Brittany Howard's beautiful voice, and a band that caught lightening in a bottle. "I Found You" screams Motown, "Hang Loose," and "You Ain't Alone" scream Joplin (Janis that is). "On Your Way" sends the LP out in fine fashion, heading for "the promised land." It's upbeat rock and roll, just like the amazing song "Always Right," that was left off the album for use in the Golden Globe nominated movie soundtrack Silver Linings Playbook.
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