Well… I missed New Music Monday to honor Robin Gibb… so we’re doing New Music Tuesday… You gotta problem with that?
This is a band that my brother Dan pointed out a while back and one I had been sneaking listens to wherever I could. They were dropping tracks here and there, including “Hold On”, the first single and track #1 from their full length debut. I also picked up “Heavy Chevy” from signing up on their mailing list. It is listed as a “Bonus Track” on the iTunes download… “Album Only”, of course.
Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
Man, do I love that retro sound. There are probably a hundred bands this reminds me of… and I’m sure all of them were influences. Yes, one cannot ignore the infatuation with Janis Joplin, but if she pulls it off… and Brittany Howard really does, then so what.
As far as contemporaries go, the great Sharon Jones & Dap Kings was the first thing that jumped at me. Black Keys followed up pretty quickly after that. Both great bands. I really need to see Black Keys live!!!
Look, if you are going to sound like music from the ’60s and ’70s then people are going to make comparisons and accuse you of being a rip off artist… Most of those people are stupid.
You take your influences… you pay homage and you make your own sound. That is what this band does splendidly.
AllMusic brings Jack White, Drive-By Truckers and the Black Keys into the conversation and they are absolutely right on. Plus, they say what I just said a lot better… “Their roots are just that — roots, not anchors, allowing the group to grow, often in unexpected and quietly thrilling ways.”
AllMusic raves: ”Instead of playing like refractions from a hall of mirrors, Alabama Shakes’ 2012 debut Boys & Girls emphasizes how American roots music is now grounded in the ’60s notion of blues & soul, all filtered through the prism of ’70s classic rock. And it’s not just that Heath Fogg tears great, gnarled riffs out of his guitar while the rhythm section of Zac Cockrell and Steve Johnson hit the downbeat with a brutal force — lead singer Brittany Howard phrases like a rock singer, playing up vocal affections with glee, ratcheting up the drama by laying hard into her elongated phrases.”
“… much of Boys & Girls is anchored in a Southern soul groove spliced from Stax and Muscle Shoals, the guitars of Fogg and Howard full and bold in their cleanly chopped rhythms, echoing the work of Steve Cropper and Jimmy Johnson.”
Here is what I will do when I am considering buying a record… well… downloading something…
First, I’ll listen to it and form my own opinions. To me music is like wine… it does not matter what anyone else thinks or writes… Either I like it or don’t… Who cares… And who cares how much it costs. There are as many spectacular $25 bottles of wine as there are $500… Well…
Second, I do like to read reviews. You’ll find those writers and magazines who have similar tastes and that is a good litmus test for a lot of things… Hell, there is just so much out there, sometimes you need a filter to save you time and a whole lot of money… but listening with your own ears, heart and mind must be the main ingredient.
I also read the peer reviews, especially on iTunes or Amazon. I’ll look at the five stars… and then the one star… and then a few in the middle… They can be funny and scathing and just plain off their rockers… But I have also gotten some great suggestions for other artists this way… The ‘ol “well, if you like this, you’re gonna really love blah, blah, blah…”
Some of the one star reviews for this are just ignorant… What can you do. The review I like the most is my own… and that is this…
This record KICKS ASS!