This is one of those rare moments where what’s popular and what’s cool intersect. Despite the fact that the Shakes, a four piece blues and soul formation from Athens, Alabama, have been releasing music for less than a year, their album Boys & Girls is already a top ten seller and has now moved well past the six digit mark for units sold. In today’s age of musicless MTV and downloadable singles, they have managed to successfully release an album that’s meant to be enjoyed in it’s entirety.
22 year old singer/guitarist/cool black girlfriend Brittany Howard smooth delivery will have you reaching for that sipping whiskey. There’s even a little something about her that invokes Janis Joplin without seeming like either an imitation or a parody.
Why it’s damn near scientific
Almost as if someone or a group of someones somewheres hunkered themselves down in a lab, only listening to James Brown Live at the Appollo, only the best Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Joe Tex, and Bettye LaVette tracks, and swirled in some of that playful lo-fi 90’s indie rock guitars, sprinkled in some southern timing, took notes, ran stuff through beakers and test tubes, held focus groups, and after beta testing with a four song EP, came up with 12 tracks of smoove business that is both timeless and urgent. Yes, that particular theory would go a long way to explain their growing fame and popularity, but we refuse to believe that any corporate entity would have what it takes to make an album that works in such a subtle manner. For as much as Boys & Girls have sold, for all the television appearances Alabama Shakes have made on Conan, Letterman, and Jools Holland, you’re not hearing this everywhere. It’s not blaring out of every car on campus or every bar downtown, and as of this writing, it’s yet to be used to promote an obnoxious tv show.
Alabama Shakes are the right kind of accessible, they play their instruments like good old fashioned musicians and wear their clothes like regular people.
You can see Alabama Shakes perform their set at Bonaroo live, Friday June 8th at http://www.youtube.com/bonaroo