Review : Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
Billboard"Are you scared to wear your heart on your sleeve?" Frontwoman Brittany Howard isn't, and that gives Alabama Shakes' full-length debut, "Boys & Girls," a great deal of the power and passion that's made the quartet a bona fide buzz band in the past year. A nuevo Janis Joplin incarnate with a force of nature voice-check out last year's jewelry ad sensation "You Ain't Alone" and the powerhouse "Be Mine"-Howard is a romantic but no pushover. You just know the "Heartbreaker" she sings about is likely to get his butt kicked, and that the objects of her attention in "I Found You" and "I Ain't the Same" will toe a hard line if they know what's good for them. The Shakes also show a deft touch with buoyant Muscle Shoals soul-rock-if the legendary studio was located in a garage-on such tracks as "Rise to the Sun," "You Ain't Alone," "On Your Way" and the gospel-flavored "Hold On." Although those who have witnessed the group's floor-shaking live shows might be a bit disarmed by the deliberately dense and lo-fi production of "Boys & Girls."...full text
L.A. TimesThe Alabama Shakes’ first album, "Boys & Girls," is an electric jolt that anyone who loves blues-based rock music should track down immediately. Consisting of three men and one young explosion named Brittany Howard on vocals and guitar, the group, which formed in northern Alabama in 2009, offers stripped down truth, minus any affectation, histrionics or irony.
To mention the group alongside such luminaries is dangerous, but one listen to the seminal riff on "Hang Loose" should silence any doubters: You’ll wonder how the world has never produced this eternal lick until now. Or, actually, Howard’s huge gospel-inspired voice will shut you up whether you like it or not. The same could be said for half a dozen other riffs, choruses and joyous refrains on "Boys & Girls," a record that grows with each listen....full text
Consequence of soundThe album’s other examples of experimentation lay outside the music, found instead in the contextual approach to several songs. “I Found You” is the tale of a long journey, revamping the dynamic of the world-weary man searching for a good woman. “I Ain’t the Same”, which takes a brighter, more bubbly approach, sees Martin cast as the woman now revealing to her beau that she’s at last finished with her troublesome ways.
Though ultra-subtle, these power shifts are lethally effective. By slyly bringing them to the attention of the listener, the changes are neither overwhelming nor overdone, thus making them perfectly suited to hunker down inside the sensibilities of everyone who hears them. As a result, they help to realign what is possible between the sexes in the previously one-sided realm of solid blues-rock.
Even if they are late to the party, Alabama Shakes have proven themselves as a band with a keen understanding of the genre’s basics and a curious spirit perpetually seeking to move upward and onward. From here on out, it’s safe to assume they’re not just a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears rookies and are, quite possibly, the new faces of modern blues-rock....full text
Hit FixCritics have been falling all over themselves to praise Alabama Shakes for the past several months: Paste named the act its best new band of 2011, they were a must-see show at SXSW, and already have a big U.K. following.
Before the inevitable backlash begins, we suggest you grab a copy of “Boys & Girls,” the quartet’s debut album out today, April 10 (it follows last fall's 4-song EP) and find out what all the fuss is about.
The album’s rush of music —11 songs delivered in around 38 minutes —swirls around lead singer Brittany Howard’s bluesy, nuanced vocals. When she sings “Bless my heart/bless my soul/didn’t think I’d make it to 22 years old,” in opening track “Hold On,” instead of sounding pretentious and overly precious, she sounds like an old soul for whom a real world 22 is her weary heart’s equivalent of 92. On “You Ain’t Alone” she conjures up Otis Redding’s ghost in a shivering, memorable performance....full text
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