Infinite Shuffle

July 3, 2012

120 – Alabama Shakes

Filed under: A, Athens Ala. — assman41 @ 3:44 am

It never fails. Every year, the indie tastemakers find one new act to hype the hell out of — often before it even releases its first full-length album.

And usually, because of the excessive hype, I end up steering clear of said band for several months, no matter whether I think I might like it or not.

Some of the notable “it” bands have included Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend and The XX.

This year, the band is Alabama Shakes, the roots rock quartet hailing from Athens, Ala., that has become the darlings of the indie scene.

Formed in 2009 by lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard and high school classmate Zac Cockrell (bass), along with Heath Fogg (guitar) and Steve Johnson (drums), Alabama Shakes put out a self-titled EP last fall and went viral seemingly overnight.

One listen to their first single, “Hold On”, and it’s clear that they have the chops to live up to the critical praise.

And while their debut LP — Boys & Girls, which came out in April — is solid, the sound is one that could get old fast. For the most part, Brittany and the boys do their best impression of Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Howard’s similarity to Janis Joplin is unmistakable and perhaps even better than the original.

Alabama Shakes put out the kind of music that a lot of people can agree upon. But there are plenty of music fans that will probably be turned off by them — either because they’re turned off by the lack of depth or because they’re too pretentious to enjoy this style of music.

It’ll be interesting — after all the hoopla dies down — to see where the Shakes go from here. They could easily churn out more of the same tunes to a public that will eat it up. Or, they could try to develop as a band and add some nuance to their sound.

Either way, it’s doubtful they’ll be falling off the map any time soon.

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