Sunday, April 19, 2015

Whole Lotta More Shakin' Going On

Alabama Shakes
Sound & Color
Produced by Blake Mills
ATO Records
Five Scoops Plus of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

The fifth track of Alabama Shakes second album, Sound & Color ("Gimme All Your Love"), due out Tuesday (April 21) will absolutely send chills up your spine.

You might be asking, where did these guys and young lady come from and how can they be so accomplished at Blues and R&B at such a young age?

The answers of course are Athens, Alabama and either you feel and live the blues or you don't.

You really can't teach this stuff.

Although AS's Bethany Howard and Zac Cockrell cut their teeth listening, learning and covering the music of Led Zeppelin, Otis Redding and James Brown and the fact that their sound sometimes is reminiscent of the early R&B and Blues Pioneers, Alabama Shakes have their own fresh, unique sound.

It's as if they have taken all of those influences, put them in a blender and made, well, an Alabama Shake.

 It's raw, energized, and powerful stuff. You will be hard pressed finding this sound anywhere else today.

If this album doesn't at least get consideration for Record of the Year, I will be absolutely shocked. This is the best album I have heard this year.

The sound of Alabama Shakes is anchored by Bethany Howard who can already take her place right up there with some of the best Female R&B and singers like Etta James, Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin. Yes, she is that powerful and that good.

The band consisting of Heath Fogg on guitar, Zac Cockrell on bass,  Steve Johnson (drums) with Bethany Howard (guitars) is just as wonderful and proficient as any backing band out of Stax Records in the 1960's.

Other influences are channeled in this new album too, expanding on AS's repertoire in their 2012 masterpiece Boys and Girls.  "The Greatest" and "Shoegaze" have a very hard driving punk vibe to it.  And songs like "Dune" and "Over My Head" are downright Spiritual in nature.

My favorite song on the album is the powerful Blues-Rocker "Don't Wanna Fight".  It's Alabama Shakes at their best.

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