Short and Sweet NYC

Alabama Shakes: Boys & Girls

Alabama Shakes
Boys & Girls
(ATO Records)

If Janis Joplin had lived to see the current crop of music, she’d definitely be proud to hear Alabama Shakes. The Southern rockers have managed to capture a mood so vintage that it sounds like Boys & Girls would be best heard playing over a classic car’s radio or in a jukebox.

Frontwoman Brittany Howard has a versatile voice that can go from Robert Plant to Marlena Shaw within a breath.  Bandmates Heath Fogg, Zac Cockrell, and Steve Johnson back Howard up with arrangements that are aged to perfection. Though the band is only a few years old, its debut LP already sounds like a classic.

“Rise to the Sun,” for instance, combines the dreamy feeling of 1950’s rock with a good bit of soul. “You Ain’t Alone” features the sharp guitar parts so prevalent in doo-wop, while the brief  “Goin’ to the Party” chronicles a night out and the journey home, while “Heartbreaker” is a piece of retro finery.

It’s clear from the consistent sound of Boys & Girls that Alabama Shakes aren’t just a band gleaning inspiration from another era. Their sound is all their own–gritty, but beautiful and deserving to be blasted.

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