Thursday, 12 April 2012

Alabama Shakes' debut album 'Boys and Girls'

Another week has flown by in the land of musikalische and I haven't had much time to review anything!! Luckily, this album is only a week I pray you forgive me.

The southern-state rock group Alabama Shakes release their debut album 'Boys and Girls'. With roots in rhythms and blues, traditional rock, progressive rock and jazz the trio have music which includes laid back vibes, catchy hooks, indulgent riffs and vocals reminiscent of early Kings of Leon. On top of that you get treated to influences by Otis Redding and the Rolling Stones. A 'dusty' approach to the production works utter wonders (which is most noticeable on Heavy Chevy). The vocals sound crisp enough for today's audience but authentic and reminiscent of a rusty 60s-70s rock 'n' roll fused with Motown's real feel. The guitars are also perfectly produced with a combination of authenticity and full of character.

The distinctive single 'Hold On' which as been flaunted around extensively by both Xfm and Radio One (Fearne' Cotton's big thing a few weeks ago) is catchy and is an outstanding track with easy going rhythms, a recogniseable guitar riff and laid back bass. The build of vocals throughout the track is fantastic with the listening inevitably ending up shouting 'WAIT!' towards the end with the singer (and most likely out of time and followed with a big neck-jerk/head bash on the drum fills).

With tracks 'You Aint Alone', 'Boys and Girls', 'I Found You', 'Be Mine', and (the brilliant interlude and rhythmically delightful) 'Goin' to the Party' with their jazz chord sequences and bluesy vocals, the band stand apart just that bit from their southern rock and roll contemporaries The Black Keys. 'I Found You' is a feel good track with uplifting wah wah guitar, passion, an excellent build up for the chorus, release for the verse, chord bashing at end on keys and is overall refreshingly familiar. 'You Aint Alone', with its 6/8 time and swung rhythms has everything there that screams at you recognition, tradition and full of roots. But the application of rock vocals and harsher than usual guitar spikes make it stand out from a-typical blues.

'Typically rock' tracks include 'Hold On', 'Heavy Chevy', 'Hang Loose' and 'On Your Way' where the fills and guitar lines remind me very much of Kings of Leon. 'Hang Loose' has a care-free guitar line that keeps the rock in the song whilst the layers build up later to include a brilliant saloon style piano part. With lines like "Don't you ever worry about a thing/Don't be your own worse enemy" it's impossible not to chill out when listening to this one. Cider. BBQ and sunshine. That's what I want when I hear this song. This also applies to 'Rise To the Sun' which is championed by the inclusion of an organ part.

I imagine the band to be spectacular live and have already pencilled them in on my top list to see at Bestival this summer. Favourite tracks off the album are; 'Hold On', 'Heavy Chevy', 'You Aint Alone, Goin' To the Party', 'On your Way' and 'Be Mine'.

Like Alabama Shakes? Try The Black Keys and Marching Donald.

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