Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
As an audiophile, it shames me to think a band like Alabama Shakes will never receive the credit they truly deserve.
The current state of mainstream culture pays attention exclusively to artists who fetishize the past only to the extent where the masses can appreciate them. Primary example: Mumford & Sons are a band who get lauded for bringing back an Americana sound to a digital generation; when, in fact, their sound is merely a superficial interpretation. Artists influenced from nostalgia are adored due to current generation’s notion of what the yesteryear sounded like. Only a snapshot memory or a stereotype come to their minds. I bet in many youngsters’ narrow field of vision, blues music was just some African-American on a Les Paul crooning about a failed romance or the Mississippi River or some crazy shit like such.
This is what makes Alabama Shakes shine brighter. Like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Alabama Shakes comes off more spiritually invested in their genre; unlike the run-of-the-mill indie groups who receive attention merely because they sound like the ’60s or something. With a spirit and vigor thats hard to find, Alabama Shakes’ blues-garage-rock-gone-soul debut LP, “Boys & Girls,” is unquestionably the most soulful, gutsiest album of 2012.
For “Boys & Girls”, boldness comes from its simplicity. Alabama Shakes doesn’t pack their punches with dynamic instruments, compositions or musicianship. All these components serve as a canvas for the Mona Lisa to be painted. Brittany Howard is that Mona Lisa. Two parts Ella Fitz and one part James Brown, lead singer Brittany Howard is the Mona Lisa that everyone pays their tickets for. “Boys & Girls,” in its entirety, serves as a showcase for Howard’s powerhouse ability as a singer. With every track, you’re helplessly captivated by Howard’s immediate emotional delivery. Whether its the minimalist gospel-esque gem, “Hold On,” or the vindictive ‘get down on your knees and beg the lord for mercy’ post break-up song “Heartbreaker,” Alabama Shakes feel so simple on paper, but they’re far from it.
Howard’s rollicking vocal performance speaks out against the modern image of the perfect voice. Brittany Howard is not Adele, nor could she be your next American Idol; she’s better. Howard carries her scars as trophies, vocally and emotionally speaking. Her voice is the equivalent to a vintage, decades-old guitar with a gorgeously aged tone; her vocal idiosyncrasies are embraced and used to carve out her own renditions. And because of this, anything Howard will ever put out like this will be more detailed and exciting than any other vocalist who aims for the industry standard. Both on and off the mic, Howard’s individualist spirit is a inspirational force that cannot be argued against; regardless of your thoughts about their sound.
Like the cultural service Aretha Franklin provided her generation, “Boys & Girls” is the type of album that fills your soul up with goodness. She will overwhelm you, ignite waves of goosebumps and rise eyebrows all around. One can’t say it more assuredly: Alabama Shakes is a true winner.
This album was my dad. (10/10)
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