Monday, April 23, 2012

The Real Deal.

Alabama Shakes

Those of you who know me well, know that one of my all-time biggest and wildest dreams is to take a long roadtrip through the deep American south and onwards, so that I can really witness the early to mid-twentieth century birthplace of the blues. The real stuff. The real people. The real sounds. In a car for weeks, in the bars, clubs and museums - right in the history of it all.

This is a band that would play a huge role in that trip, whenever it finally does happen. I'll say this right now and with every bit of honesty - if you haven't heard them yet, you are currently in the midst of missing out on something revolutionary.

Alabama Shakes, one of the greatest things to happen to American blues-rock in decades, is going to take over the world just about any minute now. Formed in Athens, Alabama, this group of four is already (and inconspicuously) bringing back a kind of Americana soul-rock that the late, great Janis Joplin and Otis Redding heaved onto the scene years ago - adding chugging guitars riffs, lead Brittany Howard's nearly unprecedented vocals and aching blues melodies to their classic rock framework. Everything about this group boasts an unusual type of modesty; their anti-rock star personas, age-old friendships and effortlessly genius instrumental ability amount to a scorching soulfulness that's more appealing, and more unbelievable, with each listen.

Hearing revivalist songs like this - forlorn, raw and caked in passion - make you question exactly what it is that's in the water down there. Something, whether nurtured into these bluesy pals from a young age or divinely doused onto them during a hot Southern summer heatwave, has brought forward American blues-rock geniuses out of the balmy Southern states for countless eras past - and I'm not sure exactly how they so naturally preach musical emotion like this. And although the music world is an ever-changing, multi-faceted place, it doesn't happen every day that a Howard or Joplin decide to emerge from the woodwork and croon their magic for us - even though I know voices like theirs most likely decorate all sorts of Southern local haunts, without ever gracing an airwave.

So, I'll leave you with this track of Alabama Shakes' and say that the first time I heard this, I had never wanted to take my road trip more. If it means getting to the bottom of this sound - the swaying gospel turned searing blues explosion that seems as second nature as waking up for these folks - I think I would be musically complete.

For more of Alabama Shakes, listen to their full album Boys & Girls.


  1. Hey wifey, methinks Derek Trucks is "the greatest thing to happen to American blues-rock in decades." But I guess that's why we're so compatible. Opposites attract!

  2. A great point, hubby. ONE of the greatest things, of course!