Music Review: Alabama Shakes measure up to the hype

Alabama Shakes, “Boys & Girls” (ATO)

Alabama Shakes have gotten a lot of hype over the last year, driven mostly by its live show and YouTube presence. Sweeping the United States and Europe on a mostly sold-out tour and teasing new fans with the much-played lead single “Hold On,” the quartet has a lot of advance praise to live up to with debut album “Boys & Girls.”

Thankfully, the Athens, Ala., rock band delivers. It helps that the album kicks off with “Hold On,” which features the same bluesy Southern drawl that helped make Kings of Leon a multi-platinum success. Except in this case, the powerful vocals come from Brittany Howard, the band’s frontwoman.

On “Hang Loose” the band couples the optimistic lyrics “We’re all right/We’re gonna be all right” with a riff that has a bluegrass feel. And “Goin’ to the Party” is stripped down to a simple guitar tune. Paired with Howard’s voice, it conjures up images of a party on a hot summer day.

“Heartbreaker”’ turns the tone of the album to a soulful lament. Showing she can use her voice to convey any emotion, Howard angrily moans, “How was I supposed to know you was a heartbreaker?”

Luckily for the listener the mood lifts once again for the album’s conclusion with the crashing percussion on “I Ain’t The Same” and the rocky guitar on “On your Way.”

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: “Hold On” is still the standout track. Howard shows her range, from whispering to screeching, in three minutes of musical genius.

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