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Music Review: Alabama Shakes measure up to the hype

Music Review: Alabama Shakes measure up to the hype

Alabama Shakes, "Boys & Girls" (ATO)

April 11th, 2012 by SIAN WATSON, Associated Press in News

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.