There is no doubt that we love Alabama Shakes here at The Revue. Pretty much all of us were captivated from the very first time we heard them, and they’ve organically grown into a powerhouse of a band despite just one full-length under their belt. We love them so much that we included them as one of our headliners at our made up music festival, The RevueFest (it’ll happen one day!).
With their official second full length being released next week, does Sound & Color surpass 2012’s Boys & Girls? We Take a Listen and share our First Impressions.
If you can’t wait until next Tuesday, the album is streaming over at NPR. The videos for “Don’t Wanna Fight” and “Gimme All Your Love” are also below. Pre-order the album at ATO Records, iTunes, and Amazon.
When Alabama Shakes first came on the scene, I just perceived them as a breath of fresh, gritty, rockin’ air. There was no pretense, no image they were trying to portray, except just making and performing awesome blues filled soulful rock. With well deserved exposure, and 3 Grammy nominations (I feel they should have won at least one), this band is going to plant itself firmly in the rock world for some time to come. With all that being said and how great Boys & Girls ended up being – the pressure is on. With a sophomore release and already proven success, will it live up to the hype?
After three spins, I resoundingly say yes, and they might have even surpassed the hype. As with Michael and Rich of course there is that Stones vibe and heavy 60s & 70s rock you can’t deny – but for me it’s just Alabama Shakes who have obviously taken influences from a myriad of different places and made it their own (yes, including an MMJ influence – most heard on the track “Shoegaze”). With Ms. Howard’s commanding voice, their style of heart pounding grit rock, this album is pretty awesome. My favorite tracks are the stand out “Gimme All Your Love” and “Don’t Wanna Fight”, along with “The Greatest” which is 3:49 of greatness. The closer “Over My Head” is a great showcase of Ms. Howards unique and soulful voice as she speaks of that relationship where you might be in too deep. Huge thumbs up for me on Sound & Color, my next mission is to see this band live.
I still remember the first time I heard “Hold On” and was immediately smitten with Brittany Howard’s amazing voice. I could not wait for their first album – Boys & Girls. When it finally arrived I thought it was an absolutely fantastic debut album full of grit and unbridled energy. The band quickly grew in popularity and exploded on the festival scene. Ms. Howard and the band were equally enthralling live, commanding the stage like few artists are able to do. I began to worry about over exposure and if they would be able to match their success with subsequent releases. As time passed without new material I started to get more worried.
I had no reason to worry. Sound & Color continues the raw feel of the debut but improves on it in almost every way. There is more edge, more originality, and more risk on this one. Yes, it is still a southern blues rock album with heavy 60s & 70s rock vibe but it also has a contemporary feel going on. Several of the writers here were brought together for our mutual love of My Morning Jacket and I have to believe they were an influence on this album. Early singles like “Don’t Wanna Fight” and “Gimme All Your Love” are clear highs, but there is tremendous depth with tracks like “Shoegaze” and “Future People”. I adore this album and this band and give this a huge thumbs up!!!
When Alabama Shakes came on the scene three years ago, what gravitated me towards them was their rawness. Their music was timeless, echoing back to times when a guitar, bass, and drums combined with fabulous songwriting were sufficient to create inspiring and breathtaking songs. The band could have stayed the course with Sound & Color, but thankfully they did not because on their new album they’ve added a bit of an edge and it is even rawer than the first. Many advanced reviews and articles on the album constantly mention ’60s and ’70s era Rolling Stones heard on the album, and that definitely comes out. But another band whose fingerprints are on this album is My Morning Jacket. I’m not saying this as a huge MMJ fan, but the time Alabama Shakes, in particular frontwoman Ms. Brittany Howard, spent with the band in 2013 and 2014 has rubbed off. You can hear it in the fantastic “Don’t Wanna Fight” and “Shoegaze”.
Of course, there are multiple influences as the album is expansive in the genres that are covered. The window-shattering “Gimme Me All Your Love” might be the best track on the album and one of the best of the year with its ’60s blues-rock vibe. “This Feeling” and “Guess Who” give me chills, as I can hear Ms. Howard channeling Etta James on these soulful, blues tracks. But what really makes the album sparkle is that, as hinted by the record’s title, it spans genres and breaks down barriers. It’s an album that pays homage to blues, soul, classic rock, and indie rock. Sound & Color feels timeless, even more so than Boys & Girls. It’s not an album for any particular group of people; it’s an album made for everyone. It’s an album that is an instant classic.
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