For a few months now Alabama Shakes have been on the cusp of a breaking through from the music blogs to the music charts - in fact, their debut album Boys & Girls has debuted at #13 in the Irish charts this week - but are the hot n' heavy southern rock sounds of the group the real deal? Well, the jury is still out on that one.
The ace that Alabama Shakes have up their sleeve is the outstanding vocals of band leader Brittany Howard, whose vocals seem capable of resurrecting Janis at a moment's notice, albeit with a watered-down emotional resonance. This isn't because of any fault in her vocals (quite the opposite, in fact) but the majority of the tracks, while maintaining a balance of verve and charm throughout, don't quite posses an identity outside of a somewhat generic 70's rock n' roll sound. For example, the album's best song 'Hold On' is a virtual retreading of CCR's 'Down on the Corner'.
As debut albums go Boys & Girls is a solid one and it's also worthy of note that the band have generated significant buzz for an album which is far removed from the accepted norms of the pop charts. That said, let's just hope they don't verge too close to the middle-of-the-road Kings of Leon territory.