If you’ve haven’t heard of Alabama Shakes, a rock and soul four-piece from (you guessed it) Alabama, then you’ve probably been living under a rock for the last few months.
First tipped by US blogger Bob Lefsetz all the way back to Christmas eve last year, the band made a huge splash at SXSW this year and used the conference as a launching pad for their debut album ‘Boys & Girls’.
“South By Southwest was crazy,” frontwoman Brittany Howard explained to News Limited. “We had to take care of each other. I had to do a lot of singing in a short time. The guys took it easy on me and didn’t play too loud. But we did it.”
“We played at a place called Easy Tiger. It had been super hot and we set up on the strangest stage in a sweat booth made of plastic,” she adds. “We finished that show and our manager jumped on stage and started screaming, ‘You did it! YOU DID IT!’ Nobody knew who this guy was on stage.”
And did it they did, playing on average three performances a day and making themselves the talk of the town. But other than their work ethic, what was it about Alabama Shakes that has allowed them to cut through the noise so effectively?
“Who wouldn’t love a rock band fronted by an overweight black woman?” wrote Lefsetz last year referring to Howard. “It rings true in an era of overhyped, overmassaged, oversurgeried TV music stars who are no different from the citizens in “Wall-E”, fat on the past and unwilling to take a risk in the future.”
“It’s easy to prop something up. But everything gets shot down. The only thing that survives in the Internet era is excellence. So we have a lot of people shoveling shit. And then when something great comes along, it’s undeniable, both in artistry and success.”
Lefsetz was hopeful for Alabama Shakes but was quick to point out that these days blogs and social media are too quick to jump and ‘over-hype’ an artist, pushing them into the spotlight before they’d truly had time to develop themselves.
And sure, Alabama Shakes ran the risk of falling into the same trap as Lana Del Rey. Sure she shipped records, but the memory of the beginning of her rise to stardom is forever tainted by those who pushed her too quickly into the limelight.
But unlike Del Rey, Alabama Shakes have been able to back up the hype with a blistering live show that has wowed critics around the world.
“There’s no secret to my voice. I just shout,” Howard humbly explains, but is about more than that. Alabama Shakes actually have talent, which is a breath of fresh air when, well as Lefsetz put it – a lot of people are shovelling shit.
The intrigue and excitement surrounding the band has catapulted their debut LP up the charts in the United States and United Kingdom, where it peaked #8 and #3 respectively. And it’s not only members of the public that are excited, other musicians have eagerly signed up to the fan club.
“There’s something about the spirit of this band that makes me want to drop everything and hitchhike across the country on a train with a guitar and a bottle of whiskey,” commented Foster The People’s Mark Foster when asked about the band.
The Vaccine’s Justin Young agreed, adding, “It’s just raw power….You don’t need gimmicks, good songs are enough.”
So when will Australians get a taste of one of the hottest bands in the world? Sooner than you may think.
“We’re thinking January,” said Howard. Big Day Out? “Um. That’s the only Australian festival I know. Don’t start any rumours though.”
Sorry Brittany. Consider this rumour started.
Share This Article
Like Tone Deaf On Facebook
Aussie Music News, Daily To Your Inbox
Get the latest music news, opinion, interviews, freebies, tracks, videos and more delivered straight to your inbox at lunchtime every weekday.