I am not sure there has been a bigger buzz band in the past 6 months than The Alabama Shakes. The origins of this Athens, ALABAMA four piece began two years ago when Heath Fogg called on Brittany Howard to open a set for his own band. Who knows what happened to Fogg’s original band, but everyone in the buzzosphere knows what happened when Howard and Fogg recruited Steve Johnson and Zac Cockrell to create The Shakes (later to become The Alabama Shakes). They created a sound that is so old and familiar that it is totally different from what we get these days with all the electro-do-it-yourself-from-your-bedroom loopy multi-instrumental wizards. It’s a sound that harks back to 60’s motown played by a garage rock band.
So, let’s talk a little about all the buzz that this band has created. I first heard about The Alabama Shakes from Justin Gage at Aquarium Drunkard during his weekly blog radio broadcast back in July. In today’s Nashville Scene, Jewly Hight reveals that Gage learned about them from Seth Riddle (former Rough Trade staffer and current GM of Kings of Leon imprint Serpents & Snakes) when he heard them in the backyard at Groove Records in East Nashville for a Record Store Day performance back in April. Riddle says, “After they started playing I was just kind of pinching myself, because it’s really rare that you see a band that strikes that chord with you and you’ve never heard of ‘em… Usually, you’ve heard a little buzz about ‘em, and they’ve got their website up, they’ve got some digital files up. This band, they didn’t have anything. Nothing. There was nothing there. I don’t think they had a Facebook page.” Since then, The Alabama Shakes have blown up. They had to skip out on an 8 off 8th session back in October to join in on the CMJ Festival madness of New York City, where they were spotted and admired by The New York Times’ art beat writer Jon Parales. Before you know it, Patterson Hood signs them on to open for The Drive-By-Truckers tour. KEXP in Seattle caught up with them and named “Hold On” the song of the day. They have since signed with ATO Records, and they are in the initial lineup released from South By Southwest for 2012. Talk about a zero to hero year, damn.
Each generation has to relearn the music of the past. As an artist, you might hear something 20, 30, or 40 years old that inspires and molds your creative process. We’ve seen this cyclical pattern over and over again (i.e. the resurgence of surf and grunge music in the past few of years). Well, we might just be catching the first wave of the resurgence of an updated 60’s R&B. I’ve attached a player below with their self-titled EP. You can grab your own copy of “You Ain’t Alone” at the Aquarium Drunkard site, and “Hold On” is available at the KEXP site. You can also just buy the EP for $4 at their bandcamp site, or through the player below.
Things get started tonight at 8pm at Mercy Lounge, and you can grab your $10 tickets here. Don’t roll in at the crack of 10pm either, because Nashville’s Jessica Breanne & The Electric Hearts and another Alabama band Planet Ink are both pretty bad ass to have in the opening slots.
As it says in The Alabama Shakes bio (It’s in all caps there too), PREPARE YOUR EYELIDS. TAPE THEM OPEN SO YOUR EYES BELIEVE. PREPARE YOUR EAR HOLES BECAUSE WE WILL BE COMING FOR THEM BRAINS. Don’t miss this. Get out and see some live music tonight.