Friday, February 27, 2015

The Second Coming of Janis

Alabama Shakes
Boys and Girls
ATO, 2012
produced by Andrija Tokic

Brittany Howard - vocals, guitar, piano
Zac Cockrell - bass, guitar
Heath Fogg - guitar
Steve Johnson - drums

  • Hold On
  • I ain't the Same
  • Hang Loose
This is probably the best record of 2012 that no one talks about. There is so much nostalgia concerning the music period between 1965 and 1975. Everyone loves the Beatles, and the Stones, and Led Zeppelin, and Hendrix.  I feel there isn't quite as much fanfare for a new contemporary band that plays in similar styles while keeping their sound fresh and distinct. This makes no sense.

Alabama Shakes debuted in 2012 with their hit song Hold On. They are from Alabama, but I won't hold that against them. Their soul/blues/rock fusion sound is a throwback to the era when Hendrix and James Brown were kings, and it seemed that every big rock band was influenced by the blues. They totally deserve more coverage than they receive, and certainly more recognition than just an award for album packaging (ridiculous).  

There is a renewed push for women's rights and healthy body image, and it surprises me that Brittany Howard, fronting Alabama Shakes, hasn't become beloved of feminists everywhere. Her voice is amazing, and she doesn't necessarily fit into the pop/diva ideal.  But who cares, she's awesome.  

The similarities between Howard and hippie icon Janis Joplin have been made before. However, I feel this comparison may not be the best, and might actually be a little insulting. Joplin was a great talent, but she borrowed her style from singers like Etta James, Big Mama Thornton (also from Alabama), and Bessie Smith. I'm not going to discuss race here, but you can arrive at your own conclusions. If we are going to compare Brittany Howard to Janis Joplin, it would only be fair to also include these other women first.

No comments:

Post a Comment