Alabama Shakes formed in 2009 in Athens, Alabama, with Brittany Howard on lead vocals and guitar; Zac Cockrell on bass guitar; Heath Fogg on guitar and backing vocals; and Steve Johnson on drums, percussion, backing vocals. Their offbeat, highly idiosyncratic sound draws from blues, rhythm and blues, roots revival and, surprisingly, heavy metal bands like Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. But what drew me to their music was the crazy, raw and beautifully strange voice of Brittany Howard. Able to warp it rough and gritty, throw in shocking highs and lows, twist her phrasing into pretzels and come back to hit you in the gut again, Ms. Howard gives “distinctive” new meaning. And while their sample size is fairly small, at two albums, they don’t appear to be in the mood to ever produce the same old same old.
This is a band to keep one’s eyes and ears on for the foreseeable and very bright future.