Posted in music | tour dates on December 10, 2011

Alabama Shakes

Extremely talented Athens, Alabama modern soul and rock band Alabama Shakes seemed to come out of nowhwere. It was less than two months ago that the young band came to NYC to play a few random CMJ shows and then announced they would return to NYC to play an early show at Mercury Lounge. That show, which was last night (12/9), didn't even sell out that quickly, though it did eventually sell out in advance which prompted the addition of a much larger Thursday night (12/8) Brooklyn Bowl show which nobody could believe ALSO SOLD OUT IN ADVANCE. Chicago and LA shows are also sold out.

Next time the overnight success comes back to NYC will probably be with headlining shows at Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg, so if you're curious at all, you may want to check their just-announced gig at Lakeside Lounge in NYC tonight (12/10).

Though I'm probably never going to personally throw on an Alabama Shakes record, I was curious enough to go see them at Brooklyn Bowl and I was definitely blown away by the talent and smiles on stage, and the seemingly pure place it came from, especially from frontwoman Brittany Howard...

"This is what the saga of a breaking band can look like in the age of the constantly plugged-in, accelerated news cycle. In the case of The Alabama Shakes, there really is something beneath the hype that people are viscerally responding to. Aquarium Drunkard called it "a slice of the real" -- as opposed to stuff that's "fake" and "pre-packaged." NPR music critic Ann Powers noted the pre-packaging inherent in retro soul, but pointed to Howard's artistic self-determination, describing the 22-year-old singer as "a young woman living in the now, wrapping her arms around a tradition without letting it carry her away." New York Times music critic Jon Pareles celebrated the contrast between The Shakes and the typical CMJ buzz band -- one that's "built around some cool-headed concept involving noise or irony or ambiguities or primitivism." [Nashville Scene]
Listen to the EP at Bandcamp. More tour dates below...

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Alabama Shakes -- 2011 Tour Dates
Dec 10 Lakeside Lounge New York, NY
Dec 13 The MOTR Pub Cincinnati, OH
Dec 14 Radio Radio Indianapolis, IN
Dec 15 The Hideout Chicago, IL
Dec 17 S.P.A.C.E. Evanston, IL
Dec 18 Old Rock House St Louis, MO
Dec 29 Orange Peel Social Aid & Pleasure Club Asheville, NC
Dec 31 9:30 Club Washington, DC
Jan 13 40 Watt Athens, GA
Jan 19 One Eyed Jacks New Orleans, LA
Jan 20 Continental Club Houston, TX
Jan 21 Continental Club Austin, TX
Jan 24 Belly Up Solana Beach, CA
Jan 25 Troubadour w/ Dry The River Los Angeles, CA
Jan 26 Independent w/ Dry The River San Francisco, CA
Jan 28 Doug Fir Portland, OR
Jan 29 Media Club Vancouver, Canada
Jan 31 Crocodile Club Seattle, WA
Feb 02 The State Room Salt Lake City, UT
Feb 04 Fox Theater Boulder, CO
Feb 22 Boston Arms London, United Kingdom Sold Out
Feb 23 Boston Arms London, United Kingdom
Feb 24 Boston Arms London, United Kingdom

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Comments (101)

pretty incredible voice.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 3:00 PM

I was there last night. They nailed it. See them now.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 3:03 PM

"modern soul and rock band"

nope.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 3:25 PM

Yup.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 3:31 PM

Or go see Turf War at the Bell House

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 3:42 PM

how

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 3:43 PM

I've seen them four times--twice in Tuscaloosa, AL, twice in New York. They really are incredibly talented, energetic, and they are very happy to be playing for their audience. They aren't a retro act.

Posted by Brian | December 10, 2011 3:46 PM

They did an absolute KILLER version of Led Zep's "How Many More Times" last night. Blown away.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 4:40 PM

I love how hipsters on this site get riled up when a band with good ol' fashion talent gets bigger than their shitty synth/laptop/muse-wannabe band.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 5:08 PM

if you come to new york to play few cmj shows, what exactly is RANDOM about that?
found yourselves a new word to shove into every sentence, regardless of its meaning?

Posted by ME | December 10, 2011 5:13 PM

If the current crop of bands weren't so awful we wouldn't have to get all excited about nostalgia acts.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 5:49 PM

Yet another example of looks trumping talent. Where are the real musicians?

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 5:49 PM

this is music for vassar alumni...enjoy it dorks.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 5:55 PM

5:55, this is music for people with taste in music. Suck it.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 6:21 PM

One thing I hate about hipsters... can't they just like a straightforward band that is talented and powerful vocally, has great musicianship, and great songwriting?

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 6:28 PM

How many "phenomenons" play Lakeside Lounge?

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 7:16 PM

Biggest gimmick band of 2011, hands down.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 7:17 PM

I remember when Vampire weeknend was a "pehnenon" too and look where that got them lol

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 7:21 PM

7:17 What's the gimmick? A woman who can actually sing? A band that can actually play instruments well? That's a gimmick?

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 7:30 PM

the new sharon dap jones

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 7:33 PM

7:33, she's nothing like Sharon Jones. The music is not straight up retro. It has retro influences, but they are generally a straight-forward bluesy rock band.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 7:36 PM

I feel like I'm in bizarro world... people who actually can sing and play instruments are considered a novelty act by hipsters.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 7:42 PM

I think they sound good. New to the sight though. What do people mean by hipster?

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 8:07 PM

this is surprisingly good. great voice. i don't understand the hate. i guess when you have talent hate is always there. so i guess keep hating because she does have a strong voice.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 8:10 PM

I love how, again, BV throws in his disclaimer to maintain his hipster cred "Though I'm probably never going to personally throw on an Alabama Shakes record..."

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 8:37 PM

Wow didn't take long for this band to compromise themselves in order to sell more tickets/records

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 9:24 PM

alabama shakes = modern weepers

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 9:37 PM

This is Sharon Jones all over again.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 9:53 PM

9:53. No it isn't. Listen to it for more than 5 seconds, you tool.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 10:36 PM

9:24 - How exactly did they compromise themselves to sell tickets? By being at CMJ? For having a buzz?

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2011 10:37 PM

they are the next foster the people

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 12:24 AM

8:37, bv's "hipster cred" is long gone. Haven't you read this site over the last year or so?

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 12:30 AM

Riggins is all that matters

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 3:37 AM

Another gimmick black singer hired by white band just in time to sell albums for Christmas. Classic. Miss real music.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 4:17 AM

Aint no hummus in Alabama

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 6:11 AM

4:17, are you really that miserable of a human being? Listen to the music before you pass judgement, rather than just see a photo and half-read the post and make a stupid comment.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 7:14 AM

one of the most enjoyable hours of music I have heard this year

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 10:18 AM

Hipsters just mad this band is bigger than their shitty synth/laptop/muse-wannabe band.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 12:36 PM

They're not on Pitchfork, so therefore they're not cool.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 12:47 PM

10:37, maybe the compromise 9:24 is referring to is the Zales advertisement?
Although I'm not sure why that is a compromise for a blues/soul/rock type band. This isn't Fugazi we are talking about here.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 2:42 PM

i bet the same people that dismiss this band as a gimmick worship bands like wavves and best coast. figures.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 3:02 PM

I suppose she's a good singer but it's so friggin' affected-sounded I can't listen to it.

Posted by jdk | December 11, 2011 3:36 PM

soundING. yeesh

Posted by jdk | December 11, 2011 3:46 PM

scary stuff when a band can compose, perform and deliver true soul. This kind of thing is beyond the fixie bike's experience. It's rough when you've been brainwashed to believe the dude on coke playin' with a casio is making music.

Patty Hearst should step in and help generation Y break free.

Posted by HappyParts | December 11, 2011 3:48 PM

It's not the best music but seriously, how can people call this derivative when literally 99% of indie rock bands are derivative of each other or stuff that was mainstream 10+ years ago?

The entire point of playing soul, country, folk, blues, etc is about the composition, songwriting, playing, etc, not about making some new sound.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 4:12 PM

A little sick of these readymade "Bennetton" bands. Making music involves more than finding multicultural people to play instruments with average talent at best. I guess it gets them press but it leads to dirivitive music.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 4:46 PM

this is a really weird post

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 5:01 PM

Didn't realize that there were racist hipsters. Guess you learn something new every day.

Posted by Jackpot | December 11, 2011 7:22 PM

It's not racist to acknowledge that, at this point in time, plugging a black singer into a white band is a sure fire recipe for success. It's "good business" more than "good music." Economics and sociology 101, 7:22.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 7:51 PM

They made in high school. I suggest you take Google 101.

Posted by Jackpot | December 11, 2011 8:28 PM

Well, that lost its force. "Met."

Posted by Jackpot | December 11, 2011 8:29 PM

90% of these comments are coming from 1 person.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2011 10:28 PM

2:42, I actually don't mind that they licensed music to Zales. If this were 20 years ago, I'd think differently. But times have changed. Radio and MTV don't matter any more. If you want to get your music heard and build your audience, TV commercials are one of the best ways to do so. Moby realized this 10 years ago, when no one was playing his "Play" album. So he licensed the shit out of it, and then it went through the roof. Now iTunes commercials are tastemaking vehicles for musicians.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 2:40 AM

Actually the Moby album was 12 years ago, but you get my drift.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 2:42 AM

7:51, but it is racist to assume that a black woman could not have natually become friends with a group of white musicians and started a band with them, organically.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 2:44 AM

4:46 - Learn to spell. The word is "derivative". By the way, all music is derivative.
I saw Alabama Shakes on Friday night, and let me tell you... if they were not genuine, they sure as hell seemed it. No irony. No trying hard to sound cool. They just were. Talented.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 7:33 AM

BTW, nothing is more derivative than your beloved LCD Soundsystem, who wouldn't exist if it weren't for 80's new wave synth bands.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 7:46 AM

The difference is, that this band derives it's music from actual GOOD music.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 8:06 AM

Hm... Lots of hate, but then again this is the internet and this is BrooklynVegan, one of many blogs where hate festers.

Made me wonder though.. is there ever going to be a band like The Clash again? Just 100% pure explosion of meaning and talent and ultra musicality. I mean, christ, they got their share of hate too, every good band does.. but yeah. makes me wonder.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 11:37 AM

This is the internet?? Holy shit!! When'd that get invented??

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 11:54 AM

HONEST OPINION ON ALABAMA SHAKES

they are good. the lead singer has an indubitably incredible voice. BUT their music sounds recycled! sounds like it came straight from the 1940's/1950's blues/soul movement. so in that sense, it is not exciting. it's like a good blues revival band, but it still sounds old and recycled. i bet a lot of white people in their 60s will like this music.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 11:54 AM

you say that's honest, but it's a ridiculous opinion, in my opinion. opinions opinions opinions.

the majority of music is recycled though, that's where your 'opinion' went to shit in my eyes. even the greatest records are recycled ideas and sounds, whether you realize it or not. to judge a band on that front is ridiculous.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 12:20 PM

11:54

joke doesn't work, as i never implied that the internet's existence was an unknown, rather just reiterating how hateful people become on it, how their hate just multiplies when they're reading and typing on a computer. you know how it goes.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 12:23 PM

12:20 no, actually that's not ridiculous at all. And your argument that 'the majority of music is recycled" is not a good basis for a counterpoint to what 11:54 is saying.

The majority of music is recycled? True. The majority of music is shit? Also true. The vast majority of recycled music is shit? Definitely true.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 12:36 PM

@1220 is blatantly the same person trolling this post in defense of Alabama Shakes. too easy to tell. every defensive post is written by him/her.

@1154 is right, this sounds like nostalgia music. it's good; i listen to it for the same reason i listen to Etta James. except Etta is actually from the era that Alabama Shakes are acting like they're from; it is what it is.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 12:38 PM

This is 1154. The point I was trying to make is if you put on an Alabama Shakes song and asked someone what year they thought the song was recorded, EVERYONE would say a date before the 1970s. Because the sound is OLD. That is not a point of argument, that is a fact. It is the genre/style of their music.

They are very good at performing that genre of music, but the music is not groundbreaking. In order for this music to "break ground," it would have to be doing something that prior artists of the genre have never done. That is clearly not the case.

And, IF THIS IS THE CASE, please tell me what these artists are doing that has not been done countless times before by similar genre artists. And don't mention that they have a caucasian band, doesn't count.

Posted by 11:54 | December 12, 2011 12:41 PM

1220 greatest records aren't recycled ideas/sounds. they are past ideas/sounds that have been artistically crafted together to create something NEW and UNIQUE. statement cannot be applied here. music is nice and ornate; still nothing new.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 12:44 PM

It's fun seeing people get BV-raped. (Looking at you 12:20)

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 12:47 PM

The Beatles weren't original either. Their early music was recycled from 50's rock n'roll. Their later trippy material was either based on psychedelia stuff other bands were doing at the time or show tunesy stuff (When I'm Sixty-Four, Martha My Dear, etc).
Not that I'm comparing Alabama Shakes to the Beatles by anyyyyy stretch. But my point is that a band can be great, and still not necessarily ground-breaking.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 1:01 PM

so you're saying the Beatles weren't groundbreaking? that's your counterpoint? go home.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 1:08 PM

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 1:48 PM

To add to that, there's no doubting the Beatles' place in history. They were great on many levels (songwriting, performing, charisma, popularity). But they were not ground-breaking. They may have been ground-breaking to people who hadn't heard the music who they were influenced by... They introduced the masses to sounds that people who are only familiar with popular music wouldn't have heard, but they were not original.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 1:53 PM

Trying to make the case that the Beatles were not groundbreaking is not only pointless, but it is embarrassing on your part.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 2:12 PM


You are truly an idiot, 1:53. Just about everything you write in that comment is utter horseshit.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 2:15 PM

yea 1:53, give up. sad to read. makes me depressed to imagine what happens in your brain on a daily basis.

you go enjoy your alabama shakes, i'll enjoy my "not-groundbreaking" beatles albums, and we'll call it a day.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 2:23 PM

Wow, I struck a nerve! I love doing that, hehe. I insulted Beatles fans by merely suggesting that their music was, despite being amazing, still not original. It wasn't. I stand by my statement. Everything in music comes from something else. Some artists are more obvious about it than others...
How about, I'll enjoy both my non-groundbreaking Beatles and my non-groundbreaking Alabama Shakes music.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 2:40 PM

you can insult the Beatles all you want, you'll come across as an idiot by anyone with a brain. doing us a favor, really

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 2:53 PM

The problem is, that I didn't insult them. I merely stated a fact. Amazing band on many levels. But not original. Everything, including your beloved Beatles, is derivative.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 2:56 PM

hehe more please

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 3:00 PM

2:15 - Just about everything I'm saying is horsesh!t? So you don't agree with the part where I say that the Beatles were amazing on many levels? Or you don't agree with the part where I say that they introduced the masses to sounds that people who are only familiar with popular music wouldn't have heard?

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 3:13 PM

You must have been beat up a lot in high school.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 3:29 PM

"The problem is, that I didn't insult them. I merely stated a fact. Amazing band on many levels. But not original. Everything, including your beloved Beatles, is derivative."

Everything is derivative. Including your beloved hummus.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 3:34 PM

ya everything is derivative except the alabama shakes. and the music that 1:53/3:13 makes in his mom's basement with his sitar. word

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 3:35 PM

The Beatles were completely original, because the Everly Brothers never existed.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 3:44 PM

I'd rather be the dissenting voice and get crap for it, then go along with the sheep. My only fault is bringing up an intellectual argument that goes against widely held beliefs on a blog where people are amused by hummus jokes.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 3:45 PM

^ shut you up, didn't he

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 3:56 PM

Your brilliance is just pearls before swine, 3:45.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 3:57 PM

3:45 I know that you think this is one of those times when you're right and everyone else is wrong, but it really isn't. I'm sorry.

Most of the people arguing with you haven't been making hummus jokes, but rather jokes about your existence as a person who cites the ability to critique music while simultaneously not regarding the Beatles as a groundbreaking band.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 4:12 PM

But that's the beauty of criticism, 4:12. It's based on point of view. As I mentioned above, they may seem groundbreaking to folks who had never heard the artists they were influenced by, but the reality is that they did not pull their musical ideas from a vacuum. There would not be a Sgt.Peppers if it weren't for Pet Sounds. That's a fact.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 4:22 PM

We get it. You're saying the Beach Boys are to the Beatles as what every pre-70s soul/blues group is to the Alabama Shakes. We're saying that is incorrect. What the Beatles did with their source material surpasses beyond fucking words what Alabama Shakes have done with theirs.


It's also very different when bands of the same era are influencing one another ala the Beatles and their influences. The problem with Alabama Shakes is that all of their stylistic influences are extremely dated, and thus their music comes off as dated as well.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 4:27 PM

@422 and @427 we're also talking about the beatles.

i dont care who they were inspired by; tell me the inspiration for 'hey jude' or 'tax man' and i'll show you how the beatles song is an improvement upon that musical inspiration. the same cannot be said for the band mentioned in this post.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 4:29 PM

4:22 The fact that you are even mentioning the Beatles and this band in the same argument, let alone paragraph/sentence, should force you to reconsider your opinion. In the words of the Vulcans, your logic has been compromised by your emotions.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 4:33 PM

Again.. the only thing I'm stating is that no music comes from a vacuum, including the Beatles. They may have taken something from someone else and made it better (i.e. a sad song, heh); I agree with that. Whether or not Alabama Shakes made an idea created by Janis Joplin or Aretha better than the original is irrelevant to my point (of course the original is better in that case...).
But my point.. everything is derviative.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 5:14 PM

4:27, as for the sound being dated, that's what makes the resurgence of 60's soul so great. It's so dated that it sounds fresh. That style never sucked; but R&B just evolved into something else so far removed from where it came. Today's R&B has become commercialized crap, where your ability to dance is more important than the actual song (ahem Chris Brown, Usher). It's great to hear music with real instruments, and vocals with real passion again (instead of over-singing/warbling). I say bring it back.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 5:27 PM

if you want good r&b, listen to "house of balloons" by THE WEEKND

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 6:20 PM

6:11 really nailed it

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 7:06 PM

Listened to it. Unremarkable. I've heard at least 20 other OK bar bands in my life that have mined this territory to death. To even mention the Beatles in the same post is ridiculous. We get it, you like this. Doesn't make it good. And shame on you Troll-baiters, picking on the earnest guy... don't you have anything better to do?

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 7:34 PM

12:20 here (and theres no double posting 12:38)

12:41 and 12:44, point taken and i agree with that. Its undeniable really. Thanks for making the distinction clear. When i said all music is recycled, i did mean even the great records and bands (like the person who mentioned the beatles meant. Im sure he didnt mean to start shit though haha). I guess my point is that it isnt bad JUST because it is recycled but not 'groundbreaking' .

And 12:47, i can admit when im wrong and do so always always, except it was just a misunderstanding. I essentially agree with them on a general level. Hardly 'rape' haha

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2011 7:37 PM

Four months to go from this http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2011/12/new_phenomenon.html to full page ad on BV.

Posted by Anonymous | April 2, 2012 11:31 PM

That was fun. Nice play.

Posted by lhaizza | December 20, 2012 1:06 AM

it is incredible.

Posted by jordon | August 10, 2013 3:14 PM

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