The Shakes

Alabama-shakes-boys-girls

I don’t often get recommended the same album by almost eveyone I talk to music about down here, but this was the case with Alabama Shakes. Yews, Hold On has been rinsed on 6Music, almost to the point where it wore thin, but in terms of ‘sound’, I really think there’s something glorious old fashioned about this album. I’m still getting my head around it at the moment, as it’s only come out this month, but I’m looking forward to a good discussion on this one. It’s not blown me away at first listen, but then albums I love rarely do. I’m going to need to give this a good week or two.

Sorry for the lateness this month Brothers. It’s been a bit busy of late. Hope this is worth the wait.

8 comments

  1. David Allison

    So. I’ve really come at this with an open mind – bearing in mind I wasn’t keen on the single. And I’ve given it a few goes. And….well, I’m struggling a bit.The positives: they’re an excellent band. She’s got a really distinctive voice. And the songs are good, solid numbers.So why doesn’t it float my boat? It goes back to that weird thing about originality of sound. Of course, there’s nothing that’s totally original in rock music after 60 years of it. Well, actually, that’s not true, there’s always crazy original stuff but it’s more and more on the fringes and, these days, it’s often unlistenable!But what I do always want is a spark of something new, a sense of pushing something forward. And I feel like this record is a very careful and fairly contrived attempt at a recreation of a late 60s/early 70s soul/rock crossover. And it’s a bloody good attempt, but it does leave me wondering why I would need to listen to it NOW. I know this might seem like a peculiar comparison, but I find the same thing when everyone goes on about Adele. Sure, she’s got a great voice, but jeez, so do a lot of people. The material is the same stuff that’s been around for a million years.That’s my problem here too. From the band name to the lyrics to the production, I feel like it’s trying to evoke a ‘timeless’, ‘classic’ feel. Which it does. But for me personally, it’s too trapped in the past and too reverent about its influences.Now, I’m aware that there are probably bands who can TOTALLY be accused of doing the same that I do like. Off the top of my head, Fleet Foxes come to mind – so clearly channelling Crosby, Stills & Nash and the like. Why do they float my boat when these guys don’t? Maybe I like the influences more. I dunno. Maybe it’s a more personal thing than that. Ain’t music always a bit like that? There’s clearly a lot of care and attention gone into this record and perhaps it’ll grow on me more in time. It’s certainly a pleasant listen. I’ll keep you posted.Thanks for this one, Guy, it’s an interesting conundrum of an album.

  2. misterstory

    Good writing Brother David, you should practice, one day you could do that for a living? In all seriousness I do mean that! I think you put across some interesting points. Obviously I’m too contrary to agree with them all. OK. I have struggled too. I actually like the single on the radio. I was happy when it came on … but as an album? This is probably the worst diss ever, but its fine background music. My first few listens, start to finish were in the evening, Stacey was working on something clever and PhD like, I was fannying around on-line, editing photos, possibly even working. I liked it in that environment. The true test for me is putting headphones and doing nothing other than listening. I do this most often in the morning at the weekend pushing Silvia around Trafford. I’ve gone through this album 3 times start to finish in that environment and twice in the car on long journeys …. and Im sorry to say it’s not touched the sides.I think it’s just … pastiche? I also thought, there must be bands I like that do that too. My closest comparison was the first Girls album. It was Beach Boys era US 60s pastiche … but it was done with a twist. The twist that the singer was a lunatic-fuck up (ok…. So was Brian Wilson but bear with me), love or hate it, at least it took a style and used it to get something different across. Songs about being bought up in a cult for instance. This is enough for me to drag it away from plain boring pastiche. As Brother David says, they’re a good band. She has a good voice. The album is produced well. But for me it doesn’t touch the sides.Sorry Brother Guy. This is not a personal diss as you didn’t choose an album you loved but one we could all come to fresh and I like that idea as I was nervous choosing an album 2 months ago. I am very surprised with the buzz surrounding this album. I will come back to it in months to come no doubt. It has its place, Stacey likes it. Silvia prefers Elmo’s Song. I am disappointed.

  3. Guy Hornsby

    Interesting replies. And I’d tend to feel pretty similar. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the album. It’s got a nice garagey, bluesy feel. The songs are pleasingly loose, and there’s a ‘sound’ there. But I’ve heard it all somewhere before. There’s hints of Neil Young and Crazy Horse, bits of blues in there, even bits where the soulful, wistful nature of the lead vocals make me think of Winehouse. It’s the ‘recorded in a garage’ sound that’s been so popular since the White Stripes went back to the lo-fi approach. And it’s not even wilful, as they were broke, just trying to put up an album… etc etc. But where other albums and music have leapt out, this just hasn’t really lit the spark for me. It’s growing on me, but only in a way that’s pleasing and that I’ll enjoy it, but not that in a ‘it’ll change your life’ sort of way. A lot of the evangelism that’s come my way in the last month or so from people that have recommended it to me have also come from people that have seen them live, when they are apparently pretty fantastic. There’s a good argument for that with a lot of bands. In fact, unless it’s really really experimental or very electronic, I’d be disappointed if a band wasn’t better live than recorded. So…. in short, I can see where the indifference is. My month came at the wrong time really as two albums that I was very much wanting to use didn’t come out until about now, which is basically May. But more of that to come…. Thanks for your ears. I’m going to continue for a while with this, just as I do with other new albums, but I don’t think the’yre going to appear in my ‘best of 2012’ list. Anyway, it’s good to have some disagreement. Or actually, agreement on music that doesn’t really float our boat. God knows there’s enough amazing stuff on here as it is.

  4. Nolan Kane

    I’ve really tried my best with this one. I have really struggled to understand what I’m missing with this. To be honest I don’t think I’m missing anything. As background music at a party it would be great. I listen to allot of music alone in my car. With this album I found my mind wondering but not in a good way. I can’t think off the top of my head any lyrics or songs that really stand out. The issue I have with Alabama Shakes is much the same as has been mentioned. They are using an old formula but not making it theirs. There is an argument that we are all getting a bit snobby here but history would argue that. Look at the album that Joey picked. It had massive influences that really stood out, but the artist put his own twist on it. Sadly I don’t think Alabama Shakes did. If you want a commercial intro to Hilly Billy rock then this may be a good step, but for me it just didn’t meet expectations. I think this was good in the regard that none of of had heard it before whilst the other 3 monthly albums have been ones that have been owned and sent out with some passion. I also think it’s great that we’re all on the same tip about this as I was feeling bad that I’d missed something with this. Turns out it’s just missing something.

  5. David Allison

    Interesting consensus we’re having. There’s just something missing, isn’t there?Hey, is it my go for May? YIKES. Better get a’thinkin’

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