Alabama Shakes

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Alabama Shakes
Alabama Shakes at the Mercedes Benz Evolution Tour.jpg
Alabama Shakes performing in Santa Monica in 2014
Background information
Origin Athens, Alabama, United States
Genres Roots rock, Southern rock, blues rock, soul, garage rock
Years active 2009 (2009)–present
Labels ATO
Website Official site
Members

Alabama Shakes is an American rock band formed in Athens, Alabama in 2009. The band currently consists of lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard, guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, keyboard player Ben Tanner, and drummer Steve Johnson. The group rose to prominence from virtual obscurity in the early 2010s with their distinctive and soulful roots rock sound.

The band began their career touring and performing at bars and clubs around the Southeast for two years while honing their sound and writing music. They recorded their debut album, Boys & Girls, themselves in Nashville, while still unsigned. Online acclaim led ATO Records to sign the band, which released Boys & Girls in 2012 to acclaim. The album had a hit single, "Hold On", and was nominated for three Grammy Awards. After a long touring cycle, the band recorded their sophomore record, Sound & Color, which was released in 2015 and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.

History[edit]

Formation and early years (2009–11)[edit]

The Shakes were formed in Athens, Alabama in 2009. Howard grew up interested in music, filling notebooks with lyrics and teaching herself to play drums, bass, and guitar.[1] Howard met upperclassman Heath Fogg in junior high, when he played guitar at house parties.[1] She met classmate and bassist Zac Cockrell in a psychology class some time later, and they soon began to spend time listening to their favorite music together and writing their own.[2] After graduation, Howard made her former great-grandparents' home a host for twice-weekly jam sessions. Drummer Steve Johnson, who had heard Howard singing at a party years prior, began attending the jam sessions at the suggestion of Cockrell.[3] They began making music together, recording homemade demos,[3] in lieu of having not much else to do in the small town.[1]

The group made its live debut in May 2009.[3] Fogg, by this point a guitarist in the Tuscaloosa-based Tuco's Pistol, invited the group to open for his band at Brick Deli & Tavern in Decatur.[2] The band was nervous to perform for an audience, as they felt "vulnerable." Their set included covers of Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Otis Redding, and AC/DC.[3] The show went over well, and Fogg soon joined the group.[1] All worked menial jobs—Howard as a fry cook and then a postal worker, Johnson at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant, Cockrell at an animal clinic, and Fogg painting houses.[4] For much of their early years, the Shakes performed shows on weekends, at "sports bars and country dives."[5] During this time, they began recording their debut album at Tokic's Bomb Shelter—the home of producer Andrija Tokic—in Nashville, financially supporting the recordings themselves.[1] They had previously searched through other studios, and picked Tokic's as they record mostly live to tape, as they believed it would spur a livelier performance. The band would complete arrangements in their hometown and drive an hour and a half north to Nashville to record in intervals over the course of 2011.[6]

Their first breakthrough came when Justin Gage, a Los Angeles music blogger and SiriusXM host, found a photo of Howard performing online. After contacting the band, he posted an MP3 of their song "You Ain't Alone" on his music blog, Aquarium Drunkard, in July 2011.[1][7] By the next morning, the group were awash in offers from record labels and management companies.[1] Gage also contacted Patterson Hood, vocalist of the band Drive-By Truckers, who attended a show of theirs not long afterward. He arranged to set them up with their managers, Christine Stauder and Kevin Morris.[8] Alabama Shakes released the four-song EP Alabama Shakes September 2011, which gained media attention (including by NPR),[9] and earned them an invitation to play at the CMJ Music Marathon industry showcase in New York.[10] Soon, the band began negotiating a record deal with ATO Records, and changed their name after noticing how many groups shared it.[11][12] They began to open for the Drive-By Truckers. The group considered their ambitions met, but soon, Fogg later recalled, "everything kept going—at, like, a super-fast rate."[8]

Debut and mainstream success (2012–14)[edit]

The band performing three months prior to the release of Boys & Girls (2012).

The band's first full-length album, Boys & Girls, was released in April 2012.[13] It first debuted at number 16 on the national charts as a digital-only release,[14] but climbed to number eight as physical releases were distributed.[3] The album received near-universal acclaim..[1] After a European tour, they opened for Jack White over a summer tour and performed at several major music festivals, including Sasquatch, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.[3] The album's lead single, "Hold On" was a radio hit (peaking at number one on Billboard‍‍ '​‍s Adult Alternative Songs chart)[15] and was dubbed the best song of the year by Rolling Stone.[16]

The New York Times credited their "rapid ascent" to "Howard’s singular stage presence."[1] The group received three nominations for the 2013 Grammy Awards: Best New Artist, Best Rock Performance for "Hold On", and Best Recording Package for their debut album, Boys & Girls.[17][18] After the Grammy's performance, Boys & Girls returned to the top ten, peaking at number six a year after its release.[15] Boys & Girls was certified Gold by the RIAA for sales of over 500,000 in the United States on March 13, 2013.[19] It has since sold over 744,000 copies in the US.[15]

Sophomore album and recent events (2015–present)[edit]

The band began recording their second album in late 2013. The group listened to anything and everything for influence, without regard for its public reception in the end.[4] They spent over a year in the studio, with no clear end-goal, as they had not written any new songs due to their exhaustive touring schedule.[4]

The group's second studio album, Sound & Color, was released on April 21, 2015.[20][21][22] It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 in the US, making it the band's first number one album.[15] The record's lead single, "Don't Wanna Fight", was a number two hit on the Adult Alternative Songs chart.[15]

Musical style[edit]

Early critical reviews of their debut, Boys & Girls (2012), noted that the band borrowed from mid-20th century rhythm and blues.[23][24] Alongside Howard's voice, the songs were compared to artists such as Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin.[5] Howard herself took inspiration from Bon Scott of AC/DC in her singing, praising his "soulful" way of singing.[3] As the acclaim mounted, "reviewers speculated" that their sound was an homage to the music produced in Muscle Shoals, Alabama nearly five decades prior. Cockrell and Fogg were aware of the Shoals legacy,[16] but Howard was more influenced by bands such as Led Zeppelin and artists like David Bowie. The success of debut single "Hold On" led some to believe the group "were trying to pass themselves off as revivalists, something they never aspired to be."[1]

Their second record, Sound & Color (2015), is steeped in several different genres, touching on shoegaze to bands such as MC5.[23]

Band members[edit]

  • Brittany Howard – lead vocals, guitar
  • Zac Cockrell – bass guitar
  • Heath Fogg – guitar, backing vocals
  • Steve Johnson – drums, percussion, backing vocals

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
US
[25]
AUS
[26]
BEL
[27]
DEN
[28]
FRA
[29]
IRE
[30]
NL
[31]
SWE
[32]
SWI
[33]
UK
[34]
Boys & Girls 6 36 4 18 62 5 7 34 48 3
Sound & Color [37]
  • Released: April 21, 2015
  • Label: Rough Trade Records, ATO Records, MapleMusic Recordings
1 6 12 41 12 4 37 10 6

Extended plays[edit]

  • Alabama Shakes EP (September 13, 2011)
  • Heavy Chevy EP (2012)

Singles[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
Album
US
[25]
US
Alt.

[25]
US
Rock

[25]
US
AAA

[25]
BEL
[27]
CAN CAN
Alt

[38]
CAN
Rock

[39][40][41]
NL
[31]
"Hold On" 2012 93 17 15 1 34 81 11 10 49 Boys & Girls
"You Ain't Alone" Live at Third Man Records
"I Ain't the Same" 15 41 Boys & Girls
"Hang Loose" 2013 11 65
"Don't Wanna Fight" 2015 14 21 2 82 14 Sound & Color
"Gimme All Your Love" 29

Music videos[edit]

Title Year Director
"Hold On" 2012 Stephen Shirk/Chris Hershman
"I Ain't the Same" Jane Pollard
"Sound & Color" 2015 Mario Hugo

Songs in film[edit]

Year Song Appearance
2015 "Don't Want to Fight" Silicon Valley, Season 2, Episode 5 (Final Credits)
2014 "I Found You" A Long Way Down (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2013 "Driva Man" 12 Years a Slave (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2012 "Always Alright" Silver Linings Playbook (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Awards[edit]

Year Recipient / Nominated work Award Result
2012 Alabama Shakes Q Award for Best New Act Nominated
Americana Music Honors & Award for Emerging Artist of the Year Won
2013 BRIT Awards for International Group Nominated
Grammy Award for Best New Artist Nominated
"Hold On" Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance Nominated
2014 "Always Alright" Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Joe Rhodes (March 29, 2015). "Alabama Shakes’s Soul-Stirring, Shape-Shifting New Sound". The New York Times. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "​Alabama Shakes: Fearless and free". CBS News. May 3, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Brian Mansfield (April 27, 2012work=USA Today). "Meet the Alabama Shakes". Retrieved June 30, 2015.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ a b c David Browne (March 25, 2015). "How Alabama Shakes Gambled Big on Wild Second Album 'Sound & Color'". Rolling Stone (1232) (New York City: Wenner Media LLC). ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Alabama Shakes: Full Of 'Southern Soul'". All Things Considered. NPR. April 11, 2012. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  6. ^ Matt Frost (July 2012). "Andrija Tokic: Recording Alabama Shakes' Boys & Girls". Sound on Sound. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  7. ^ Justin Gage (July 25, 2011). "​Aquarium Drunkard >> The Shakes: You Ain't Alone". Aquarium Drunkard. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Tom Lamont (March 29, 2015). "Alabama Shakes: from small-town bar band to titans of rock". The Guardian. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  9. ^ Powers, Ann (14 October 2011). "How To Keep It Real When Making New Soul: Three Attempts". The Record: Music News from NPR. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  10. ^ Berman, Ben. "The Alabama Shakes: Right At Home with Newfound Fame". OffBeat. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  11. ^ Mongillo, Peter (8 February 2012). "Once a cover act, Alabama Shakes rock and soul band draws notice". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  12. ^ Peisner, David (2 February 2012). "Muscle Shoals Revival: Alabama Shakes Take Off". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  13. ^ Thompson, Stephen (1 April 2012). "First Listen: Alabama Shakes, 'Boys And Girls'". NPR Music. NPR. Retrieved April 2, 2012. 
  14. ^ Thompson, Stephen (1 April 2012). "First Listen: Alabama Shakes, 'Boys And Girls'". NPR Music. NPR. Retrieved April 2, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Keith Claufield (April 29, 2015). "Alabama Shakes Scores Its First No. 1 Album on Billboard 200 Chart". Billboard. (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved April 29, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b Will Hermes (February 28, 2013). "Alabama Shakes' Unlikely Triumph". Rolling Stone (1178) (New York City: Wenner Media LLC). ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  17. ^ "55th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees". GRAMMY.com. The Recording Academy. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  18. ^ Mary Colurso. "Alabama ties: 2013 Grammy nods for Alabama Shakes, Casting Crowns, Civil Wars, more". AL.com. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  19. ^ "RIAA News Room - Nine Acts Spring Forward With New Multi-Platinum Awards - Mar 13, 2013". Riaa.com. 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  20. ^ "Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes Shares Her Tour Must-Haves | InStyle". News.instyle.com. 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  21. ^ Terry, Josh (2015-02-10). "Alabama Shakes announce new album, Sound & Color, premiere "Don’t Wanna Fight" — listen". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  22. ^ "Alabama Shakes Share 'Don't Wanna Fight', Announce New Album". Overblown.co.uk. 2015-02-11. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  23. ^ a b Lauretta Charlton (June 12, 2015). "Alabama Shakes: ‘There’s No Way to Be Original’". Vulture. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  24. ^ Jon Dolan (April 10, 2012). "The Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls". Rolling Stone (1155) (New York City: Wenner Media LLC). ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  25. ^ a b c d e "Alabama Shakes Album & Songs Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2014-09-10. 
  26. ^ "australian-charts.com - Discography Alabama Shakes". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  27. ^ a b "Alabama Shakes - Belgium (Flanders) Charts". ultratop.be/nl/ Hung Medien. 
  28. ^ "Alabama Shakes - Danish Charts". danishcharts.com/ Hung Medien. 
  29. ^ "Alabama Shakes - French Charts". lescharts.com/ Hung Medien. 
  30. ^ "Alabama Shakes - Irish Charts". irish-charts.com/ Hung Medien. 
  31. ^ a b "Alabama Shakes - Dutch Charts". dutchcharts.nl/ Hung Medien. 
  32. ^ "Alabama Shakes - Swedish Charts". swedishcharts.com/ Hung Medien. 
  33. ^ "Alabama Shakes - Swiss Charts". hitparade.ch/ Hung Medien. 
  34. ^ Peak positions in United Kingdom:
  35. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - April 24, 2015". RIAA.com. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  36. ^ [1][dead link]
  37. ^ "Shoegaze / Alabama Shakes". 1001 Records. Retrieved 2015-05-25. 
  38. ^ Rock, Canadian (2012-07-18). "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Alternative Rock - July 17, 2012". Canadianrockalt.blogspot.ca. Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  39. ^ Rock, Canadian (2012-10-09). "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Active Rock - October 10, 2012". Canadianrockalt.blogspot.ca. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  40. ^ Rock, Canadian (2013-02-26). "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Active Rock - February 26, 2013". Canadianrockalt.blogspot.ca. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  41. ^ "Alabama Shakes - Chart history". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  42. ^ "Canadian digital download certifications – Alabama Shakes – Hold On". Music Canada. 

External links[edit]