Best music of 2011: Alabama Shakes

by chateauy

My pick for the best new talent emerging from 2011 was the Alabama Shakes. The Shakes do this kind of southern almost gospel style jamming which you just can’t help but love.  The music soars because of the incredible vocals of lead singer, Brittany Howard, whose voice has hints of greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, even Tina Turner.

But even more powerful than Howard’s voice is the passion which the whole band dedicates to the music. They are incredibly excited about playing together, so much so that, even though Howard works every Saturday morning at the US postal service (well until recently anyway – I think they’re busy nominated for awards and receiving tweets from Jamie Oliver nowadays), the Shakes manage to play weekend gigs right across Alabama and even in other states. This energy and joy is captured in the music in a way which, to me, really conveys those quintessential American traits – genuine self-belief, optimism and dedication to achieving dreams. It’s a feeling that I get in the US which disarms my natural cynicism and fills me with enthusiasm and motivation. And it’s how the Alabama Shakes’ debut EP makes me feel.

Expect to hear a lot about the band this year as they release their debut long-player in April.