Recently it seems that everyone is making a fuss about the Alabama Shakes. From blog aggrandizing to a successful run at CMJ last fall, the band is enjoying quite a bit of preaching about their merits. The music is undeniably fun-- Brittany Howard has the naturally soulful croon that Jack White has spent his entire life trying to emulate, and her band is proficient at riffing appropriately bluesy schmaltz behind her. The band's four-track EP garnered much love for its soul, including a Zales commercial placement (that many of the older generation probably mistook for some obscure, decades-old b-side). A few fortunate turns (and no publicist), and the name is somehow on the tip of everyone's tongue. A year ago, nobody outside of Athens had ever heard of them.
But "good" and "relevant" and "significant" are all different things. Alabama Shakes only seem to occupy one of these buckets, doing what they do extremely well, but sounding like a band stuck out of time is nothing new. From "Hold On" to "You Ain't Alone," each song occupies a specific set of aesthetic values that we're already too familiar with-- it's almost as if we are already acquainted and are just picking these records off the shelf. And if they feel like they came off the shelf, truth is, they're going to have to work hard to avoid winding up there.