Alabama Shakes, Sound And Color

Alabama Shakes, Sound And ColorBack in April 2012, Alabama Shakes crunched their way into our conscious with the release of their impressive debut studio album, Boys And Girls, and just a couple of years on their about to do it again with their follow up record, Sound And Color. While we can’t agree with their spelling selection, we’ve got pretty high expectations for the new album based on the first few spins of the tracks they’ve released in advance, which seem to indicate that they’re a band that wants to develop as much as they want to explore previously covered ground.

Sound And Color will be available on CD, 2 disc vinyl LP and digital download on the 20th April 2015 in the UK and the 21st in the US. The big difference this time around is that they’ve become much more well known since their last release with worldwide tours, slots on most big TV shows, including David Letterman and Jools Holland, and Grammy nomination along the way, so there’s much more instant interest for their second studio album.

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The record has been worked on over the last year or so, eventually going on to be recorded at Sound Emporium in Nashville. Californian songwriter, guitarist, producer, and composer Blake Mills co-produced the album with the four members of Alabama Shakes – Brittany Howard on lead vocals and guitar, Zac Cockrell on bass, Heath Fogg on guitar and backing vocals, and Steve Johnson on drums – and Shawn Everett took care of the sound engineer and mixing duties.

Three tracks have been released in the build up to the launch of their second studio album and they’re all built in the same garage and blues rock cloak as the band’s previous tracks, but with a lot of new directions interlaced in their makeup. It’s a pretty good indication that Alabama Shakes could well be the kind of band that sticks around for a while as it reinvents itself over the years. Check out the full track list at the bottom of the page.

The first of the tracks, Don’t Wanna Fight, brings in elements of funk with lead vocalist Brittany Howard ranging from deep deep tone verse that she’s known for before ripping out the high pitch chorus. There’s a simple funk bass line running through it and a stark electric guitar riff, making it sound almost post modern in its construction. You can check out the monochrome psychedelic music video for Don’t Wanna Fight below, so let us know what you think in the comments underneath.

It’s followed up by Future People, which brings more high note vocals from Howard on the track, which feels a bit like the love child of David Bowie and Iggy Pop’s China Girl and Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. However, in and amongst the staccato guitar riff and high pitch vocals there’s still vague traces of blues rock, which is no easy feat, and it’s all backed up by a pretty epic freak-out crunching guitar mid section.

The last of the three new songs, Gimme All Your Love, is touched by a little crazy, slow-down blues and we can’t help but love it a little as a result, especially when it goes guano loco for the hard hitting chorus. Hushed vocals crack into whimsy momentarily before punching out the war cry of the song title and the addition of organ melodies and off kilter effects bring even more unconventional experimentation to the fore.

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If Boys & Girls was their roots rock revival, Sound & Color is its reinvention in a modern world, making them sound even cooler than the cool kids they’d already started to become following their studio album opener. It sounds like it’s going to be sharp and unexpected, making Alabama Shakes an early contender for more music award nominations this year.

To accompany the album release, the band from Athens, Alabama will be going off on a worldwide tour with UK dates in Birmingham, Brighton, and Manchester in May 2015, and a later gig at the O2 Academy Briton, London on the 18th November 2015. They’re also down to play T In The Park on the 10th July.

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Don’t Wanna Fight music video:

Track list:

1. Sound and Color
2. Don’t Wanna Fight
3. Dunes
4. Future People
5. Gimme All Your Love
6. This Feeling
7. Guess Who
8. The Greatest
9. Shoegaze
10. Miss You
11. Gemini
12. Over My Head