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If overnight sensations The Alabama Shakes, with fans like Adele and Booker T. Washington, are good enough for Zales to use to hawk their diamonds, then they're good enough for me. Since releasing their debut four-song EP last September, the Athens, Alabama group (yup, Athens again), led by soulful frontwoman Brittany Howard, have quickly established themselves as future 2012 best-of candidates.
The twenty-three-year-old Howard (who was a postal worker mere months ago) grew up under the spell of artists like Elvis, Dion, James Brown, Loretta Lynn, and Otis Redding, and her throat-scarring delivery makes Janis Joplin comparisons inevitable. Her fellow Shakes introduced her to bands like T-Rex and AC/DC, as well as punk, and the rest is history.
The band (guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, drummer Steve Johnson, and newest member, keyboardist Ben Tanner) recently did their thing on NPR's World Cafe, which included tackling Led Zeppelin's Howlin' Wolf-inspired stemwinder, "How Many More Times." Needless to say, Zep's classic is in good hands.
The Shakes' full-length, eleven-track debut, Boys & Girls (mixed and produced by the band in Nashville), is out April 10, and the bandwagon will have plenty of room. Alabama Shakes fans can expect "swampy, dirty South rock, blues, and soul delivered with punk rock fervor."