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Alabama Shakes shakin’ up soul

>>By Megan McCann, Guest Writer

Sex, dancing, studying, smoking and sleeping are all appropriate activities for plugging in to Alabama Shakes’ “Sound & Color.”

With the soft pings of its title song, “Sound & Color” lures you in from the beginning. Lead singer Brittany Howard does nothing short of crooning over the sounds of drummer Steve Johnson, bassist Zac Cockrell and guitarist Heath Fogg.

Just over three years after the release of their debut album, “Boys & Girls,” Alabama Shakes has provided a more mature, deeper album for the movers and shakers to gnaw on.

Alabama Shakes truly shows us what they’re all about in “Sound & Color.” After three Grammy nominations for “Boys & Girls,” the band is out for a win without even trying. They have made it all about the soul of the stanzas.

The apathetic yet ever-caring sound is a pipe dream for most alternative musicians, but Howard and the gang nailed it with this album. All the tracks can create any kind of vibe you want them to: smooth and soulful or rock-your-face-off loud.

There are too many highlights to mention, but the star that shines brightest is track number five, “Gimme All Your Love.” It gives us everything we want from a band like Alabama Shakes. There is both tough and smooth guitar, both relaxed and radical sounds from Howard’s chords, relatable lyrics and a melody you can’t ignore. It’s a cluster of the best sounds possible, thrown together in a mish-mash of musical pleasure.

Another one to pay attention to is “Gemini,” the second-to-last track on the album. This song is like relapsing into an old relationship; it feels dangerous, weird and so hot you forget all the bad things that ever happened. Do yourself a favor: When you listen to the eight-minute marathon that is “Gemini,” close your eyes and just listen.

The band has roots as deep as Howard’s voice. Howard met Cockrell 15 years ago at East Limestone High School in Athens, Ala. The duo wrote songs together after school and eventually met Johnson and Fogg soon after.

Alabama Shakes is one of those unique rock bands that can be the dirty, grungy rock you hear in a bar or the slow, sad songs of a broken heart. They can be anything you want them to be. Anything except bad musicians.

“Sound & Color” is an example of a band sticking to their small-town charm after achieving success. From the first to last note, “Sound & Color” is a dripping cherry popsicle on a hot day. It’s sticky, refreshing and sweet as hell.

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