Spotify Listen Link: Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
- Best New Artist
- Best Rock Performance, "Hold On"
- Best Recording Package
You may know them like I do - the band Jack White discovered. You may also know them as a bit of a different sounding folk/blues/rock band that many folks are really excited to hear. No matter how YOU know of them though, I am ready to listen.
"Hold On" is probably the one you've heard before. Or, at least, I have for some reason. The beat, right from the get-go, is so awesome. It's steady and feels just so damn good. I don't love the vocal effects, but if you listen the right way, there's a throw back sound of old soul singers where there's a slight scratch the voice and almost over-done blow outs of the mic and speakers. I have no idea if my meaning is getting across at all, but it's my blog so you just get to deal with it! Ha, I love doing this for absolutely nothing. No constraints! Down with the man and his rules! Buahahaha. Okay, okay, sorry, I'll be moving on right about… now. I mean, the song ended after all.
It's funny. When I think Alabama Shakes, I think down-home band, mostly based in stinger instruments and Southern beats. "I Found You" is a song that could easily be heard in an old smokey club with a brilliant band going at it on stage. It's like a blast from the 70's or so with the sound of a club and band meshing this odd way I can't even begin to put my finger on.
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"Hang Loose" has a beach sound without going Beach Boys on us. It's kind of really cool, which is about the only adjective I've got as far as explanation goes. A lot of the melody in the vocals meshes together for me though. It's pleasant enough to listen to, but nothing I feel too strongly about one way or another. If it's meant to be a fun, care-free song, there's a definite heaviness in there. If it's meant to mean something, I missed the message.
Things slow down ever so slightly for "Rise to the Sun." I guess there's a sulkier groove to this one. Modes like this have a tendency to run in to each other and melt into one glorious distortion of noise. It's groovy baby, totally groovy.
I spoke to soon on the slow song front. Then along comes a blues sounding song with "You Ain't Alone." This is a sway-y one man, just kind of something you have to feel in your soul. It's also sitting at close to five minutes, which is a little hard to swallow for a slower jam, even in something good. It's aggravating because I always run out of things to say in these moments as a song just keeps going on and on.
"Goin' to the Party" reminds me of Jack White. I mean, obviously the band has their very own amazing sound, but I can't help the association naturally, let alone when the music/vocals are reminiscent of the rock god. This is an interlude in a different but really cool way. Fitting, yet stands on its own as a song.
And we're back in for the second half. The piano plays in and drums start going like a marching band. "Heartbreaker" still has that smokey blues element to it. Sort of just want to sway around to it and enjoy the sound a bit. I wish I was paying attention to the lyrics just a little more closely, but I'm catching the point. And it's exactly what you think it probably is.
"Boys & Girls" - yes, it's title track time! Slower than expected, and sort of just as heartbreaking. Somehow I always assumed this band would get me on my feet dancing. But this isn't a bad thing, it just means that they feel and emote more than expected and do a generally excellent job at it. Feel with them.
Oh sweet muffled guitar, have I ever told you how much I love you, despite normally hating the technique. It's hard and edgy, with a smokey, romantic side as well. Yes, yes, I'm a complicated woman and proud of it. I don't even entirely care what's happening with the lyrics, as they are what provides a good backing here to the music that's taking control of my heart and soul. "Be Mine" is something sweet.
"I Ain't the Same" finally picks it back up just a little bit. Sorry, but we did need a bit of a wakeup to happen on this album. She's still snagging her damn heart out and making us feel it non-stop, but the there's a beat to tap your foot to, if not all out groove and dance to. There's also this cool element of freedom in the attitude here that I guess comes with the growth aspect the song seems to portray. I just love the overall concept and feel of this song. It's something great.
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Final song time. "On Your Way" closes us out with a medium beat along the way. It's a solid ending for the band with a pretty final sound going on. From the harmonies to the build in the drums make it feel like there's movement toward something to be completed. The musical breakdowns even sound like something playing just at the end of the show when the band is giving you all they've got left.
Added to My Playlist:
- "Hold On"
- "I Found You"
- "Be Mine"
- "I Ain't the Same"
Ah, so this is sort of a middle-of-the-road album for me. Maybe I got too excited over the bit that I loved before this and went in with too high of expectations. It wasn't bad, by any means, but it was tiring in spots, and absolutely amazing in others. I want more though, but live, because I know form experience that this band knows how to put on a show for sure.
NEW MUSIC TUESDAY!!!
Spotify Listen Link: Jack White – Blunderbuss
2013 Grammy Nominations:
Personal note first: Dear Christine, you're welcome.
- Album of the Year
- Best Rock Song for "Freedom at 21"
- Best Rock Album
So, Mr. Jack White, a man of many bands, brings us his solo project, finally. This guy is absolutely incredible, in my eyes. He has managed to do everything and anything he wants in music, never worrying about commercial success. This is more of an underground success story than any I've ever heard.
Of course, we knew him in The White Stripes, probably the most commercially successful of all of his projects. But try listing off every other one of his projects/bands, and you'll see that he probably hasn't seen much sleep since the initial success of "Seven Nation Army." Let's just do the quick list: The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, The Upholsterers, Two Star Tabernacle, Goober & The Peas, The Hentchmen... and his solo debut is just happening now (I'm not counting the Loretta Lynn project - even though it may be my favorite - because the bigger credit there is as the producer).
In short, Jack White, you are one of my heroes. If you ever read this: please let me apprentice for you and learn you amazing ways.
Okay, so getting into the album itself, we start off with "Missing Pieces." Awesome guitar lead-in, naturally, followed by Jack's odd but interesting voice and lyrics hitting hard. There's this synth sort-of sound throughout as well, just adding to the hard-to-place sound of it all. Mr. White takes over on his guitar around the two minute mark, for just a small solo, and it's crisp. The whole thing is much more polished than expected - a sort of different production style than expected. But it's good stuff, and gets your blood flowing and ready for the album.
"Sixteen Saltines" comes on with a much harder sound - thank God my roommates aren't trying to sleep. If you were trying to sit and relax during this one, you were awoken pretty damn abruptly. Oddly, it remains clean. There's no attempt for a dirty garage sound here - this is a seasoned professional. There's timing and a precise method to every movement made. Hot damn.
Maybe spoke too soon on the polished sound - the bass drum is just a little off sounding at the start of "Freedom At 21." But I may just be trying to find flaws here that don't totally exist. The guitar line here is magnificent (I don't remember the last time I used that word). He's barely singing - it's just closer to rapping than carrying a melody. I like the topic of the girl who can do whatever the hell she wants. And the beat, overall, is more than enough to get your hips moving.
If you're looking for a more classic White sound, you're probably going to be happy with "Love Interruptions." I think the similarities lie most in the vocals - the girl addition alone helps prod it in that direction. Love the lyrics here: "I won't let love disrupt, corrupt, or interrupt me." I mean damn, that's something, right? That's something that's enough to make you sit up and pay attention.
Title track time! I'm always interested in these tracks if for nothing more than to see how they represent the album. "Blunderbuss" has this incredibly different sound to it, utilizing Willy-Wonka-like working and riddles to my ears. There's also this unique style with strings, and a piano that's just pretty as it plays through. It's really an interesting mid-way track, appropriately tucked in as something to tickle the ears at this point in the album.
"Hypocritical Kiss" is, I believe, my favorite track thus far. I'm not catching every lyric, but there's something in them that hits hard and well. The piano has something to do with this, I'm sure, as it just uses the entire upper register to do something outstanding. The effect/layer on the vocals in enchanting, really just portraying beautiful melodies and keeps me wanting more.
For a guy that's so known for his guitar work, the piano on this album is clear and dominating and, well, wonderful. "Weep Themselves to Sleep" sees it working up and down, bringing in this classical element to an otherwise not altogether happy song. I mean, the use of instrumentation in this one is something else. I'm not in love with the vocals/lyrics throughout, but that backing track alone sounds like something incredible.
Ah now, I remember "I'm Shakin'." It's a kickin' dance song that I'm dying to hear live. The beat alone has got to get you up and moving. There's some backup singers adding a little doo-wop to the whole thing. But mostly, I can't get over that beat! It's just so damn good, and so in tune with what music once was, with this modern twist. Whew... just love it!
"Trash Tongue Talker" is a little more raw in the sound, mostly through the vocal track. There's just more of an echo than the other songs. About a minute in is where you need to listen though - the instrumental break is something else entirely. It's like an old jazz bar has been transported to today's studio, with just enough rock riff to make it all different. It happens again around 2:20.
The sway of "Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy" is what sucks me in. It's a jazz/blues/easy feeling, almost reminiscent of the Beatles, and maybe even giving a hint of Hanson's latest album (no, I'm not calling them an influence, just using my frame of reference). It's just got a great feel overall, again using every inch of the song specifically timed out to create the sound to just get up and boogy along to.
It's about this time of night that I could totally be singing this song, "I Guess I Should Go To Sleep." I don't totally know if this song was meant for anything more than to be a little funny, and maybe a slight blues song. It's a decent, old-sounding song - and I mean really old. It strikes me as something out of the 1920s, even down to the player piano sound coming from the notes.
"On And On And On" starts with this ominous string sound, and nothing totally takes us out of the trace nature of this track. I mean, there's a little piano, but nothing that packs a punch in the song. It's one of the most solemn tracks of the album so far. It's almost relaxing, but the drum beat keeps you from falling to deep asleep. Not the best follow up to that last one, now that i am actually laying in bed.
In what I cannot help but deem an appropriately titled ending song, we get "Take Me With You When You Go." In this, I'm pretty sure we hear just about every genre of rock you can imagine, and it all somehow works. There's some grunge sounds, some jazz, some progressive... just some of everything. It's not jaunting as we move from place to place either. The only thing making me not a total fan are the notes hit by some of the voices throughout. Otherwise, great ending.
Added to My Playlist:
Ahhhh, this was awesome. It was probably my favorite work of his I've listened to you yet and, if you read my introduction, you know he's done a hell of a lot of work. This album is full of different kinds of music, completely polished and interesting to the ears throughout the entire experience. What a good album, and I mean that as a whole and entire grouping of work.
- "Missing Pieces"
- "Freedom At 21"
- "Love Interruption"
- "Hypocritical Kiss"
- "I'm Shakin'"
- "Trash Tongue Talker"
- "Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy"