Listen to Alabama Shakes (For Real)

Preach it, Alabama Shakes!

Y’all know I speak the truth. Remember when you asked about those stirrup pants? Or when you wondered if your should get that tattoo? I told you like it was.

So I hope you’ll believe me when I say you should listen to Alabama Shakes.

“But Mark! Who are they?”

They are a band that will melt your eyeballs with their Southern rock swagger. They will curl your hair with their passionate bluesy heartbreak. They will make you say, “Mmm-hmm!” when they hit a sweet-ass chorus.

That is partly because of lead singer Brittany Howard, who is one of the rare black women to front a major rock band but whose race and gender both seem immaterial when she tears her heart out and sings about it.

But Howard can’t do it alone. Her bandmates (all from Albama, obvs) are amazing, too. There’s a reason this band got nominated for awards before their first album came out. (That album, Boys and Girls, just dropped this week.)

So if you like Mumford & Sons or Aretha Franklin or the Black Crowes or, you know, awesome things, then take a listen to these sweet tracks.

(1) “Hold On”

Get those lighters in the air for this song, where Howard sings about surviving hard times.

(2) “You Ain’t Alone”

It’s like Janis Joplin came back to life and needed to sing the truth And this performance was filmed in my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Do it, Chattanooga! Do it all damn night!


So there’s Alabama Shakes. I hope you’re feeling me. And I hope you take my advice about the stirrup pants.

Mark Blankenship has written about pop music for NPR and The New York Times, and you can follow him on Twitter at @IAmBlankenship. He’d move back to Chattanooga if every day were Alabama Shakes day.