For some reason, my iPod, more often than not, defaults automatically to “Hold On,” the leadoff track on Alabama Shakes’ debut set “Boys & Girls,” when I turn it on nearly every morning.
And, more often than not, I usually let the whole album play.
In an era where a catchy YouTube video turns novelties into household names, of radio programming based more on “Moneyball”-esque stats and number crunching, and corporate sway that’s likely justthisclose to crossing the payola line rather than the hunches of the local D.J. or demand from fans, an authentic, rootsy, genre-defying act such as Alabama Shakes getting even a modicum of airtime is cause for celebration.
Not to diminish the musicianship of guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell and drummer Steve Johnson – but Shakes front woman Brittany Howard is a vocal force to be reckoned with and, coming at a time where the ProTools likes of Brittany Spears and Mariah Carey are looked upon to find today’s next great singer, a pleasant anomaly.
While influences do emerge when describing her vocal prowess – Etta James and Koko Taylor come to mind here, but so does Robert Plant, circa “Led Zeppelin II” – Howard weaves what influences honed her into her own intoxicating, earnest and unique concoction that hasn’t been heard in regular rotation on pop/rock radio in at least 15 years.
Played front to back, there’s nary a bum note to be found on “Boys.”
And if the album is a knockout, what Howard and her cohorts bring to the stage might be nothing short of amazing.
Alabama Shakes, 8 p.m. Dec. 1, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine Ave., Chicago. Sold out (18 and older). FYI: (773) 275-6800, JAMUSA.COM
Band of Horses, Alabama Shakes, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago. $50. FYI: (312) 462-6300, THECHICAGOTHEATRE.COM
ON SALE NOW
For more information, contact the venues or ticket sales agencies listed below. Unless otherwise indicated, all shows are all-ages.
Soundgarden, Jan. 29-30, Riviera Theatre (18 and older, JAMUSA.COM)
Sigur Ros, April 2, UIC Pavilion (UICPAVILION.COM)
Yo La Tengo, Feb. 1, Vic Theatre (JAMUSA.COM)
Flogging Molly, Jan. 26, Aragon Ballroom (ARAGON.COM)
Shuggie Otis, April 17, Lincoln Hall (21 and older, LINCOLNHALLCHICAGO.COM)
Moe., Feb. 9, Riviera Theatre (JAMUSA.COM)
They Might Be Giants, March 16, Vic Theatre (14 and older, JAMUSA.COM)
Matt and Kim, Feb. 22, UIC Pavilion (UICPAVILION.COM)
The Darkness, Jan. 27, Riviera Theatre (18 and older, JAMUSA.COM)
Morrissey, Jan. 26, The Chicago Theatre (THECHICAGOTHEATRE.COM)
Kris Allen, April 20, Lincoln Hall (LINCOLNHALLCHICAGO.COM)
The opinions expressed solely are those of the writer. Tim Shellberg can be reached at T.firstname.lastname@example.org.