Alabama Shakes: Boys & Girls

Alabama Shakes
Boys & Girls
Rating: ★★★½☆

Debut albums by a once obscure Southern blues quartet don’t come any more hyped than this. Through no fault of their own, the foursome has lots to live up to, and while the result doesn’t justify the buildup, there is no doubt that frontwoman Brittany Howard is a major talent. Her vocals have a sweat and whisky soaked swagger that is similar to Janis Joplin, without the latter’s rasp or self-destructive streak. Only about half these blues rockers reach out and grab you, and the rest of the band often seems tentative, but you can tell they have the raw energy to explode live. Despite the excessive publicity, the Shakes have enough potential to put them on the shortlist for best new act of the year.