If Alabama Shakes debut Boys & Girls was a first shot across the bow against musical mediocrity, then Sound & Color is a full on declaration of war. Not content to merely ride the wave of being the best rock ‘n’ soul or Southern rock band to currently grace the planet, they expand and grow. It’s the kind of growth and experimentation one got from Radiohead when they leapt from The Bends to OK Computer; or in other words – WOW!
Their sound might have originally been rooted in 1960’s Memphis, but damn, they just pulled in the 70’s funk and threw it into a blender with Bacharach on the song “Guess Who.” Then they give you a trip to so-cal on “Shoegaze” and fly off to Philadelphia Soul with a twisted Gibson/Marshall feel on the song “Dunes.”
The vibe is all over the rock music landscape and Brittany Howard’s vocal are not only up to the task, but are in fact laying out a challenge to anyone else willing to stand in front of a microphone. Rather than the usual “see my vocal range” musical masturbation that gets tossed out by pop musicians, Howard uses emotional resonance to drive home the feel of the song. In fact, I’d say she has more in common with old female jazz vocalists like Bessie Smith, or male rock vocalists like Robert Plant than any contemporary to be gracing the charts of this day and age.
With Sound & Color, Alabama Shakes have shown themselves to be far more than just another rock band, they are the band you seek out and put headphones on when you listen. You will not be content to let crappy computer speakers or crappy downloads play this music; nope it is full on stereo sound with this album. Yep, I think I found my soundtrack for the summer.
Speaking of which, you can get Sound & Color in a 180 gram vinyl 2 disc set or a clear double vinyl version at your local record stores.