Alabama Shakes Shakes It Up on SNL

Posted March 1, 2015 by J Matthew Cobb in HiDef

Psychedelic rock and broody soul earthquakes take place during Alabama Shakes’ latest SNL performance

Alabama bred Alabama Shakes showcased their swampy rock tunes from their forthcoming album Sound & Color on NBC’s Saturday Night Live last night.

With soulfully raw lead vocalist Brittany Howard in charge, the band – once nominated for Best New Artist at the 2013 Grammys – wowed audiences with a slight update to their sound. On their latest lead single “Don’t Wanna Fight,” they sailed through psychedelic rock that felt like the Black Keys. Although it bears a very repetitive chorus that may grow tiring, Howard pulls off a performance that’s decked with oozing squeals and more of that Janis Joplin energy she’s noted of possessing.

Their second number, “Gimmie All Your Love,” sounds more like a slow jam inserted in Black Keys’ psychedelic rock. Halfway through the song, just when you think it’s over, it transitions into a minted Memphis soul jam that plays up the Shakes’ Southern base. Lead guitarist Heath Fogg cranked up a complimentary solo before the band decided to wrap it up with another smooth section and a rhythmic staccato stunner.

Howard showed off her love for Alabama with a full reveal of her home state’s tattoo on her right bicep. She also wore some funky earrings. Far away, the look like black and white prints of Prince, or maybe even herself.

This is not the first time the Shakes have played SNL. The Athens, Alabama band played the 40-year old late-night comedy show several months after their first album, Boys & Girls, dropped and it vaulted to number three on the UK Albums chart. In the US, that album flew to number 6 on the Billboard 200.

Sound & Color is scheduled for release April 21.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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