A number of bands are returning to a Southern-rock sound these days, but much of the music they're making is too derivative to be interesting. Alabama Shakes, fresh off a date warming up for Neil Young, bucks that trend. The group's members, who met in high school and forged the kind of personal bond that shines through in the music, don't sound like they went back and mined their parents' record collections in an effort to emulate some bygone glory days. Instead, singer and guitarist Brittany Howard sings with an impassioned believability that sounds like she has experienced a fuller life than her young years could hope to contain. Her earthy vocals and the band's solid, vibrant musicianship are both remarkable for their emotional depth. The band's 2012 album, Boys & Girls, captures a taste of its soul-driven rock, but it's best experienced live.
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