Alabama Shakes: “Hold On”

Over the course of a year, KUT features 260 songs of the day from a wide range of artists, each one catching our collective ear. For the next two weeks, we’ll be highlighting the best songs of the day from 2012, featuring big names, new discoveries, Studio 1A exclusives, and some tunes that might have gotten lost in the shuffle in the past twelve months.

It’s been a helluva wild ride for the Alabama Shakes. One little post on the Aquarium Drunkard blog catapulted the earthy rock ‘n’ soul band from little Athens, Alabama from regional success to national attention. NPR’s “All Songs Considered” show picked them as one of their favorites of 2011. Paste hailed them as the best new band of 2011. The New York Times gushed about the band’s CMJ Bowery Ballroom performance. During SXSW they did a taping for Austin City Limits (and performed at ACL Fest in October), and performed at KUT’s own Live at the Four Seasons series.

The Alabama Shakes began as a mere spark of an idea in a high school psychology class. Singer and guitarist Brittany Howard approached classmate (and bassist) Zac Cockrell about starting a band. Howard and Cockrell recruited locals Steve Johnson on drums and Heath Fogg on guitar, and in 2009 the band (then just called The Shakes) was born. Together they create an electrifying mix of stomping rock ‘n’ roll and sweet soul music. It’s a sound that knocked out The Drive-By Truckers, who offered the group an opening slot on their tour.

On April 9 the band released its debut full-length Boys & Girls. The record begins with today’s song of the day “Hold On.” It’s a slow-burning bit of Muscle Shoals soul. Howard imbues her vocals with equal amounts of joy and pain as she pleads with the heavens to give her just a little bit more time.

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