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Boys & Girls, Alabama Shakes

Ato Records, April 10, 2012

Track Listing: 1. Hold On, 2. I Found You, 3. Hang Loose, 4. Rise to the Sun, 5. You Ain’t Alone, 6. Goin’ to the Party, 7. Heartbreaker, 8. Boys & Girls, 9. Be Mine, 10. I Ain’t the Same, 11. On Your Way, 12. Heavy Chevy (Bonus Track)

“Ooh! I took a shine to you”

-fromBe Mine

I got me the shakes. The hippie-hippie shakes. It started with a fever, a sinus infection or something. Wicked allergies brought on by a steamy spring-turned-hellfire summer. Succinctly, I was shit-faced on pollen. Next thing I know, the infection took a wrong turn, leaving me broken down on the wrong side of a 102-degree fever. The room is sideways and I’ve got chills despite being wrapped in a wool winter blanket.

Lost in catatonia, I’m looking over at a glass full of what I believe to be pineapple-orange juice and I’m hoping it’s going to make the first move. I know I’m supposed to be drinking fluids, lots of fluids, something along the lines of a colonoscopy-sized prep of fluids, but somehow the act of physically leaning forward and grabbing hold of the glass in front of me is proving next to impossible.

Mixed in the muddle of confusion clogging my delirious head is the image of a Big Brother & The Holding Company album on the coffee table next to the juice. I believe I am coherent enough to remember that I gave away my last LP sometime around the turn of the century, and so it makes me wonder: just where in the hell was I anyway and why?

Is an awful lot of question
And I can’t give me no answer
I keep wondering on”

-fromBoys & Girls

And there it is. A voice, rushing back. Janis? Amy Winehouse? A fearsome delirium seizes me.

Two weeks prior, I couldn’t have foreseen the upcoming sickness any more than I could have predicted the contents of the email that would make its way to my Inbox, triggering the subsequent chain of events. Check out Alabama Shakes, she said. And Jack White’s new one too. Okay, so the emailer and I weren’t as close as we once were or else she would have known that I was already a full-fledged-card-carrying member of the Church of Jack White. It didn’t matter. She had my attention. Just as she did years ago when she introduced me to Billie Holiday, surprising me with a box set of Lady Sings the Blues. You don’t forget that.

“I ain’t the same no more”

-fromI Ain’t the Same

A Google click directs me to YouTube. The drums kick-start a cool, laid-back jam, followed by a strolling-in-the-park riff that rises up and down the frets of bass and electric guitars. The camera then pans to the singer, guitar in hand, as she begins to do her thing.

“Bless my heart
Bless my soul
l didn’t think I’d make it
To 22 years old”

-fromHold On

A double-turned-triple-take later, I shake my head, feeling as though I had been somehow waiting for this moment. There are times when first impressions remind you of the weight of their significance, when an introduction inexplicably cements an immediate connection that is built to last.

“Well, I traveled a long way
And it took a long time to find you
But I finally found you”

-fromI Found You

The shakes of a different variety continue when I read about the hype. There is a recurring use of that word from a few bloggers and reviewers writing about Alabama Shakes, even though many use it in affirmation, saying the band manages to deliver despite the hype. I shake my head, wondering why hype has to be dogged by such negative connotation, especially in an industry where a new band can use any injection of publicity and hype it can get. But who the hell am I? I’m just some damned fool lit up on Benadryl and Brittany, delirious but delighted, hot but cold, sick as all hell but energized, crazed, and alive. I close my eyes, carving our initials inside a heart into the trunk of an imaginary tree so we will always be able to remember when it began.

“You and me throughout eternity!”

-fromHeavy Chevy