The story of the Alabama Shakes begins in a high school psychology class in Athens, Alabama. Brittany Howard, who had started playing guitar a few years earlier, approached Zac Cockrell and asked if he wanted to try making music together. “I just knew that he played bass and that he wore shirts with cool bands on them that nobody had heard of,” says Howard. They started to meet up after school and write songs sitting on Howard’s floor. “It had that rootsy feel, but there was some out-there stuff,” says Cockrell. “David Bowie-style things, prog-rock, lots of different stuff. We started to come across our own sound a little bit, though it’s evolved a lot since then.”
Attempting to record their songs with the honest sonic qualities they cherished, the Shakes bought a few microphones and a vintage Teac mixing board and set up in Howard’s house—which didn’t work, since she lived right next to some railroad tracks. They eventually found their way to a Nashville studio in early 2011, where the songs they cut included “You Ain’t Alone” and “I Found You.” When they appeared at a Nashville record store, people started to take notice of the group’s relentless, hard-charging live attack, and Howard’s magnetic stage presence. One especially ardent fan raved about the band to his friends, which included Justin Gage, the founder of the Aquarium Drunkard blog. Gage wrote to Howard, asking if he could post one of the Shakes’ songs. She sent back the yearning, intense “You Ain’t Alone,” which he put up in late July, calling it “a slice of the real.” And, literally overnight, all hell broke loose.
Good Old War
"Together as Good Old War the trio have mastered the art of three part vocal harmonies and their lively and intricate songs are a throwback to the days when Crosby, Stills, & Nash ruled the Rock world" – Alternative Press Seldom do band members rebound gracefully after their main musical effort falls apart, but Keith Goodwin (vocals/guitar) and Tim Arnold (drums/vocals), members of the once up-and-coming progressive rock band Days Away have managed to do just that, pulling a 180 with their sound to a great degree of success in their new acoustic folk project Good Old War. Rounding out the trio is Dan Schwartz (guitar/vocals) from the Americana tinged 6 piece band, Unlikely Cowboy.
Unlike the recent trend among indie rock artists who have visited the country/folk genre, Good Old War makes no attempt to assimilate its music for the sake of novelty. There's no fake twang in Keith Goodwin's soft vocals, nor does the band try to overindulge itself by adding sounds by the harmonica or mandolin just for the sake of having them. Instead, this trio from Pennsylvania retains the intimate storytelling nature of folk-song structure, playing music for those who desire an emotive, lyrical experience without having to wade through pretentious or unnecessary musical gimmicks to get it.
From backwoods barbecues and community gatherings; Allen Stone emerges to share personal melodies, telling his tales of life after just 24 years. Getting his start singing at his father's church in small-town America; it wasn't until later when introduced to the greats of soul music (Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin) and then to the confessional lyrical fashion of the 60's -70's singer/ songwriters, did music begin to ignite intense passion, eventually carrying this boy to a musical home.
On his self-titled sophomore album - an independent self-release which hit digital shelves October 4, Allen has pushed his sound and lyricism to a greater level of noted individuality. It touches upon a range of styles and themes. Integrating classic soul, catchy pop hooks, r&b beats and folk roots with lyrical matters of testimonial broken relationships, poisonous politics and the age-old topic of simple, pure celebration. Stone's music is notable for his ?nely crafted evocative songs and a fresh, smooth, soul-?lled voice-one that certainly belies his age.