Album: Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls (Rough Trade)

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The Independent Culture

Essentially, a high-school band playing old-fashioned R&B and soul with a rock attitude and rhythm section: unrefined, unresigned, occasionally clunky, frequently obtuse but always, always fit to bust.

The voice at the front of this torrent – even the ballads are somehow torrential – belongs to one Brittany Howard, and she's what gets in your face first: groans, gasps, little moans, trembles and sighs, like afterthoughts. Big nasal hollers, too.

Behind her the rest of the Shakes crank out a pretty unrelenting barrage of R&B that wears its unsophistication as a badge of honour. The songs? They concern affairs of the heart and soul, as you'd hope. Listen to "You Ain't Alone" and take it from there. The Shakes are expected to be a big noise this year. But whether or not they find favour, they are already a very big noise in their own terms.