This comment on a Metafilter thread (left by Bitter Old Punk) about the band says everything you need to know. Or you could just skip straight to the video and let the chills travel up and down your arm:
Last June or July, one of their videos gets picked up by the music blog Aquarium Drunkard. It gets the attention of one of the blog’s readers, Pat Hood of Drive-By Truckers, who tracks down lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard (who is working for the post office in Athens, Alabama at the time). He invites the band to open a few shows for DBT. By October, they’re headlining a CMJ showcase show. By December, they’ve all quit their day jobs, have professional representation, and are shopping their demo to labels. By April, they’ve played sold-out shows in the UK and US, their album hits #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on the UK charts.
It’s an amazing story. They’re an amazing band. If you have the chance to see them live, do so. Elizarde and I saw them last December in Birmingham in a small club that was packed to capacity. They started slowly, ratcheting things up with every tune. By the end of the show the crowd was sweaty and gasping and transported – glorious, truly one of the best shows I’ve EVER seen.
As it happens, their attorney is based in Birmingham, and I kinda know the guy as friends-of-friends. He’s a former professional musician himself, who played in a couple of popular indie rock bands in the 80s and 90s. During the Shakes set, I turned to him and said, “We’re watching something really special happen here, aren’t we?” He grinned and mopped sweat off his face and replied, “Fuck yeah we are.”
And here’s the capper. Because they’d been on such a whirlwind, the Shakes hadn’t spent much time at home. So before the show, a whole group of old people came into the club and quietly were ushered backstage. It was all of the band members parents. See, they had picked that night to shoot their first “official” video, and they wanted their moms and dads to be there with them.
Anyway, from everything I’ve heard from people who know, this band is not only super-talented, super charismatic, and super soulful, they’re also really nice smart level-headed people who’ve surrounded themselves with quality people and are intent on being in the music business for the long run.
In three years, Alabama Shakes will be a household name, you’ll hear their music everywhere, and EVERYONE will know who Brittany Howard is.
And it couldn’t have happened to a more-deserving bunch.
Again: the album’s pretty damn good, but GO SEE THIS BAND LIVE. They are absolutely transcendent.