The story of the Alabama Shakes begins in a high school psychology class in Athens, Alabama. Brittany Howard, Zac Cockrell, Steve Johnson and Heath Fogg started recording songs at 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’.
After a gig at a Nashville record store led to ‘You Ain’t Alone’ getting featured on a blog – they woke up the next day to, “emails from record labels, managers, publishing companies," says Howard. "At first I thought, everybody's making a mistake!"
Then the Shakes gave a performance at the CMJ Festival in New York City that earned a glowing review from the New York Times. Jon Pareles described the band as "a thunderbolt dressed in bluejeans," with music that's "aching when it’s slow and growling and whooping when it’s fast." NPR named them one of the best bands of 2011, while MTV called them one of the top bands to look for in 2012.
With expectations at fever pitch, the Alabama Shakes delivered ‘Boys & Girls’ - six of the songs from that initial Nashville session, and another five recorded during the rest of the year. From the heart-rending title song to such stomps as ‘Rise to the Sun’, the album demonstrates the sense of groove and space the band learned from their idols, along with a blistering force and emotion that simply can’t be learned.