Song of the Day: Alabama Shakes - Don't Wanna Fight

Song of the Day
05/14/2015
Jacob Webb
photo by Brantley Gutierrez

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Don't Wanna Fight” by Alabama Shakes from the 2015 album Sound & Color on ATO Records.

Alabama Shakes - Don't Wanna Fight (MP3)

Although the Athens, Alabama, outfit Alabama Shakes started as a traditionalist rock and soul band, they've subverted the musical tropes they grew up with to become one of the most exciting rock bands to emerge from the South in recent memory. Formed by singer/guitarist Brittany Howard, guitarist Heath Fogg, drummer Steve Johnson, and bassist Zac Cockrell to stave off small town boredom, the band soon became the members' saving grace from their day jobs. After cutting their teeth playing house parties and bars, the band began recording their debut album in Nashville, with the band making the drive from Alabama to Tennessee each night in order to get back in time for work. That album, 2012's Boys & Girls, turned the band into an overnight success, catapulting them from hole-in-the-wall clubs into large theaters by the end of the year. After finishing the album cycle for Boys & Girls in summer 2013, the band spent a year working through sessions for their highly-anticipated followup with producer Blake Mills (Fiona Apple, Sara Watkins).

The result is this year's Sound and Color, a record that takes the soul and rock ideas from their past work and warps them into studio-treated versions that are only just barely recognizable as the work of the same band. On "Don't Wanna Fight", the band's transformation is front and center. Save for Howard's booming voice (which, to be fair, didn't need to be messed with), the stuttering guitars and thick, splashy bass that drive the song are a far cry from the taught, Muscle Shoals-style band on Boys & Girls, and it's all the more exhilarating of a performance because of it. By the time Howard shrieks her way through the final chorus, it's clear that even though Alabama Shakes broke down and cleverly rebuilt their sound, they still have the ability to take over a room with their sheer volume and groove.

Alabama Shakes just announced a Seattle show in support of Sound and Color, at Marymoor Park on August 8th. Get tickets for that all-ages show here, and keep an eye on their website and Facebook. Below, watch the band play "Hold On" live on KEXP during their 2012 in-studio session.

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