Indie sensation Alabama Shakes tops US album chart

NEW YORK (AFP) - Alabama Shakes, the versatile band that merges rock and blues, debuted at number one on the US album chart on Wednesday - a first this year for an independent release.

The band's hotly anticipated second album, Sound and Color, sold 96,000 copies or equivalents in downloads and streaming in the week through Sunday, according to tracking service Nielsen.

The album becomes the first distributed by an independent label to reach the top spot on the Billboard chart since country singer Jason Aldean's Old Boots, New Dirt in October.

Alabama Shakes - based in the small town of Athens, Alabama and with little glitz in appearance - rose quickly from obscurity after a well-received performance at New York's taste-making CMJ Music Marathon in 2011.

The band is driven by frontwoman Brittany Howard, whose steely but raspy voice brings to mind male blues singers. She is also a skilled guitarist who shows the influence of garage rock.

Alabama Shakes has been touring extensively for the latest album. The band performed at the Coachella festival in California and is also scheduled to play other major dates including Glastonbury in England and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

Last week, Shawn Mendes, the Canadian teenager who rose to fame through cover songs on the video-sharing application Vine, had debuted at number one with his debut album.

The album, Handwritten, fell to number 17 in its second week.