The Black Keys
Released: May 18, 2010
Label: Nonesuch Records
By: Nicholas Medina
Once dismissed in the wake of other garage rock revival bands such as The White Stripes or The Kills, The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach (vocals/guitar) and Patrick Carney (drums) are continuing strong with the release of their newest album, BROTHERS. After a 2 year period of side and solo projects by the duo, these Akron, Ohio natives prove to be remarkably durable with their 1st album in 2 years and 6th album to date. In what is perhaps their most lyrically deep and tightest album since 2004's Rubber Factory, Brothers made its debut at #3 on the Billboard Top 200 bringing with it the same fascination with sound and texture that had taken hold much like 2008's Attack and Release. Their collaboration with music architect Danger Mouse on Attack and Release was by far their most sonically diverse album to date but it tended to stray away from their past primal blues influences. Brothers brings the same diversity, only this time they climb back to their blues-rock roots and have produced the album themselves, as many may find just by engaging the title of the album. Being that their sound has been influenced by a skuzzy raw take on blues from artists such as Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside, Brothers provides an onslaught of sweaty and scratchy blues-guitar riffs, heavy drum pounding, and textured grooves that are as thick as molasses.
Highlight tracks include "Next Girl", "Tighten Up", and "Ten Cent Pistol". Although some fans may be disappointed by the tamer R&B influenced tracks such as "The Only One" and "Too Afraid To Love You", many are sure to find a certain psychedelic and experimental approach is incorporated in them that highlights the duo's progression after working with Danger Mouse. The album also features a new vocal style from Auerbach including the track "Never Gonna Give You Up", a cover by Motown's Jerry Butler, in which Auerbach reaches high pitches with wonderful tone and perfect control. Most of Brothers is absolutely insatiable to the ears. The only painful downside may be its length, around an hour worth of music and the last few tracks seem stuffed in. Brothers may not blow you away but it's good, and if they can build on it and progress even further, their next stuff is sure to add more success and miles for their blues-rock machine.
Released: December 6, 2011
Review by: Kaitlyn Stone
Released in December, El Camino is The Black Keys seventh album, and maybe even their best. Their last album, Brothers, was great and won 3 Grammys, but El Camino is definitely a strong follow up to the album. The first single off of Brothers was Tighten Up, and it was their best single yet. It was the only song off of the album to be produced by Danger Mouse. This time around, Danger Mouse has produced the entire El Camino album. Smart move. The band has found the perfect balance between rock, blues, R&B, country, and soul. Drawing from influences such as The Clash, The Beatles, Led Zepplin, and The Ramones, the band has created an album that just makes you want to rock out. You can’t help but enjoy every last beat of the album.
The album addresses every emotion: love, lust, greed, loss, etc. Lonely Boy was the first single to be released off the new album. It has a garage/blues rock sound to it, with a riff that The Keys claim was inspired by Johnny Burnette’s cover of Train Kept A Rollin. In March, The Black Keys will kick off their tour in Cinicinnati, Ohio with Arctic Monkeys by their side. They’ll make a stop in Austin at The Frank Erwin Center April 25th and these are two bands that I highly recommend seeing.