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El Camino — The Black Keys

December 6th, 2011 by

Over the past ten years blues rock duo The Black Keys has
released seven studio albums, won three Grammy’s, and been featured in a wide
variety of movie and television soundtracks, commercials, and video games. The
duo, consisting of vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney
released their seventh album, El Camino, today.

Although El Camino’s sound is very similar to that of
previous Black Keys albums, the album nonetheless shows off the duo’s musical
and lyrical talents.

The Black Keys performed the album’s single, “Lonely Boy,”
and another track, “Gold on the Ceiling,” this past weekend on Saturday Night
Live.

Their performance of “Lonely Boy” was energetic, as the song
is full of hip-swinging guitar riffs and bass- and cymbal-heavy drums. Like
most other Black Keys songs “Lonely Boy” rocks the whole way through, from the
beginning guitar chords to the last beat of the bass drum. The catchy chorus
has Auerbach and background singers chanting, “Oh-woah-oh-oh/I got a love that
keeps me waiting/I’m a lonely boy.”

The fourth track on the album, “Little Black Submarines,” is
reminiscent of 1970s rock such as Eagles’ “Hotel California” in the beginning
of the song. When the first soft notes are played on the guitar and then joined
by Auerbach’s soulful voice, one hears the song fitting well in the background
of a movie in which a beat up Cadillac sails down a desert highway into sunset.
The song is slow, with just the guitar, vocals, a tambourine, and very little
bass drum. Until two minutes in, when the guitar becomes more vibrant, a bass
guitar joins in, and Carney starts in on his usual rhythmic beating of his drum
kit. “Little Black Submarines” is touching and a bit angsty, with lyrics
expressing a feeling of desperation.

Another great song on the album is “Nova Baby,” with bitter,
“just you wait and see,” style lyrics. The message is paired with incredibly
catchy and upbeat guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, and a little tambourine.
“Nova Baby” is very typical of The Black Keys’ style of music: songs that will
get audiences happily singing along to unhappy lyrics.

Other noteworthy tracks are “Dead and Gone” (turn the bass
up on that one), “Sister,” and the somewhat Doors-y “Stop Stop.”

The Black Keys’ sound hasn’t varied much over their ten-year
career, and unlike most artists that isn’t a setback for them. Their music is
unique enough to keep audiences intrigued; it’s blues you can dance to, rock
that tugs at your emotions.

It’s also nice to see that The Black Keys have held their
ground after the massive popularity of 2010’s Brothers. The familiarity
of El Camino is welcome in a world where artists get mainstream notice
and then their music begins to lose integrity. This album is piece of quality
music, and a testament to Auerbach’s and Carney’s immense talent.

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