"El Camino" by The Black Keys

The Black Keys
El Camino

Nonesuch
2011

Review

If the Black Keys maintained that "Danger Mouse" sound on Brothers with just a couple of contributions from the man himself and could create a really compelling album, imagine what they could do reunited with aka Mr. Brian Burton? What do you THINK they could do? It's really good - obviously.

So there's some recent controversial statements made by Patrick Carney (the drummer for The Black Keys) because of some comments concerning the quality of Nickleback's music. I tend to speak out against the shitty quality of commercial Hip-Hop but maybe I'm being too specific. Perhaps the malaise in the music industry has less to do with a specific genre and is really more a higher-level issue. I take more offense with commercial Hip-Hop because of the messages that are getting glamorized. Sure, Nickleback is terrible, terrible, terribly popular music. But I guess in general the stuff that gets played ad nauseam in so-called Alternative Rock radio doesn't seem so consistently terrible to me. If anything I'm happy Patrick has an antithesis image of music to rally against and can be good for artists to use as fuel for their music. I mean, think about it for a second. Rap/Rock is pretty much dead and Nickleback is more likely to be played on a Top-40 station than on a ROCK station. And Rock fans are savvy. For example, here in Los Angeles, KROQ may sin constantly by playing way too much of the same old shit day after day, but the new joints they play are usually of a pretty decent quality level (as an aside [to the already somewhat lengthy aside], I think that Star 98.7 takes a lot more risks in terms of the music that they'll play than KROQ does. KROQ's a better concert promoter, though).

But Patrick is right about what corner of Rock music his band represents: true Rock music grounded in Blues mixed with some Soul and Funk as of late thanks to Danger Mouse's (oddly Spaghetti Western-like) take on the Rock genre. In many ways the purer the Rock in terms of the musicality (there's no place for auto-tune-like compensating for talent in Rock - bad Rock is still musical it's just boring and sterile) the better. The Black Keys started out covering Blues records and carry that influence forward. What Danger Mouse gives to them is a Pop-sensibility that still manages to not dramatically change the core of their sound.

This to me is The Black Keys best album since Attack and Release and in fact, improves upon the work they did previously. I liked Brothers a lot (not sure where that review went...might have to retro review that) but this is clearly a superior album. I loved The Black Keys before they blew up (hey, not trying to be a snob about this but it's true) and for me Chulahoma is my favorite pre-Danger Mouse album by the group. But this record is my new favorite.

4.364 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Lonely Boy (03:13) 5
2. Dead and Gone (03:41) 4
3. Gold on the Ceiling (03:44) 5
4. Little Black Submarines (04:11) 5
5. Money Maker (02:57) 5
6. Run Right Back (03:17) 4
7. Sister (03:25) 4
8. Hell of a Season (03:45) 4
9. Stop Stop (03:29) 5
10. Nova Baby (03:27) 3
11. Mind Eraser (03:14) 4