Sunday, 8 January 2012

Review: The Black Keys - El Camino

 Probably one of the most major pieces of music released late last year that I never managed to catch, El Camino, the seventh album from blues rock duo The Black Keys has received an overwhelmingly positive response, appearing in best albums of the year lists from Rolling Stone and Kerrang! and doing phenomenally well in album charts. As of late, rock albums that have done well in a charts have not really been something that I've been particularly keen on but thankfully, this time an exception has been provided. When listening to El Camino, it's easy to get behind the massive hype of this album.

 It's a thankful sight to see a group as unique sounding and effortlessly brilliant as The Black Keys make it as successful in a mainstream sense as they have at a time when a lot of major mainstream rock music has, frankly gone to shit and consequently lost much relevance to the general public. Of course such an event of mainstream rock being hit has been perfectly highlighted in a somewhat controversial and truthful statement drummer Patrick Carney told Rolling Stone this week. In the magazine's first issue of 2012, Carney stated:
 "Rock & Roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world. So they became okay with the idea that the biggest rock band in the world is always going to be shit - therefore you should never try to be the biggest band in the world. Fuck that! Rock & Roll is the music I feel mot passionately about and I don't like to see it fucking ruined and spoon-fed down our throats in this watered-down post-grunge crap, horrendous shit."
 There is a truth in what Carney has to say here. The biggest rock bands out there right now are watered down grunge acts that have made music crafted for radio play like Nickelback and Daughtry. (Believe me, I have proof of this. You should see the ROARF stats section. Everyone wants to read my reviews for those bands as opposed to say, Turbowolf or Black Spiders.) But seeing the amount of respect and success that Carney and fellow bandmate Dan Auerbach are gaining is perhaps showing that mainstream popularity can be given to actual good acts because El Camino is genuinely fantastic.
 Every track carries with it the rock and roll attitude and The Rolling Stones effortlessly being it in the swaggering blues rock sound of Lonely Boy or the heavy and raw Money Maker. The bouncy drumbeats of Sister and rhythm sections of Nova Baby give the album a more danceable quality whilst songs like Hell of a Season and the acoustic Little Black Submarines reveal a more chilling emotional quality as Auerbach's vocals show a characteristic of melancholy and vulnerability within The Black Keys.
 Most impressive is the constant manner in which the spiky raw and rough hard rock with an array of riffing reminiscent to The Stones, The Doors and Led Zeppelin is brought together with the shimmering and grandiose production from legendary alternative music producer Danger Mouse which comes together with the rough rock and roll to stunning effect and giving the music more of a ragged diamond style to it.
 So, taking an influence from the very best classic rock bands that still manage to charm millions today and from some of the best contemporary alternative rock scenes of today El Camino presents listeners with an array of fun, gripping, laid back songs built of of very pure rock & roll which manages to charm and entrance with ease. Patrick Carney seems confident in his belief that rock and roll is dying but if he and his fellow bandmate can make it this big with music this good, he may well have to reconsider his words a little bit.

 The Black Keys' El Camino is out now via Nonesuch. The band will tour the UK in February with Band of Skulls.

No comments:

Post a Comment