Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Black Keys - El Camino

Before I talk about the new Black Keys album, El Camino, I need to talk about The Ramones. When The Ramones were around, the music world was filled with disco. There was a lot of popular electronic music. The world needed something that was catchy but also raw and powerful. The Ramones fit the bill. They only knew how to play one kind of song. Listen to their greatest hits and you'll see what I mean. In retrospect, they weren't great songwriters at all but they were able to provide human, catchy rock that saved the world from disco.

Fast-forward to today. Eight of the top-ten songs on iTunes are based on synthesizers and computers. Kids are listening to dubstep. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of great things in music that can be done with computers and electronics. But nothing can replace the humanity and roughness of rock. The Black Keys are what we need. They are The Ramones of today, saving us from the endless drone of robotic-tronica.

The comparison does not stop there. The Black Keys do sound a little repetitive at times. Blues-rock can only take you so far before you need to make some serious innovations and it wouldn't be a stretch to say that many of their songs sound the same. But that doesn't stop them from writing some seriously fantastic songs like "Little Black Submarines" which transitions from a slow acoustic ballad to a rolling jam. Definitely my favorite song from this album. The lead single, "Lonely Boy," is a fun pop song with an excellent guitar riff towards the end. It also has one of my favorite music videos of the year.

Producer Danger Mouse has done a great job once again. He also produced The Black Keys' last album, the very successful Brothers. The sound is tight, smooth and it plays great loud. This is the kind of album that you just leave in your car's stereo for two weeks because it makes you feel like a total badass when you listen to it while driving. It's a versatile kind of music that can fit any mood you're in. It matches your sorrow when you're upset and it makes you dance when you're happy. It can be a soundtrack to your rage and it can also improve your general level of cool when you're trying to impress someone. It's like a thermos. Hot stays hot, cool stays cool.

If you've been listening to them for years, it might be a just a tad boring. But if you're a new fan, this is the album to get. That and Rubber Factory.

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