Top Photo: Danny Cinch via The Black Keys Facebook Page
The death of rock and roll has been a topic of discussion in music magazines and online sites for several years now. Apparently there are a whole lot of people who demand something other than Nickelback when it comes to their rock music. But with El Camino, the Black Keys, a guitar and drums duo from Akron, Ohio have made one of the best rock records in a very long time.
At it’s heart, this is a celebration of rock and roll through the ages. El Camino offers up garage rock, blues, boogie, Motown, glam and even a bit of grunge into a fresh and seamless blast of music to get you from the gym to poker night and beyond. Have you heard most of these elements before? Absolutely. But here’s the thing – you haven’t heard them assimilated into such a cohesive and singular sound. Not even close. This is an album bursting with swagger.
“Lonely Boy” is a declaration of intent that opens the album and serves as hint of things to come. It’s an elemental blast of visceral music. “Gold On The Ceiling” reverberates with 60’s fuzz organ and Auerbach’s guitar and bass work along with a vocal mix suitable to the ocean-sized hook. “Little Black Submarines” manages to start off with the specter of misty mountain Zeppelin before breaking into a second half stuffed with flannel friendly guitar licks. There is no filler on this album.
Patrick Carney is quick to poke fun at his drumming skills, but the truth is, his work here anchors this album and provides the foundation for Auerbach’s guitar work and melodies. Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley and Broken Bells, among other projects and one of the best producers working today), who has worked with the Black Keys in the past, this time pulls from the guys performances beyond anything they’ve done to date. Dan Auerbach, in an interview in the current edition of Rolling Stone, admits that he’s only recently focused on his songwriting. If this is the sound of a band sharpening their skills, I can’t wait to hear what comes next.
Tim Johnstone is a former Virgin Records Label Rep and current award winning Music Director, Assistant Program Director, and on-air host at FMQB’s AAA station of the year markets 50+. He also writes a blog that’s a collection of the absolute best the internet has to offer. It’s a must read. And you can check it out here.