The Black Keys: El Camino (Nonesuch) 

After the ear-opening artistic breakthrough of Attack and Release (2008) and last year's commercial success with the Grammy-winning Brothers, it wouldn't have been surprising if this primal-rock duo from Akron, Ohio, had slumped and slacked a bit. Ain't gonna happen: Drummer Patrick Carney and guitarist-singer Dan Auerbach seem to be pushing the envelope more than ever on this, their sterling seventh album.

Produced by Danger Mouse (returning after guiding the band on Attack and Release), El Camino finds Carney and Auerbach coaxing their gritty blues-rock toward a more-soulful vein without abandoning their rock 'n' roll bedrock, which here tips its hat to Nuggets-era British acts. The big-beat "Dead and Gone" sounds like Philly soul played in the neighborhood garage, while "Money Maker" is a fuzzed-out R&B rave-up that, in a perfect situation, would have listeners strutting around living rooms and discos worldwide. "Stop Stop" could be a tune from a lost movie soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield or Isaac Hayes with the addition of psychedelic electric guitars. And "Nova Baby" is a catchy strain of mod-soul.

But The Black Keys aren't content with one style. On this disc, several tunes offer grimy blues-glam-riffing, exercising a kind of a pre-punk formalism. And "Little Black Submarines" is simply amazing—it starts off sounding like an acoustic hippie-folk ballad à la Traffic, then transforms midway into a Led Zep-style stomp. For those who miss the intensity of The Black Keys' early albums, "Hell of a Season" re-creates the frenzied roots music for which the band has become known.

Sweet ride.

More by Gene Armstrong

  • Primer

    Tony Furtado
    • May 29, 2014
  • Wills Meets Reinhardt

    L.A.'s Cow Bop blends bebop and Western swing into a superbly danceable combo
    • May 22, 2014
  • Finding (the Eighth) Mr. Right

    Superb performances drive the '60s satire of Live Theatre Workshop's Loot
    • May 15, 2014
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Rhythm & Views

  • Rhythm & Views

    American Monoxide “In Flight Mode” (People In A Position To Know)
    • Dec 18, 2014
  • Rhythm & Views

    Wight Lhite “Beyond the Satellites” (Paisley Shirt Records)
    • Dec 11, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Don't Forget the Coop

    Interview with Alice Cooper
    • Jun 15, 2017
  • Battle Acts: Sgt. Pepper Then vs. Sgt. Pepper Now

    We have no Summer of Love to ponder, no Vietnam War to protest, no miracle drug that's going to save us. But we do have an unpopular president and Sgt. Pepper to marvel over all over again. It's not the same, but it kinda is, and that's about the best splendid time that can be guaranteed for all in 2017.
    • Jun 8, 2017
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation