Artist: The Black Keys
Album: El Camino (Released 12/6/11)
For a band that was supposed to be blues-rock all I really got from this was a nice dosage of rock nostalgia and not a hit of blues…
This Billboard review had me thinking twice about this album’s blues edge I figured they would have.
After reading Rolling Stone’s review, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the Led Zeppelin reference or John Bonham mention. They mention that the song Little Black Submarines is an acoustic blues song, and about halfway through the electric guitar riffs you can hear Led Zeppelin in it. I will agree that it does sound about Zeppelin-ish to me, but with what sounds like female vocals in the background I really reminded me more of The Rolling Stone’s Gimme Shelter.
For a band that is of a blues-rock genre, I really didn’t feel too much blues in the album. That could just be me and not being able to detect it, even though rock-and-roll is derived from blues music, I just don’t hear it. It sounds like a mesh between the old 80’s classic rock bands, and those same bands if they were much… happier with more synthesizer action. If you listen to their album Magic Potion you can hear the blues so much more, especially in Just A Little Heart, in that album it sounds closer to older rock-and-roll than it does now.
Overall I enjoyed the album. There isn’t a song there that I can definitively say that I hate and would not listen to again. It’s one of those pieces where everything sounds good. Just because everything sounds good though, doesn’t mean that it’s flawless. While listening to this album straight through, with the exception of pauses it’s hard to tell where songs start and end. After several tries at listening to the album straight through, all the songs start to sound very similar. Which they do, they repeat the act of clapping in their songs which makes you wonder if they’re losing their creative edge. It’s understandable to be repeating techniques in an album, or in any several songs because it’s just two people in this band; but the songs all do start to sound the same after a while.
Rolling Stone also managed to answer that question I had about the minivan on the album cover, apparently it resembles their first touring van. This is wonderful news to me, it was driving me crazy because I’m well aware of what a Camino looks like, so that van being there just threw off all of my thoughts as to what that car looked like.
This also serves to explain the album choice, the title, and the album.
I think that is a definite must read, mostly for the funny story as to why their first touring vehicle (that suspicious serial killer minivan) smells like pee. That’s a story to tell the grandchildren for sure.
Since ‘El Camino’ means “the road or the path” in Spanish, this album title is really relating to the long journey this very talented duo took in their road to success. It depicts the early struggles of the band, especially in a pee-soaked minivan (I really can’t get over that, it’s so funny).
Also you find out that these guys really love their old classic cars, so if this album does nothing for you, if it really doesn’t spark any interest, check out Carney and Auberbach, because based on their interview they seem like pretty cool, easy-going dudes. Plus, they have funny stories to tell, at least check out what they have to say.
I do enjoy this artist very much now, I’m going to have to check out their album Magic Potion again in its entirety. The Black Keys are a good band to listen to when you want something modern to remind you of the past.