Thursday, January 12, 2012

The New Black Keys Album is Lousy

Here is how The Black Keys have gone for me. 

In like 2004, Chuck and I saw them at the old Sokol Underground here in Omaha.  It was a tiny venue.  They played their instruments really loudly.  My ears rang for like 5 days after.  It was probably the loudest show I have ever attended.  But it was also a little repeptitive, and I don't remember wanting to buy an album afterwards.

Then I didn't listen to them for a really long time. 

Fast forward.  My co-worker Erin told me their show at the fancy new Slowdown was sold out in 2009.  I was shocked.  I had no idea they were so well-loved.  So I got that album.  Attack and Release.  I liked the first song and a few others.  But I couldn't listen to the album beginning to end, because it was too repetitive. 

Then Dan Aurbach put out a solo album which was supposed to let him do stuff that was outside the confines of The Black Keys.  The first song sounded exactly like The Black Keys, so I figured I didn't need any more of that. 

2010 brought Brothers.  Finally an album for Brent.  Extra instruments.  Extra parts.  More variety.  Terrific.  I saw them again that year.  But this time it was outside, and I know this is going to sound crazy, but I felt like they were kind of channeling early Elvis Presley that night.  Which I'm pretty sure was almost entirely because I was reading "Last Train to Memphis," Peter Guralnick's biography about Presley's early career.  Either way, it felt otherworldly, in the way I think of early Elvis. 

So I thought maybe The Black Keys and Brent were finally getting it together.  Chelsey liked the singer, I liked the drummer, so if we decided to double-team them, there would be no quibbling. 

And then they put out this piece of crap called El Camino.  I didn't really listen to it that much last year.  It came out late, and I was trying to listen to a bunch of other music by the end of the year.  But it really doesn't bear additional listening.  It's just bad.  Repetitive as all hell, and for some reason they've added female backup vocals. 

Let this be a lesson for all of you.  Alterna-blues rehash is only going to get you so far.  Even if you are pretty good at it.  But female backup singers are always a bad move.  Always.

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