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The Black Keys - El Camino
Ten years and seven albums down the line The Black Keys latest long player strikes solid gold. Out last month El Camino has rarely left my speakers or headphones since. It's another pummeling throb of retro-blues-rock-stomp of course, but having Brian Burton (AKA Danger Mouse) back to co-produce and co-write the entire album The Keys are primed and aimed for the mainstream. I can highly recommend all the previous 6 albums, the early LP's are naturally rough and raw with grimy rhythm and blues. The last three, Magic Potion, Attack & Release and the breakthrough Brothers have been edging towards big arena domination the world over.
All El Camino's songs are written and composed by Singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer/producer Patrick Carney and Brian Burton. In contrast to some of the slower, quieter tracks from Brothers, the songs on El Camino are more uptempo and riff-driven. It has been said that during the tour for Brothers, Dan and Patrick realised that many of Brothers songs were too slow to translate to a live setting, which led them to write more uptempo material for El Camino. Carney said, "This record stemmed from that, the fact that it's easier for our songs to come across well live if they are fast. So we were just trying to make a guitar rock album that was more upbeat than anything we've ever recorded"
So we find ourselves with one hell of a heavy slab of rock here, first single Lonely boy kicks off the album in full throttle with a Duane Eddy 50's rock foundation before it absolutely bulldozes into the next track Dead and Gone with a new found fury. The sound then goes head first into this track Gold on the Ceiling, which sounds like T-Rex jamming in a dirty strip club. All glam-nasty rock and big bombastic choruses with plenty of Bolan Boogie. Little Black Submarines slows things down to a blues ballad, until two minutes in that is, then it bursts into a distorted Tom Petty-esque riff. The last three but one tracks are sure fire crowd pleasers from Hell of a Season, a big arena-rocking tune, to the shimmy shimmy pomp of Stop Stop and the standout track Nova Baby which will have the crowd singing in unison with their hands in the air.
The Black Keys are determined to reinvigorate rock’n’roll from the roots up and with El Camino they are succeeding. The best rock record of 2011 Highly Recommended.