The Black Keys
El Camino


4.0
excellent

Review

by Eeyah USER (9 Reviews)
January 29th, 2012 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Black Keys deliver an album with arena ambition, but with a familiar garage sound

In my fourteen years of existence on this planet, I have never been to a professional concert with a big band on the roster. Numerous times my dad has offered to take me to see Sting or ZZ Top when I was kid, but I was an idiot back then and never accepted the offer. Come to think of it, I'm still an idiot for not jumping at the chance to go to Music Midtown earlier this year to see one of my favorite new bands, Cage The Elephant. Also on the roster was The Joy Formidable and The Black Keys. I originally discounted the Keys because I perceived them as one of those goth bands my friend liked at the time. Their name had "black" in it and meant an off-putting individual after all. Then my friends showed me "Howlin for You" and "Tighten Up" and I, like the rest of the nation, was hooked. Needless to say I bought "El Camino" the second it came out.

The album starts off with "Lonely Boy", a track that for many is the band's selling out point. Personally I like surf guitar and arena-filling chorus, but it may have been to big for the indie crowd these guys played for earlier in their career. Then comes "Dead and Gone", which features hip-hop drums and is notably slower with a more prominent bass-line that seems more at home with "Brothers" then this album. Personally I didn't like it because of just that, but still a good track overall. The album picks up again with "Gold on the Ceiling", which sounds like the depraved offspring of ZZ Top and T. Rex playing at a house party. The track features some neat tricks such as an organ, hand-claps and female backing vocals courtesy of producer Danger Mouse. Then comes my favorite track from the album "Little Black Submarines". The track starts off slow, with Dan hypnotically strumming an acoustic guitar. As per usual the track speaks of love lost as Pat slightly hits the bass drum. The song stops and then the distortion kicks in and we get an explosive performance by all involved. This track probably features some of Pat's best drumming also. We then head back into the garage with "Money Maker", which features some caveman instrumentation and voice box solo; good track. The rest of the album evidently stays in the garage while tweaking the formula time-to-time ("Sister"'s spaghetti western guitar immediately jumps to mind).

Danger Mouse is increasingly starting to look like one of the new decade's best producers and he fits with the band perfectly. Although his obsession with Morricone sound-scapes do tend to take hold a little to often, he manages to control himself for the most part. Some complain that he was invading onto the Black Key's cherished low-fidelity indie sound, but the collaboration was fruitful in the way that it seemed to expand their sound instead of distract from it. All in all, this album is a very hard rocking enjoyable effort that almost never lets you catch your breath. Check it out.



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user ratings (804)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
Rudy K. STAFF (3.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
newjunkaesthetic93
January 29th 2012


1871 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can't believe this only had one review. They're coming to my town in April with the Arctic Monkeys and i got ticket.


demigod!
January 29th 2012


45286 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

anyone else think little black submarines sounds suspiciously like stairway to heaven

Digging: Black Sabbath - Master of Reality

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 30th 2012


3521 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

what? only a 4 rating ? we're not brothers anymore

Digging: Stonebride - Heavy Envelope

omnipanzer
January 30th 2012


21661 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

4 is correct imo.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
January 30th 2012


21710 Comments


Lonely Boy rocks.

Digging: Foxes in Fiction - Ontario Gothic

omnipanzer
January 30th 2012


21661 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Whole album rocks but not their best.

newjunkaesthetic93
January 30th 2012


1871 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"anyone else think little black submarines sounds suspiciously like stairway to heaven?"

That's what I've thought since the first time I heard it. It's my least favorite on the album though so i don't really care.

PHATJ
February 2nd 2012


21 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album was my introduction to The Black Keys and I LOVE this album. It's a top 3 of 2011 for sure. I have since purchased a couple other Black Keys CDs and will be diving into them as soon as I can bring myself to listen to something other then El Camino.

Jethro42
April 9th 2012


12666 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Which one I better get first, this or Brothers?

johnnyblaze
April 9th 2012


2637 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the big come up

greg84
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2012


7474 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is way better than Brothers. Rubber Factory is their best imo.

Digging: Clipping - CLPPNG

johnnyblaze
April 9th 2012


2637 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the big come up

Jethro42
April 9th 2012


12666 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Aight then. I'll start off with their discog, then I'll see =P

johnnyblaze
April 9th 2012


2637 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

rubber factory rules. this record is growing on me prety hard right now.

TheSonomaDude
August 13th 2014


476 Comments


I always thought it was funny that album is called El Camino, yet the vehicle on the cover is Plymouth Voyager.



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