Review: “El Camino,” The Black Keys

A year after the release of The Black Keys’ “Brothers” that received critical acclaim and three Grammy awards – best rock performance for “Tighten Up,” best alternative album and best artwork – the Akron, Ohio duo has rolled out another album.

Record Rating 7.9 of 10

“El Camino” is the group’s seventh full-length release and has already been getting some buzz, which has been helped along by a considerable media blitz.

Dan Auerbach (vocals, guitar) and Patrick Carney (drums) have been around since 2001, but they didn’t really catch hold with mainstream audiences until last year’s release, which was certainly the group’s most mainstream effort.

Throughout their career The Black Keys songs have been featured in everything from Land Rover commercials to the opening credits for several different TV shows. But even on “Brothers,” when they extended some of their melodies and slowed down some of their songs, they didn’t veer too far away from their blues-rock roots.

The same can be said for “El Camino.”

“El Camino” does boast a more energetic and upbeat pacing, evidenced in the album’s first single “Lonely Boy.” It also builds on a noticeably new element in the tracks – the inclusion of a bass guitar and keyboards, which first appeared on last year’s effort.

However, the focus of their sound remains a steady, and heavy, dose of thumping drums, big cymbal crashes and heavily distorted guitar.

The duo stuck to the three minute blues-rock song and the new album has a bit of nostalgia mixed in to fit with its cover art. The cover is a picture of the van – not an El Camino – the duo used on their first tour. But the name El Camino, the car and the album’s sound, allow the audience to reminisce about late 70’s hard rock.

The group really scores a success, and the songs that stick with me, are “Money Maker” and “Run Right Back,” where the grit and soul that cannot be manufactured and has been evident since their first release is on full display.

With the exposure the band has gotten recently, this may be the album you get sick of because you can’t get away from it (I’ve already heard their tracks on everything from the Colbert Report to SportsCenter).

But for now, it’s still a solid blues-rock album.

— Braden Lammers

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About hoosierhits
The music blog of the News and Tribune, Jeffersonville & New Albany, Ind.

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