The Black Keys – El Camino


By Kristina Charania

The Black Keys’ seventh coming makes bluesy garage-rock even classier

Here’s a funny tidbit: the car on the front cover of El Camino is, well, not an El Camino. Even better? The band cites their choice of title simply: it sounded cool. C’mon. You’ve got to be a bit badass to pull that one off.

Indeed, The Black Keys’ new production is pretty badass. It builds upon the foundations of its Grammy-winning precursor Brothers by continuing to minimize the Pro Tools and maximize the 50’s recording equipment. The difference lies in the new album’s stylistic simplicity: one step away from bluesy-rock, and one towards legit rock ‘n’ roll. Add classic influences like the Rolling Stones, T.Rex, and The Cramps, and you have the duo producing an authentic and organic gem in an age of auto-tune.

“Lonely Boy”, the first single, is a catchy tune that would be perfectly at home at a late-‘60s discotheque crashed by a very heroin-wheedled Jim Morrison. The nearly scornful attitude (“Well your mama kept you, but your daddy left you/ And I should’ve done you just the same”) is infectious; keep your exes in mind for that one, folks. Another highlight is “Money Maker” — raunchy in all-true rock style through a hypothetical kick in the tenders by that really hot and really unaffordable prostitute that may account for some of that unruly racket you make alone in your sleep.

An emotional highpoint is reached on “Little Black Submarines”, which starts out with fragile vocals and acoustic guitar. Upon assuring you that it is a folksy blues tune for overseas marines and beat-up Yamahas, it fires up for round two of Dan Auerbach’s ripping guitar riffs and an equally thunderous Patrick Carney on drums.

In short, El Camino packs more punch than any other Black Keys recording despite containing a few filler tracks (“Nova Baby” is a suitable bonus track). Regardless, it’s still a must-have for English rock band enthusiasts and alternative rock fans alike. This is the moment where you put this paper down for five minutes and open up your iTunes.

Right now. I’m serious.