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What a year for the Black Keys! They have gone from indie blues superstars to Grammy-winning artists in such a short amount of time. It's all because of their latest project entitled "Brothers", which was released about one year ago. This is truly the album that has catapulted them into the superstars fans already knew them to be.
The album kicks off with a bang with "Everlasting Light". This is really good song that showcases the band's much more mellow side as well as Dan Auerbach's incredible ability to sing so well at a much higher pitch. One then proceeds to "Next Girl" before arriving at "Tighten Up", which is the song that really started it all for The Black Keys the release of the song and the video made for a 1-2 punch that kept audiences wanting more. It's such a simple, yet great song that speaks volumes as to what this band is really made of.
Other great songs from this album include, "Howling For You", "Sinister Kid", and "She'd Long Gone." It's apparent that the band wanted to stay close to their roots while also being able to explore new options and new sounds, such as the greater incorporation of the bass guitar as well as different percussions from Patrick's simple kit.
If you're a fan of the blues, alternative music, or are just curious, you should buy this album. The Black Keys are really a great band that has so much to offer. "Brothers" seems to be just one of the first major stepping stones along that journey.
The Black Keys are a two piece from Akron, Ohio consisting of Dan Auerbach (guitar/vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums). Brothers is the 6th album from a band just starting to get the recognition they deserve - Rolling Stone magazine features Brothers as their number 2 album of 2010.
As an existing fan, I found the latest offering to be a bit of a grower. The duo have left behind some of their grittier work and settled for a more 'produced' sound, using bass and keyboards as well as synth on several tracks, which does work for them. There's not as many riff-driven tunes like previous albums (thickfreakness good example!) which is the let down for me, but here are my favourites....
#1 Everlasting Light (3.24) - Never heard Dan's voice so high before, complements the monotone bass/drum perfectly.
#3 Tighten Up (3.31) - They released this tune on YouTube before the album was released, featuring a singing dinosaur puppet called Frank (?!). Also was the first single and has a tambourine intro, so must be good.
#4 Howlin For You (3.12) - Best song on the album for me, although the live version is much better. A mini-movie was made to accompany the song
#8 - To Afraid To Love You (3.25) - Not sure why I like this one, but I do!
Not too many to write home about, but they are all good to listen to. If this is your first experience of the keys, I'd certainly give one of their earlier albums a listen - starting with 'thickfreakness'.
'The Black Keys' are a band from Ohio comprised of Vocalist/Guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney. With only two members, they have a stripped down soulful bluesy sound which I find unique in the modern music scene. They are also one of those bands that even today I find to be hideously underrated. Their popularity is growing rather slowly and they are getting recognition on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2010 they won Best Breakthrough Video at the MTV Music Video Awards for their song 'Tighten Up' and they have won other awards too. However, it arguably demonstrates how little they are known in the music scene on the whole (or that MTV just sucks) as printed on their award was 'The Black Eyed Peas.' Luckily, The Black Keys and their fans reacted to this error with good humour (posting 'We're Super Proud of Fergie' in response to this mishap).
All I can say is that if the Black Keys are gaining a large following (which I believe they are) then people are being rather quiet about it. When I first heard the Black Keys last summer I assumed that they were one of those small rock bands that only a selective group of people had a penchant for. So I bought a ticket to go see them with my flatmate Steph that coming September. Never did I anticipate that they were actually quite so popular in my native Scotland. By November they had sold out and with a sizeable number of disappointed fans who seem to have missed the boat in terms of purchasing a ticket. The Glasgow 02 Academy was bursting at the seams with excited fans.
Admittedly, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Black Keys are another one of those indie bands who only seem to gain moderate success amongst a small band of music critics and young adults who profess to love them so they appear 'cool'. Even looking at a picture of Auerbach and Carney could lead you to assume that their audiences are made up of Gap-wearing young adults, wearing 'NHS-style' glasses, bobbing their heads nonchalantly to their 'alternative' sounds. But I'm telling you, the Black Keys are actually genuinely BRILLIANT and the album 'Brothers' which I am reviewing today shows them at their best...
*~HIGHLIGHTS OF 'BROTHERS'~*
Personally, my favourite tracks on the album are...
This song opens the album with a groove that I challenge you not to tap your toes to. This track is defined by Auerbach's soulful falsetto, which is a change from other Black Keys songs which largely feature his usual gritty deeper vocals. However it is a welcome change! This is an uplifting funky love letter of a song and I adore it!
'Next Girl' sets up the listener with a complete change of tone. We return to Auerbach's commonplace 'grittiness'. Instead of a declaration of love we've got more hard-hitting overtones of regret and perseverance, with the catchy hook of a line: 'My next girl, will be nothing like my ex-girl...' This is a mighty track with a confident swagger and tip top guitar.
I only need to hear the intro of this song to feel instantaneously cheery. Perhaps it is the charming whistling featured in the track intro (even more charming when they perform it on stage). Perhaps it's the fact that I still imagine a Jim Henson style monkey puppet when I hear it (the character from one of the first promotional videos of the song). This is a playful yet sensuous track and, in my opinion, the best track on the whole album.
*~Ten Cent Pistol~*
This is arguably the bluesy-est of song on the album, The song oozes of the blues musically and lyrically. It tells the story of a jealous woman shooting her man and his lover on account of cheating ways. You can't get any more blues than that! I love it!
*~A GARAGE ROCK MASTERPIECE~*
Although I have only mentioned four songs from the 15 track album, 'Brothers' is a masterpiece from start to finish, from the falsetto warblings of 'Everlasting Light' to their genius cover of Jerome Butler's 'Never Going to Give you Up', finishing up with the gentle down beat closing track that is 'These Days'.
Even with a more refined sound than their previous albums, the Black Keys have retained a particular rawness and rough edge. This is something reminiscent of old blues, funk and soul stars all rolled up into a garage rock style. They've got so much soul you'd almost be surprised that they are white. When you listen to the album, you feel like you are revisiting a golden age of music, of the days of Motown, old style blues and true classic rock, but at the same time their music seems very forward moving, putting a unique spin on old styles.
For anyone who feared that good rock music was on the decline I would urge you to give this album a listen. I can only agree with 'Rolling Stone' magazine when I say that 'Brothers' is one of the best albums of 2010 and one not to be missed by music fans.
Overall: All hail blues influenced garage rock - this album gets a shiny 9.5/10!
*~Thank you for reading my review :-) x~*
*~Also published on Ciao under username Renza - February 2011~*
Already being a huge fan of The Black Keys, I awaited this album with much anticipation. When it finally arrived, I was not in the least bit disappointed. Whereas many of the other 'Keys albums seem a little disjointed, one could extend this to saying that many songs could be interchangeable between albums, all 15 songs (and that's a big album, for them) belong solely to this album.
Needless to say that the single entitled "Tighten Up" blew me away when I first heard it, and still continues to have the same effect on my eardrums. This album is fantastically put together, with each song mastering the amalgamation of Rock and Blues. Not only does "Brothers" contain songs to turn-the-volume-up-on-your-stereo-and-rock-out-to, but there are few quiet gems in there, namely the track for which the album is named after and the final track, These Days, which are sure to bring a tear to your eye at some point.
Overall fantastic: all that's left is the wait until they come to tour in the UK.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Everlasting Light
2 Next Girl
3 Tighten Up
4 Howlin' For You
5 She's Long Gone
6 Black Mud
7 Only One, The
8 Too Afraid To Love You
9 Ten Cent Pistol
10 Sinister Kid
11 Go Getter
12 I'm Not The One
13 Unknown Brother
14 Never Gonna Give You Up
15 These Days