A crossroads for the keysDec 11, 2011
By classic rock fan Their are quickly turning into two types of keys fans,Pre and post danger mouse fans, are you a thickfreakness/rubberfactory or attack and release/brothers fan. This new album El camino cements danger mouses influence with high production and backup singers etc. This is not in any way a bad record,it has great energy,power and the keys have never sounded tighter as far as playing and vocals.
You just have to ask yourself, how light do you want your black keys ?
If you came in with the danger mouse records you'll have no problems,if your a fan of the original sound of the black keys i suggest you do some pre listening before you buy this album. Once again I state this is in no way a bad album,its fantastic,but how you like your keys is gonna determine how much you dig this record.
89 of 107 found the following review helpful:
Old sound, New sound, meh.Dec 27, 2011
By DanDevNull I must be a freak of nature because I've been following the Keys for years and I've enjoyed every album without exception. People who call themselves purists and are missing the "old" sound are just confused about what makes these guys so great. Ever developing and stretching what's possible. Each album is it's own life, don't judge one album by another. That's like a parent judging one kid by another; just wrong. If you want a bunch of "thickfreakness" or "rubber factory" then you shouldn't have ever bought another keys album after those ones. Plain and simple. This album is as solid as any other, take it for what it is; not for what it isn't.
129 of 165 found the following review helpful:
Sure to be a hit, just not for me.Dec 07, 2011
By Johnny Trouble Just to preface, I've been a big supporter of The Black Keys for nearly 10 years. I religiously buy all their albums and have seen them play on every tour since 'Thickfreakness'. My favorites are their older albums but, with that said, I know every artist has to grow and evolve their sound somewhat lest it become stale. I have no problem with that. In fact, I really liked the direction that their last disc, 'Brothers', appeared to be headed in: in addition to their stalwart blues, they were incorporating soul and R&B. I was very excited to get this album and have given it several listens and a few days to really sink in. In lieu of the soul and gritty blues, they've replaced it with pop and overproduction. It just seems very repetitive and would probably be good as background music at a party. It's not bad and acts as a good, safe offering to people who aren't familiar with The Black Keys, but it sounds like they're playing it safe here. In light of the garbage that the music industry is trying to pawn off on us, this disc has most everything else beat nowadays. But compared with the rest of their catalog, I think this is the Keys weakest offering and will likely get the least airplay on my stereo.
57 of 75 found the following review helpful:
Keys in the IgnitionDec 06, 2011
By Rachel The Black Keys constituents Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney's previous offering--"Brothers"--was their first conventional success, despite the fact that it had some noticeable weaknesses. Namely, it featured a large number of ballads and underwhelming up-tempo tracks, which were a huge contrast to the contents of the album's most endeared, hard-hitting predecessors, "Thickfreakness" and "Rubber Factory." Now, the Black Keys are back to fill a gaping void in the Alternative Rock scene. They have approached the project with much needed innovation and a revamped sound, in order to create something more than a sequel to their prior commercial success. This venture is marked by a fearless attempt to capture listeners by muscling full speed through perilous terrain, and it reaches its mark without once losing momentum--or a sense of humor.
Auerbach and Carney were taking a risk by returning to the formula of the excessively produced "Attack & Release" and their biggest commercial single yet, "Tighten Up," from "Brothers," by once again teaming up with Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton--this time, allowing him full participation in the creative process. His fingerprints are prominent all over this release, but that--in and of itself--is not necessarily a bad thing. Have no fear--The Black Keys have not been recreated in the Gnarls Barkley image, and this is not, yet another spaghetti western for which Burton has such a glaring affinity. In fact, there is very little semblance to any of Burton's other projects. Instead, the end result is simply a more polished and accessible sound that still holds true to the band's character, with only the slightest hint of artistic surrender. The Black Keys began a gradual progression toward this style with their last few albums, so it seems like a natural development. What prevents the mishaps of years past is the band's increased awareness of what works and what will inevitably fall flat.
Despite notable changes, the Black Keys of yesteryear are certainly recognizable in this compilation. There is the all-familiar hand clapping, foot stomping, and pounding bass set to a scenery of rough, fuzzy guitar licks. With "Little Black Submarines" they begin with a ballad-style intro that lacks the distracting falsetto that was oh-so-prominent in "Brothers," and halfway through, they turn it full throttle. The transition from haunting splendor to gripping intensity makes a gut-twisting impact that will leave fans salivating for the first opportunity to witness a live performance of this singular track. In "Gold on the Ceiling," the guys add some luster and opulence that breaks through the nebulous front. As a whole, the tracks are caffeinated diatribes about deceitful women, stolen money, and the like. Although there is some carryover of lyrical vulnerabilities and the overdone themes of their past works, the music's stylistically rich and witty peculiarities are all-encompassing, which protects the material from being unduly compromised.
While fans of the band's earlier works might be irritated by the continued trend away from their frenzied, raw energy roots, El Camino is not a far cry from their origins. Carney returns from the watered down percussion that characterized the "Brothers" interval to his trademark assaults of his drum kit, and Auerbach reinstitutes his more coarse and rousing vocal approach. While it is a more mature and smooth sound, it is punched full of the requisite edginess, distortion, and oddball antics. Amidst the dark and broody mood are some heavy rhythms and thumping beats--thanks to the repeat collaboration with Danger Mouse--that culminates into a much more compelling and momentous successor to the vaguely bland, yet highly recognized, "Brothers." There is a sense of cinematic peril and waywardness that is incongruously alluring, and the temptation to ride shotgun through this adventure is palpable.
5 of 5 found the following review helpful:
The Black Keys - Magnificent sevenDec 06, 2011
By Red on Black It's a Black Keys album and you pretty much know what your going to get. This is the seventh outing from the great Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach. They work in what is a somewhat restricted musical seam yet they seem to manage to squeeze every ounce of funky blues and soul base metal from its core and add their own little discoveries. It all adds up to a quality product but one in "El Camino" which adds a bit more grease and motor oil to the usual mix. The result is the creation of what is one of their best hard rocking blues barrages in sometime which does offer contrast to the more laidback "Brothers" album. Equally the bands honorary third member Dangermouse (Brian Joseph Burton) is at the control desk again and has decided to place a welcome emphasis on the pop hooks in these 11 great songs and for once the bass player gets a proper look in.
It all kicks off with two thumpers the overpowering "Lonely boy" and the brilliant "Dead and gone". It all sounds effortless with the former containing a killer sing-along chorus and a pounding fuzzy riff while the latter contains .......ahem, a killer sing-along chorus and pounding fuzzy riff! A great start and the foot is barely taken off the gas with the glam rock of "Gold on the ceiling" which you can almost visualise the great Marc Bolan singing in the heyday of T Rex. The pace cools for the initially acoustic "Little black submarines" gently sung by Auerbach but breaks out into a massive electric beast halfway through with a riff that does echo Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's last dance". It's a real standout track and followed by keepers like "Money maker" and the funky "Run right back". The track "Sister" sounds like one of those classic tracks built for FM rock radio which you imagine that Paul Rodgers could happily cover. It could easily be a single although there is plenty of competition, while the soulful "Hell of a season" might just be the best track on the album. The final three tracks are the "Stop Stop" a sort of mix of Stax soul and garage rock, the incredibly commercial belter that is "Nova Baby" where Auerbach blues-tinged vocals are at their absolute best and the concluding song "Mind eraser" which would have happily sat on "Attack and release".
Granted there is little new ground broken here and "El Camino" is a not a demanding listen. You could also argue that the explorations and R&B excursions of "Brothers" have been firmly contained in a framework which represents a souped up version of their earlier work. But whose complaining? It's the Black Keys offering up a great rock album sardine packed with top notch songs. After a number of listens "El Camino" reveals itself as a fresh, exhilarating and occasionally an almost glam rock orientated album from a band which has proved one of the most enduring of its generation while many of their contemporaries have fallen by the waste side or hysterically imploded. For a band that was often brutally criticized for being the "White Stripes lite" there must be real satisfaction in their ongoing achievement and a modest level of gloating is completely in order.
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