7 The Black Keys - El Camino

It's pretty cool these days when a band can find the time to put out albums in consecutive years. It used to happen a lot more. The Black Keys follow last year's Brothers with a more energetic gallop in El Camino. Danger Mouse goes along for the entire ride this time (last year, he only produced the single, "Tighten Up") and his thick, booming production style shows in almost every song. The Keys chase several different genres through the eleven tracks, from stomping blues to vintage rock to borderline dance music. Most of the songs feature the guitar-bass-keys combo the Keys have been favoring at their live shows.

So, if you were hoping for the Black Keys of old, this isn't. It seems Dan and Pat want to push on for even bigger success than they achieved with Brothers, and there are several tunes on here that could easily be singles. Slick and thick production, however, doesn't hide the fact that Dan Auerbach is a bonafide genius of big riffs, and he's the clear star here. The single, 'Lonely Boy', will stay in your head all day, and keep you flipping the record back over (or if you must, hit repeat). On a side note, it was released as a reverse groove 12" single on Black Friday. Pretty unique. The "quiet" moment," Little Black Submarines," is quite a song. Part Zeppelin, part Jethro Tull, part Heartbreakers starts slow and then gets loud and fierce. One of the album's high points, and you'll repeat it at least once.

Before you get confused about the cover shot, El Camino, means 'the journey', or 'the road', and the Chrysler on the cover was their first tour van. Although they apparently entered the studio with nothing, it doesn't sound rushed. The sequencing seems pretty natural, which was a complaint I've heard about Brothers; that its sequencing kind of petered out (I disagree, but whatever!). The Black Keys keep on keeping on, and in true rock and roll tradition, give us yet another gem this year.

Download: "Lonely Boy" - "Little Black Submarines" - "Nova Baby"