Music Mondays - The Black Keys

They're not indie.  They're not from Victoria... or even Canada.  And the release is not entirely recent, even.  But it's still one of those albums I absolutely have to blog about.  Why?  Because it's so jaw-droppingly awesome.

Seriously, when I first heard this album on a good pair of headphones, I think the only reaction I was able to muster was to grab a cloth and wipe the drool that was dribbling down my chin.  It is, after all, very unbecoming to drool while listening to a band.  It's just as bad to be coming while listening to a band. 

Or something like that.  It sounded a lot funnier in my head.  Sue me. 

Recently, I picked up the Black Keys' Brothers and promptly proceeded to call it "a good fusion of electric blues, 1960s R&B and Soul, and modern folk, with a heavy dose of late era stoner rock thrown in for good measure".  And that's a statement I stand behind.  Or at least beside.  Or maybe in front of.  Look, I'm not too sure about positioning, but let's just say we're both in the same photograph, saying "cheese". 

The Black Keys have this great rock sound to them that definitely has some echoes of the past.  They're often called a blues band, and it's true that they definitely have a blues side to them.  But it's blues reimagined and repackaged for the modern audience - there are no blues guitar soloes, no wailing cries for mercy, and no crystal-clear guitar lines.  They are a blues band that has fully embraced muddy distortion, modern sensibilities, and are more than willing to experiment with new instruments and sounds.  And while there are a lot of pseudo blues bands out there ran entirely by white dudes (I'm looking at you, John Mayer and The White Stripes), these guys do the whole blues-rock thing a helluva lot more authentically.

I mean, Robert Plant is a fan.  Robert fucking Plant.  He of the voice.  You know... this guy? 

I've been loving "the Keys" since the first time I heard their album Attack and Release, an occasionally folky, occasionally rocky album that was on constant rotation in my house for a good three months.  And the band just keeps getting better and better.  Brothers starts off with a bouncing, rhythmic bass line that has a good touch of distortion on it - something reminiscent of early Queens of the Stone Age.  But the soul-like vocals layered on top bring this album into a whole new range.

This is popular music that we don't get to hear very often - popular music that is actually good.  It is deep, layered, and a shout-out to all of those great R&B acts that have come before.  "Tighten Up" reminds me of those great bands like Rare Earth (and has an awesome music video, holy crap), while "Howlin' For You" reminds me of that anthemic Gary Glitter song, only with, y'know, far less Paedophilia.  And "I'm not the one" is a classic blues song given an entirely new spin that defies explanation - it reminds me of my absolute favourite B.B. King song, and that's high praise indeed. 

So there. 

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