‘Brothers’ – The Black Keys.
What Was: The likes of James Brown, Marvin Gaye, John Lee Hooker, The Commodores and Stevie Wonder are now but a mere twinkle in the eye of history; loved but left alone.
What Is: The Black Keys however, have managed to bring back original motown, funk and blues. Slapp bass Style. I wouldn’t classify The Black Keys as purely ‘motown’, but they do present a musical element common to most of the old jams.
Having originated in Akron, Ohio USA, The Black Keys’ more down-tempo ‘soul’ music suggests that they would however be familiar with a downtown ‘Concrete City’ winters night. It’s deep, focused and smooth. On the brighter side, The Keys also squeeze out a juicy funk full of colour and vitality.
It seems impossible for me to find new words to descibe another great band, but these guys are trully awesome. They have managed to create their own sound from an almost forgotten art. Their genre isn’t one specifc category, but many; motown, rock, blues, soul and small flecks of jazz.
The Black Keys have a sincere flare about them; in physicality, the duo would appear somewhat nerdy – geeky even. However, their inner appearance could be more aliked to that of – and please visualise; a heavy, dark skinned man wearing shades and standing under a spotlight atop a stage wreathed in cigar smoke, singing his soul driftly into a mic pressed firmly against his mouth. Poetic I know, but not short of actuality and sound in the slightest.
The song i am listening to right now, ‘These Days’, is slow, gentle, calm and relaxed. The composition of this song is extraordinary. To depict how this has been achieved – (and to be mildly technical and old-school) defying most norms, The keys have decided to build the composition up; by adding more layers and sounds to create a ‘slow, icy’ factor. A lot of music circulating these days is a stereotype of thin, empty, barron sounding pizzacato; aka – boring. Instead, The Keys use many instruments, but each sparingly and with precision, so it’s an absolute pleasure to listen to.
One of my favourite songs on this album is ‘Everlasting Light’. It has this sexy, steady beat and is whipped and frosted with a groovy melody. Dan (the vocalist) rips it up with a high-pitched tremmed line that finishes the song perfectly. It’s magnificent, and definately worth a listen.
There is a lot of variety on this album, which makes it easy listening. It’s also sequenced very well, which again means that it’s not too full on or sleep-theraputic. The Keys have managed to keep their good reputation with the production of their more up-beat songs like; ‘Tighten Up’, ‘Howlin’ for you’, ‘Everlasting Light’, ‘Sinister Kid’ and ‘The Only One’. There is a lot of divergence in these songs too – sometimes you can get bands that just record different renditions of the same song (EG: Gnarls Barkley, The Potbelleez, Jebediah etc), but The Keys record each song ‘separatley’, and forgetting the sound and procedure of every other.
It is a comfort to know that I have The Black Keys to fall back on. When in doubt: The Black Keys. They use a raw and twisted sounding guitar, so that every one of their songs has a certain ‘freshness’ about it. The Keys really know how to bend their effects pedals into shape too; or it may just be that they spend too much time in the studio mucking around with the production. Either way.
Think of James Brown crossed with Jimi Hendrix – this is The Black Keys.
However, I have found that whilst my default ‘tantra’ has been The Black Keys for the past month or so, you do need to take a break – otherwise they do grow a little tiresome to hear. I guess all things in moderation right? An addiction to music should not be taken lightly; and on par with this, nor should one sweet strawberry crush on a particular band / artist. Let’s not be too greedy…
There really is nothing around these days like The Black Keys. They are such a breath of fresh air when you compare them to all the mainstream crap floating around in the public septic system of current frequencies. Yay for The Keys. It’s a nice ‘warm apple pie’ feeling to know that there is a decent music scene out there in the world… somewhere… in the world… just not here. I’ll have my day… one day…
Overall, I would like to stamp this album with THREE STARS. Its an interesting and ‘refreshing’ listen – worth the pennies. Please give it a go… for me?