Black Keys, Brothers

Posted on September 10, 2010 by

Artist: The Black Keys
Title: Brothers
Label: Nonesuch 520266
Released: May 18, 2010
Genre: Rock

Like long-time music producer Jerry Wexler used to do, the Black Keys went to Muscle Shoals to record a good portion of their third Nonesuch Records release, Brothers. That seemed to be a viable solution for Wexler. It’s been two years since the Danger Mouse produced Attack & Release, and since then, the Keys spent some time away from their parent project, with drummer Patrick Carney playing bass with a band called Drummer and Dan Auerbach releasing a solo album, Keep It Hid. Somewhere in there, they also had time to work on the Damon Dash produced Blakroc rap-rock collaboration.

My fear for this release was two-fold; first I thought it might never happen, thinking the band broke up. Second, I was afraid the reunion would not be fruitful, and just a walk-through of their past formulas.

I have little faith in fellow man. But I now have more faith in art. So, my apologies go out to Mr. Carney and Auerbach. This album shows no signs resting on their laurels, weariness or lack of creative spirit.

The album leads off with, “Everlasting Light,” somewhat of an anomaly on the record since it leads more toward glamour of T. Rex rather than the fertile black soil from which they usually dig. Plus, Auerbach has found his falsetto, a tool he also uses on the track “The Only One.”

“The Only One,” is a 70s string section away from being a Hot Chocolate cover. Auerbach’s voice almost reaches that register again on his cover of Jerry Butler’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Complete with glockenspiel, some fantastic fuzzy fills and light strings in the back – I’m thinking they’re synth-derived – it’s a lesson learned from their association with Danger Mouse.

With Danger Mouse they learned an overdub or two is allowed in the studio. Just because they’re a duo, doesn’t mean they have to be limited to two instruments. Auerbach learned that too from being on the road for his solo tour, being back by a truly underrated band, Hacienda. If the sound is attainable, go for it.

Danger Mouse does make an appearance on the disc, producing the lead single, “Tighten Up.” Starting with r&b bass line followed by whistling, the song turns into a pursuit of love and its aches and pains. The number opts for a guitar riff instead of a chorus, a bit of a twist for a number intended to be a single.

Another proof of the Danger Mouse influence is heard in “Ten Cent Pistol.” Not quite the spaghetti-western guitar sound heard on Attack & Release, but it does sound like a song that was intended for the devil-child of Marty Robbins.

The implementation of the harpsichord on “Too Afraid To Love You,” shows a maturity of experimentation brought upon by the two-year hiatus of the Keys. Once again, venturing into areas that were once probably only thought of.

On the other hand, there is no mistake that this is a Black Keys record. It is aptly titled Brothers with its genealogy shining through. You separate the brothers for a couple of years and they come back with experiences that need to be shared. And if you need a little more inspiration, send them to Muscle Shoals.

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One Response to “Black Keys, Brothers”

  1. […] The Black Keys Brothers 2. Hacienda Big Red & Barbacoa 3. Spoon […]

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