The Black Keys – El Camino
December 7, 2011
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I’ve felt a little aggrieved ever since The Black Keys pulled out of their Australian tour earlier this year. If we accept ‘exhaustion’ (read appearing at the Grammys) as a valid reason it becomes quite impressive to see that they managed to record and release their latest album El Camino in the time since their cancellation. Since 2008, the duo have released an album a year including two other Black Keys’ releases (Brothers and Attack & Release) and their rap rock collaboration project (Blakroc). Maybe they were exhausted and didn’t just have an awards ceremony to attend.
Marketing for El Camino has not taken the typical route. Initially starting with an ad in a local Newspaper for a 1994 El Camino with a description;
“Priced to sell –
Grab the Keys and go!
Contact Pat or Dan at
The band followed up with a method that will become increasingly popular, a Youtube video to go viral to support the release, this time a spoof ad of a car dealer trying to sell the van, starring Bob Odenkirk. In the last week, the El Camino snaked its way along the east-coast of Australia on a listening tour. But does El Camino make up for the lack of a Brothers’ tour?
El Camino is a different beast to its predecessor. It’s not quite as concentrated on the blues rock that drove Brothers, rather relying on classic 60s grooves to motivate. Lead single Lonely Boy has been dominating the airwaves for the last couple of weeks, and is one of the more dance tracks on the album (just watch the film clip) It’s the kind of song that you could see Uma Thurman and John Travolta dancing to in Pulp Fiction, such is the groove on the track.
One of my favourite tracks on the album is Little Black Submarines. Starting off as a brooding anthem about a broken heart, the song picks up at the halfway mark pushing more into the spaghetti western concept that The Black Keys pull of so admirably. With a driving guitar riff, Gold on the Ceiling takes a different approach. With female backing vocals through the chorus, it’s one of the more sing-long songs on the album.
In their earlier years, The Black Keys were solely a duo, but as time passed they’ve gradually added more instruments to their albums. Add in the amazing Danger Mouse who produced the album, and you get a different sound to a lot of their early work. After winning the Grammy for Brothers earlier this year, I would not be at all surprised if El Camino does the same in 2013.