Shredding 6 Strings

The Black Keys: Brothers

Where did the driving, heavy electric guitar riffs of the 70s go? Where are Jimi’s pervasive, explosive solos? What happened to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s bluesy rhythmic masterpieces? Well don’t look now but a revival is afoot and The Black Keys with instruments ablaze will take you back to when rock really, well … rocked.

The album Brothers hits like a sledgehammer from the beginning. This two man band’s music will wash over you like spring’s ocean waves and refresh your memory of what rock music is supposed to sound like. On the first track “Everlasting Light,” Dan Auerbach belts an almost Prince-esque falsetto melody while drummer Patrick Carney pounds the bass drum relentlessly, keeping the forceful beat.  A simple, yet powerful riff oozes from Auerbach’s guitar and hits like something from The Doors debut album.

There are clearly elements of early, more blues-like rock, which adds to the cool, laid back feel of the album. The drumming and guitar playing on the track “Howling for You” sounds similar to The Trogg’s “Wild Thing,” and Auerbach adds a chorus that is just as catchy as the famous one-hit wonder.

Towards the middle of the album the mood changes to a more eerie and haunting sound, oddly familiar but spooky none the less. It’s like walking into your favorite dinner late on Halloween night, the setting is commonplace, yet when the door slams closed behind you, the ghoulish eyes become fixed and they add a new dimension to your beloved breakfast haven. Auerbach’s mystical licks mirror the sorrowful contemplation and longing of his lyrics.

The last few songs on the record head toward a slower paced slickness saturated in smooth. A smoky dive bar is where you find yourself now, sipping whiskey in a plaid chair with the stuffing bashfully emerging from the seams.  “Unknown Brother” has two distinct guitar sounds within the same song. The glossy, sleek solo style cuts through the rough, unpolished rhythm guitar sound and create a dynamic contrast.

If you love rock music, you need to add Brothers to your collection. To quote a sample from producer Jake One, “Hear this, steal money from your grandmother’s brazier, from your grandfather’s underwear, from your mother’s purse and from your father’s pants pocket. Take the money and buy the damn record.” Do whatever you can, within reason, and go buy the album. It’s just that simple.

5 thoughts on “The Black Keys: Brothers

  1.   troyc on March 28th, 2011          

    This album is awesome and it inspires me a lot to see blues gaining ground again. It’s sort of like the world is starting to feel the pop hangover and turning back to music that is made for the music, not for profit. Dan Auerbach is a modern day Jesus.

    I dig your writing style, too. It reminds me of my own quite a bit actually (I think anyway, it’s hard to objectively gauge one’s own writing).

    Arcade Fire’s alright, but the Black Keys should have gotten “Best New Artist of the Year,” not Arcade. At least the Keys got “Alternative Album of the Year,” I suppose.

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