Album Review :: The Black Keys – Brothers

American blues rockers delight fans and critics alike with their latest offering in what is set to be a breakout year.

The Black Keys

The Black Keys - Brothers © Nonesuch

With a unique and groundbreaking approach to rock music, The Black Keys have been making a name for themselves since their formation in 2001. Now, with the release of their sixth studio album Brothers, the Ohio due of Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney team with notable producer Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley to deliver what could potentially be the climax of their musical and artistic opus.

Formed in Akron, Ohio, a city that notes Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde and the smooth talking, moustached master Clark Gable, The Black Keys are predominantly a blues and indie rock band who take most of their inspiration from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. From their formation in 2001 and with their breakout album Attack & Release in 2008, Auerbach and Carney have steadily readied a loyal fan base that includes prominent rockers Robert Plant and Billy Gibbons. The band have also found notable fame for a number of their songs appearing in various forms of the media, the video game GTA IV and numerous TV shows in the states sampling their work. In all, The Black Keys seem to have hit their stride and are not about to take their foot off of the pedal.

Continuing effectively where they left off in 2008, Brothers has been described by critics and the band alike as feeling the most natural sounding of the group’s albums to date. At a whopping fifteen tracks, sixteen if the vinyl is bought or the track is downloaded via the band’s website, there is certainly a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to material. Opening with the lumbering “Everlasting Light”, a more than Zeppelin esque that pays a great tribute to the old delta blues and sounds like it has been put through the rusty engine of an old Mid West tractor, the album continues this strong opening offering with “Next Girl” and “Tighten Up” the later being the album’s first single.

It is not until the fifth track of the album, however, with “She’s Long Gone” that the whole work as a piece of musical and artist ability really tarts to pick up pace. This track, with Auerbach’s guitar work bleeding through the amps and speakers like the ghost of a tormented old bluesman that the true ability of this duo is really put on show. Once again a very early seventies Zeppelin feel about the song, with its grainy production and whaling vocals, which of course can be no bad thing.  This feel and moping blues laments are continued with “Ten Cent Pistol” “I’m Not the One” and “Sinister Kid” all bring the ambiance and general tone and feel of the album alive, filling it and the listener with a heartfelt confidence and attachment to the band.

Rounding out the blues behemoth is the much slower, almost ballad like “These Days”. A wonderfully crafted slow number that perfectly compliments the rest of the album, Auerbach’s sleepy vocals coupled with his whining guitar and Carney’s downtrodden drumming make the listener feel like they are back on the bayou, a fishing line tied to your toe and a straw hat resting over your face to cover you from the sun. The imagery is evocative and intensely intoxicating, a tribute no less to the master craftsmen of the band.

In all Brothers is a very enjoyable and listenable album, one which is bound to be the band’s biggest hit to date and propel them into a much wider sitting audience, an accolade they most definitely deserve. Debuting with strong download and sales, the album debuting at number three in the states alone, Brothers is a fine introductory, if a little repetitive, example of The Black Keys work.

Jonathan Whitelaw

Check out the band’s official website for tour dates, profiles, discography and news:

4 Responses to “Album Review :: The Black Keys – Brothers”

  1. One quick observation here: I have never listened to The Black Keys, nor do I ever intend to. However, the cover of this album strikes me as completely obnoxious and terribly unfunny. In fact, it makes me want to listen to the band even less.
    That is all.

  2. mike hunt says:

    seems like Anthony & Jon W are complete douchbags and have no idea what they are talking about..

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