They Made Their Mark

A stream of conscience review of the new Black Keys’ album, Turn Blue.

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the_black_keys_1378933759570Why thank you iTunes First Play for…well, first playing the new Black Keys’ album, Turn Blue. I saw this on some form of social media and hustled my bustle straight for a computer. I didn’t even hold a door for someone. That’s how excited I was to hear this album.

These thoughts were written while listening to the album for the first time…

Song 1: “Weight of Love”

Ah yes, this long song I’ve heard about. Rumblings and mumblings about the Keys’ opening this album with a song over five minutes long, emblematic of their maturity and distance from their old school, barn storming days of three minute blues rockers. And you could say to yourself, but I liked those three minute blues rockers. I would say, yes, so did I. But let’s see what this album has in store for us before making any kind of judgements and/or rash decisions.

This cookie dough flavored ice coffee Dunky D’s is slinging these days is legit.

Segue, so is this song. It’s cool like sand under your feet on a summer night.

Are the Keys’ really a two person band anymore? This doesn’t sound like two people. It sounds like Neil Young and Crazy Horse mending their bones after a reckless peyote trip- real desert-like. Early Keys’ records sounded like the product of two dudes. Even something like “Lonely Boy” sounded kind of like two dudes. This doesn’t. Now is that a bad thing? Not really. The two man band thing was bound to run it’s course eventually, especially in the case of the Black Keys, a band that made no secret about the ambitions they harbored. Each album has been a picture of growth. I can’t imagine Turn Blue would be…

Song 2: “In Time”

…any different.

That Beyagency skit Saturday Night Live was funny, but really, Huffington Post, the “best SNL skit of all time?” Please. It’s like Huffington Post is just trying to get you to click on their links or somethin…oh yeah, never mind.

This song is sly, man. I love Patrick Carney’s drumming. It can totally sound like pots and pans sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. I’m a big fan of drummers who know their role. Pat knows his role- just lay down beats, let Dan do his thing.

I love the chorus of this song. This is a hand-clappin’ song. Like in a take me to church kind of way– revivalist. And there’s this darting guitar line that sounds like a slimmed down fog horn towards the end- awesome.

Retroactive Note: This is my favorite song on the album

Song 3: “Turn Blue”

Satellite Radio has had a man crush song on this tune for a week or so now, ever since they got their mitts on it. No complaints from me, though. This joint will get you pregnant.

Just going to enjoy this one.

But would like to mention that it oddly enough sounds like a cross between the Black Keys and Broken Bells, which is fitting because of Danger Mouse’s involvement in both. He’s back behind the console for this Keys’ album. He’s been involved with Black Keys’ albums since 2008’s Attack and Release. That was the first Keys’ album to involve input from an outside party and I also kind of think it’s the band’s first legitim…

Song 4: “Fever”

…ate album.

I wrote about this track back when it was first released and I still love it. It’s got a great stomp to it and I’ll say it now, I’m digging this album so far. I also dig the phrase “spaghetti western.” What does that even mean anyway?

Song 5: “Year in Review”

Pat has a very distinct sounding snare drum. It’s rough and raw. You can feel the way he bangs on it, it comes through the speakers.

This song hammers through, the snare pounding on a dime, straight on every beat throughout. Then there is an inkling of strings that come through at the end, as if to say, wrap it up. First song I’d rank below a 8. Of course, it’s still a 6. Not too shabby.

A definition of “spaghetti western” from Urban Dictionary: A genre of films popular in the 1960s and early 1970s. The films were usually filmed in Spain, and directed by Italian directrors. Several Factors can be looked upon to distinguish Spaghettis from regular American-westerns: 1. Level of Violence (Usually more than American made westerns). 2. The Music (Often scored by Ennio Morriconne and Bruno Nicolai). 3. Sound Effects (Particulary the gun and horse sounds are different from the ones used in American made westerns). 4. Religious imagery, symbols and names. 5. Filmed in Almeria Spain. 6. Italian and Spanish names in the credits (It is highly likely the director will be named Sergio). 7. Out of sync dubbing (Even the Italian versions are dubbed). 8. Stereotypes (Mexicans as theives, women as whores). 9. A shitload of alternate titles. 10. Banned in several countries. 11. Often they star Franco Nero, Lee Van Cleef, Tomas Milian, Klaus Kinski, Luigi Pistili, Mario Brega and other spaghetti regulars.

Song 6: “Bullet in the Brain”

This song is kind of spooky. Ghost town spooky. At least the first minute and a half are. Then it picks up, kicks in as if you just realized the town you were in was empty, maybe even haunted, and you wisely decided to get the eff out of dodge. Now it feels like runaway music and you can almost picture yourself in a rag top convertible, screaming down some dusty, winding road with a sky full to the brim with stars up above you. The dust kicks up from your tires. You’re probably taking swigs from a flask and that flask, well it’s not filled with fruit punch and you laugh to yourself. There’s no one with you, but you’re talking out loud anyway. Driving at night will do that to you.

I like that song.

Song 7: “It’s Up To You Now”

Thunder drums, a jungle beat and fuzzy guitar.

Dan Auerbach has such a unique voice. It could so easily be better or worse, but it’s so wonderfully entrenched in the middle. It has world-weariness and resolute perfection in it, coming at the middle from both sides. It’s a rambler’s voice, or at least the voice of a dude who can pull of wearing a jean jacket.

This song has a real 60’s or 70’s feel to it and would fit super nicely in your neighborhood arena.

Song 8: “Waiting on Words”

#auerbachfalsetto

One for the lighters in the air. But be forewarned- it could be a trap and could pick up at any moment. Like “Little Black Submarines” on El Camino. That song starts out kind of similarly before bombasting it’s way into rock. So far, this one has stayed kind of mellow, low key and restrained. This is one of the songs critics would say demonstrates a new, mature Black Keys.

Song 9: 10 Lovers

Grab your ladies! It’s dance time! Sway those hips, clap a little bit, shake that ass. If this album, up to this point, has been a getaway, this is the break time. Have a few beers and enjoy the illuminated dance floor. Tap those toes, tap that beer bottle on the table. Give a nod to whoever. It’s that kind of song.

You know, this might be my favorite song on this album. It doesn’t…

Song 10: “In Our Prime”

…sound like anything they’ve done before.

Well and neither does “In Our Prime.”

We made our mark when we were in our prime.

Now this is a haunting, but beautiful song. And hey now, just jumped a bit, kicked up a few tics a minute. Still got the same vibe, though. This is a song for reminiscing. It wants you to look back, stare off into space and take some stock of things. Baseball, the ocean, dogs- it’s a memory-starter for sure.

I really like that line- we made our mark when we were in our prime.

At three minutes, it drops back down in tempo. Real, gnarly blues and a real determined, gritty groove.

Song 11: “Gotta Get Away”

This is some good backyard rock- more of that 70’s vibe I sniffed out earlier.

This might be the last song, I don’t know, but this is a real confident album. The Black Keys seem to have reached that stage in their careers where they very clearly know who they are, what they’re about and what they are trying to do. It’s an album that has zero eff’s to give. I appreciate that. This song, “Gotta Get Away” is so close to being cheesy, it’s toeing the line of cheese. But it doesn’t. It veers at the very last minute and is instead, just a good classic rock song.

I bet this is the last song. It’s how you end an album.

Yup, the last song.

Yup, another great Black Keys’ album.

Yup, gonna listen to it again.

You can too.

Giddy up, indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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