Over the long holiday weekend, I picked up three c.d.'s with my B&N gift card: "Swordfishtrombones" by Tom Waits; "El Camino" and "Chulahoma" by The Black Keys. "El Camino" will be the focus of today's music review.
I was first introduced to this group and this particular c.d. by noted writer/musician (click here for a song by his group American Falcon)/blogger Chris LaTray, who had posted a video clip of Lonely Boy on his blog about a month ago. The song rocked so much that I decided right then and there that I needed to have that c.d., which for me is a rarity, since I like to experience an artist's output in chronological order.
Anyways, when I purchased my copy the sticker on the wrapper said, "Play It Loud". So I did and the end result was a c.d. that not only kicked ass from track 1, but forced you to listen to it all the way through in one sitting.
Most bands, when they release a c.d., can usually be listened to piecemeal. In other words, it would contain maybe one or two radio friendly hits, a few decent tracks and the rest filler. Thus, you could listen to it for ten or twelve minutes, take a break to do something, then come back and listen to it for another chunk of time, etc..
"El Camino" is written and played in such a way that it's virtually impossible to listen to it piecemeal. Each track seamlessly flows into the next, allowing almost zero time to come up for air and prepare for the next. Even when it goes from a rocker like "Gold On The Ceiling" to a mellower song called "Little Black Submarines", it still maintains that uptempo pacing that allows no room for breathing. And should you be forced to take a break longer than twenty seconds from the c.d., it's almost impossible to go back where you left off at and pick up the current story line, thus leaving you with no other option than to start at the beginning and hope to hell that no one bothers you for the next thirty-eight minutes and twenty-seven seconds.
Overall, I found this c.d. an absolute pleasure not only to listen to, but to experience as well. Everything, from the music to the vocals, both lead and backing, is done in such a way that quite often it's hard to tell who's doing what when. Even if you've never experienced The Black Keys before, this c.d. is a great example of what's being played not only on real radio, but at the smaller (i.e. non-arena) music venues around the country and on the small indie labels (Nonsuch Records is not an indie label, although their earlier stuff found on Fat Possum Records is).