Friday, December 9, 2011

New Tune Tuesday 12.6.11 - The Black Keys continue to sell out their sound...

Beautiful Melodies telling you Terrible Things Vol. New Tune Tuesday 12.6.11

A few days late and a few dollars short, but who's listening anyway? Anyhow, here's what can be found if you decide to take a trip to the record store this week to score some new ear bud...

RELEASE OF THE WEEK (12.6.11): El Camino, The Black Keys
This is what happens when you taste popularity, you want more of it. Like men with power lusting after more power...Last year the Black Keys released Brothers, an album portemaus' own Manny Funkowitz named the best album of the year. It made my top-10, but certainly didn't take home the prize, it just couldn't. It wasn't the Black Keys I had grown to love over the previous few years. Was it a good album? Sure, but it was also over-produced in all the wrong places, too much pop, too much (poor) layering, the wrong depth and not enough simplicity...Which is what made the Black Keys so great to begin with. I'm not saying an artist shouldn't grow, they should, but this seems less like growth or trying to go in a different direction and more like just trying to win another Grammy. Unfortunately Danger Mouse is once again behind the co-producer chair and this newest release has all the same problems, a little more-so in fact. "Little Black Submarine" was great in the beginning, mainly just Dan with an acoustic guitar, just a twinge of EQ to his voice, a haunting organ somewhere in the distance...why the need to throw in the layering of voices? Both of his and of the female variety? You'll still find some of the grittier, simplistic Black Keys here, but, you'll also find tracks like "Lonely Boy" that seem (writing and arrangement wise) a B-version of Brothers "Howlin' for You," while also making that song sound like a garage band recording. It's not all bad, there ARE good tracks on this album, and the writing is still solid. But there is no need to layer Dan Auerbach's voice a thousand times over? This isn't about going pop, this is about going badly produced pop. More instrumentation is one thing, badly layered and mastered instrumentation just doesn't make the balance or depth of the album's sound any better. Give me my blues back, give me the real Black Keys. So while this sounds like a BAD review, it's really not. There's still good tracks to be found on this CD, and it's bound to please a wider audience, but on my list of my favorite Black Keys releases, you will not find this amongst the top tier.

AVAILABLE ON: CD, Vinyl (includes CD & Poster), MP3
I also hear from a maus-keteer that this is available for free on torrents, but I'm not saying who said this and I don't condone that sort of theft.

Other Notable Releases (12.6.11)
Lioness, Amy Whinehouse
Obviously rushed out for the Christmas season, this features some covers and some weaker original tracks Amy probably never would have let see the light of day had she been working on an actual new LP. Still, this is likely scraping the bottom of the vaults, and there are some solid tracks to be found in between what is mostly filler.
Available on: CD, Vinyl, MP3
Undun, The Roots
If you dig your music with a mixture of rap and rock, and like it actually done well and not say, done in the vein of Kid Rock or Limp Bizkit circa 1999, this is for you. It's not half-bad either.
Available on: CD, MP3

The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook - Elvis Costello
You know it's bad when the artist themselves come out and say the pricing on their newest release is basically a bad hoax and "don't buy my new release." You know it's worst when they already have basically cancelled this thing and are planning to release an actually adequately priced two-CD set next month. Indeed here is maybe the worst offender yet in the recent long line of overly-expensive deluxe box sets. Just about every artist out there is pulling this crap, and it will just continue as they're able to sell 5,000-15,000 copies of a sets that cost over $100 as the sales of CD's continue to diminish. Here you get a CD, a DVD and a 10" EP for something like $250. Yeah...thanks!
Available on: Overly expensive box set, soon to be 2-CD decent priced set


  1. I am with you on the overly-"poppy" nature of El Camino. While it is better than most modern pop rock out today, I have come to expect more from the Black Keys. Honestly, what happened to their whole affinity for the blues?

  2. I probably sounded overly negative on that mini-review, the album is still better than so much of the drivel released these days, but it has it's problems, mostly in the areas of the overdubs and mixing.

    As you said, I've come to expect more from the Black Keys.