Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Black Keys: Brothers

I have to admit that I’m rather surprised this album is so high on iTunes right now (#2 a week after its release), not because it’s not good (it’s very good), but because it just doesn’t seem like it has the sound that would give it a wide audience appeal, particularly in its first week out and being a band that isn’t super widely known (I don’t think- maybe it’s just me). I reviewed Tighten Up in Misc. Singles and loved it. I was excited and surprised to see it doing so well sales-wise, so I took the plunge and bought the album. I can only blame myself for not knowing what I’m getting in these situations, but in this case it’s a good thing! If I had known this was a very bluesy album I doubt I would have bought it, but I have really grown to like it.

My first couple times listening to an album if I’m not familiar with the artist is always kind of a blur- it has an overall sound and that’s about all I come away with. To be honest, I didn’t really like it at first since when I listened to it I was not sitting in a smoky club and am not currently going through a bad breakup but rather was sitting on my back porch or going about my suburban mom kitchen duties- possibly not quite the right setting for this one. My kids were also not impressed, and this one is definitely not designed for the ‘tween or teen set. I thought the overall tempo of the songs was very slow and the lyrics fairly depressing (more on that later). When I started considering the songs individually and got to know them better, however, it turned out there is only one song that I really think is over the top blues and I don’t enjoy. In fact, I’m having a hard time narrowing down a list of singles to recommend because I like so many and think they’re probably better as a group than on an individual basis.

I often think that whether you like or don’t like a particular song or album has to do with what mood you’re in and what emotions the songs evoke. This one digs deep as the sound and lyrics are so soulful. When I found out that one of the two members of the group was going through a bad divorce while the songs were being written, it kind of made sense. I almost feel like I’m invading his privacy listening to the songs and knowing that. Mind you, not all of the songs are sad or depressing- there are upbeat moments, but the blues sound in general is not going to make your pre-party playlist. After I had listened to this album a few times through, I decided that The Black Keys could be compared to Ray Lamontagne in case you already know you like his sound.

Get this album but know that you need to give it some time and consider it contemplatively. Let it reach those deep down feelings and you will really appreciate (and enjoy) it. Okay, I tried to list the singles I would recommend and ended up with a list of 9 of the 15 songs on the album, which is ridiculous. The video for Tighten Up is below. That song is probably the most upbeat and I still think it has the potential to be popular on a wider scale. I guess if you held a gun to my head and told me to pick one or two more to recommend I would say Everlasting Light and The Only One as those would give you a good taste of what the overall album sounds like.

On another note, I’m still loving New Pornographers’ album. If you didn’t catch the video in my previous post check it out- they’re good.

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