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on December 10, 2011
Their are quickly turning into two types of keys fans,Pre and post danger mouse fans, are you a thickfreakness/rubberfactory or attack and release/brothers fan. This new album El camino cements danger mouses influence with high production and backup singers etc. This is not in any way a bad record,it has great energy,power and the keys have never sounded tighter as far as playing and vocals.

You just have to ask yourself, how light do you want your black keys ?

If you came in with the danger mouse records you'll have no problems,if your a fan of the original sound of the black keys i suggest you do some pre listening before you buy this album. Once again I state this is in no way a bad album,its fantastic,but how you like your keys is gonna determine how much you dig this record.
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on December 26, 2011
I must be a freak of nature because I've been following the Keys for years and I've enjoyed every album without exception. People who call themselves purists and are missing the "old" sound are just confused about what makes these guys so great. Ever developing and stretching what's possible. Each album is it's own life, don't judge one album by another. That's like a parent judging one kid by another; just wrong. If you want a bunch of "thickfreakness" or "rubber factory" then you shouldn't have ever bought another keys album after those ones. Plain and simple. This album is as solid as any other, take it for what it is; not for what it isn't.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 6, 2011
It's a Black Keys album and you pretty much know what your going to get. This is the seventh outing from the great Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach. They work in what is a somewhat restricted musical seam yet they seem to manage to squeeze every ounce of funky blues and soul base metal from its core and add their own little discoveries. It all adds up to a quality product but one in "El Camino" which adds a bit more grease and motor oil to the usual mix. The result is the creation of what is one of their best hard rocking blues barrages in sometime which does offer contrast to the more laidback "Brothers" album. Equally the bands honorary third member Dangermouse (Brian Joseph Burton) is at the control desk again and has decided to place a welcome emphasis on the pop hooks in these 11 great songs and for once the bass player gets a proper look in.

It all kicks off with two thumpers the overpowering "Lonely boy" and the brilliant "Dead and gone". It all sounds effortless with the former containing a killer sing-along chorus and a pounding fuzzy riff while the latter contains .......ahem, a killer sing-along chorus and pounding fuzzy riff! A great start and the foot is barely taken off the gas with the glam rock of "Gold on the ceiling" which you can almost visualise the great Marc Bolan singing in the heyday of T Rex. The pace cools for the initially acoustic "Little black submarines" gently sung by Auerbach but breaks out into a massive electric beast halfway through with a riff that does echo Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's last dance". It's a real standout track and followed by keepers like "Money maker" and the funky "Run right back". The track "Sister" sounds like one of those classic tracks built for FM rock radio which you imagine that Paul Rodgers could happily cover. It could easily be a single although there is plenty of competition, while the soulful "Hell of a season" might just be the best track on the album. The final three tracks are the "Stop Stop" a sort of mix of Stax soul and garage rock, the incredibly commercial belter that is "Nova Baby" where Auerbach blues-tinged vocals are at their absolute best and the concluding song "Mind eraser" which would have happily sat on "Attack and release".

Granted there is little new ground broken here and "El Camino" is a not a demanding listen. You could also argue that the explorations and R&B excursions of "Brothers" have been firmly contained in a framework which represents a souped up version of their earlier work. But whose complaining? It's the Black Keys offering up a great rock album sardine packed with top notch songs. After a number of listens "El Camino" reveals itself as a fresh, exhilarating and occasionally an almost glam rock orientated album from a band which has proved one of the most enduring of its generation while many of their contemporaries have fallen by the waste side or hysterically imploded. For a band that was often brutally criticized for being the "White Stripes lite" there must be real satisfaction in their ongoing achievement and a modest level of gloating is completely in order.
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on December 7, 2011
Just to preface, I've been a big supporter of The Black Keys for nearly 10 years. I religiously buy all their albums and have seen them play on every tour since 'Thickfreakness'. My favorites are their older albums but, with that said, I know every artist has to grow and evolve their sound somewhat lest it become stale. I have no problem with that. In fact, I really liked the direction that their last disc, 'Brothers', appeared to be headed in: in addition to their stalwart blues, they were incorporating soul and R&B. I was very excited to get this album and have given it several listens and a few days to really sink in. In lieu of the soul and gritty blues, they've replaced it with pop and overproduction. It just seems very repetitive and would probably be good as background music at a party. It's not bad and acts as a good, safe offering to people who aren't familiar with The Black Keys, but it sounds like they're playing it safe here. In light of the garbage that the music industry is trying to pawn off on us, this disc has most everything else beat nowadays. But compared with the rest of their catalog, I think this is the Keys weakest offering and will likely get the least airplay on my stereo.
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on December 6, 2011
The Black Keys constituents Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney's previous offering--"Brothers"--was their first conventional success, despite the fact that it had some noticeable weaknesses. Namely, it featured a large number of ballads and underwhelming up-tempo tracks, which were a huge contrast to the contents of the album's most endeared, hard-hitting predecessors, "Thickfreakness" and "Rubber Factory." Now, the Black Keys are back to fill a gaping void in the Alternative Rock scene. They have approached the project with much needed innovation and a revamped sound, in order to create something more than a sequel to their prior commercial success. This venture is marked by a fearless attempt to capture listeners by muscling full speed through perilous terrain, and it reaches its mark without once losing momentum--or a sense of humor.

Auerbach and Carney were taking a risk by returning to the formula of the excessively produced "Attack & Release" and their biggest commercial single yet, "Tighten Up," from "Brothers," by once again teaming up with Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton--this time, allowing him full participation in the creative process. His fingerprints are prominent all over this release, but that--in and of itself--is not necessarily a bad thing. Have no fear--The Black Keys have not been recreated in the Gnarls Barkley image, and this is not, yet another spaghetti western for which Burton has such a glaring affinity. In fact, there is very little semblance to any of Burton's other projects. Instead, the end result is simply a more polished and accessible sound that still holds true to the band's character, with only the slightest hint of artistic surrender. The Black Keys began a gradual progression toward this style with their last few albums, so it seems like a natural development. What prevents the mishaps of years past is the band's increased awareness of what works and what will inevitably fall flat.

Despite notable changes, the Black Keys of yesteryear are certainly recognizable in this compilation. There is the all-familiar hand clapping, foot stomping, and pounding bass set to a scenery of rough, fuzzy guitar licks. With "Little Black Submarines" they begin with a ballad-style intro that lacks the distracting falsetto that was oh-so-prominent in "Brothers," and halfway through, they turn it full throttle. The transition from haunting splendor to gripping intensity makes a gut-twisting impact that will leave fans salivating for the first opportunity to witness a live performance of this singular track. In "Gold on the Ceiling," the guys add some luster and opulence that breaks through the nebulous front. As a whole, the tracks are caffeinated diatribes about deceitful women, stolen money, and the like. Although there is some carryover of lyrical vulnerabilities and the overdone themes of their past works, the music's stylistically rich and witty peculiarities are all-encompassing, which protects the material from being unduly compromised.

While fans of the band's earlier works might be irritated by the continued trend away from their frenzied, raw energy roots, El Camino is not a far cry from their origins. Carney returns from the watered down percussion that characterized the "Brothers" interval to his trademark assaults of his drum kit, and Auerbach reinstitutes his more coarse and rousing vocal approach. While it is a more mature and smooth sound, it is punched full of the requisite edginess, distortion, and oddball antics. Amidst the dark and broody mood are some heavy rhythms and thumping beats--thanks to the repeat collaboration with Danger Mouse--that culminates into a much more compelling and momentous successor to the vaguely bland, yet highly recognized, "Brothers." There is a sense of cinematic peril and waywardness that is incongruously alluring, and the temptation to ride shotgun through this adventure is palpable.
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on March 10, 2012
Attack and Release was decent... not as great as their earlier albums or even Brothers. Brothers was a good return to their roots, but was a bit depressing since the Black Keys did not sound like a two-piece band anymore. Then El Camino was released. My first listen I was like "Wow, this is good!" But as I listened to the album more, I realized the album did not sound like the Black Keys we all know and love. Firstly, there are way too many instruments playing at once. The album sounds like a wall of sound, not very attractive.

Secondly, all of the songs (except Little Black Submarine, which is one of the greatest Black Keys songs) focus way too much on the chorus. The verses are short, but then we have this chorus (which are always backed by female vocalists, which gets repetitive) that drags the song out way too long.

Lastly, WHERE IS THE BLUES??? There is not one song on this album that leaves a hint that shows the Black Keys are (were??) a blues band. What's even more depressing is that the guitar is sent to the back in most of the songs, which leaves the songs based around synth, bass, and drums. This is so weird, since on Brothers, EVERY SINGLE SONG was blues and soul-filled. If I had never heard of the Black Keys, and someone had played El Camino and Thickfreakness side-by-side, I would not guess that they were the same band (except by Dan's voice, of course).

Now who's to blame here? I personally think Danger Mouse is the culprit in this situation. I think that he is trying to hard to make the Black Keys sound like the old Black Keys, which, ironically, makes the Black Keys sound less like the old Black Keys.

What's the solution, you ask? I say let someone else produce the next album. Being that Attack and Release and El Camino (both produced by Danger Mouse) are basically the only sore thumbs in the Black Keys discography, that can't just be coincidence, right? I'm glad the Black Keys have finally risen in fame, but I really hope they go back to their roots. If they don't, however, I think we should all be happy that we have a great [past] discography from them, since most bands tend to lose "it" after two or three albums.

PS El Camino is in no way a "bad" album, it's just bad by Black Keys standards. Cheers.
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on December 13, 2011
Let's get one thing out of the way. If you are waiting on The Black Keys to make another "Thickfreakness" or "Rubber Factory", I got news for you: It ain't gonna happen. It's hard for me to say that because those are my two favorite Black Keys albums. I miss the rawness and the "medium-fidelity" sound of their first four albums, and don't find myself getting into their latest stuff as much. Having said that, I do really like this album. It seems like a mix of Dan's solo album "Keep It Hid" and the Keys' "Brothers", to me. They seem to be going in more of a soul/r&b direction, as of late, especially on "Brothers". Don't get me wrong, these guys can still rock, but it seems to be a little more laid back and controlled, now. I think a lot of it has to do with production. They're not recording in basements and abandoned tire factories, anymore. They're actually recording in studios, and with other producers. Another factor is that neither Dan nor Patrick live in Akron anymore. Different environments can shape your songwriting, not to mention your mood. Dan lives in Nashville and Patrick in NYC. Not sure about NYC, but as far as Nashville, it's got to be a happier place than just about anywhere in Ohio. Believe me, I know.....I live in Ohio. The songs on this album are pretty solid, though. I especially like "Lonely Boy" and "Gold on the Ceiling". You can't fault these guys for progressing and trying to grow as musicians. I think they're still doing a great job, even if it does sound a little less raw than their earlier material.
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on December 23, 2011
A must have for anyone who enjoy's music from the Black Keys.
I pre ordered this because I love what these guy's can do to make fabulous music.
Was going to wait and give it to my husband for Christmas but couldn't wait and gave it to myself.
I want to let you know that at 62, I just can't get enough of their music.
A must have for any music collection!!!
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on October 1, 2012
I've never seen an album so divided in opinion than The Black Keys' 7th release, El Camino. All the major review sites and magazines seem to give it glowing rave reviews, calling it one of the most exciting rock records of 2011. However, all the Keys fans that followed them up to this point have been trashing this album, with cries of "sell out," and even "Danger Mouse produced crap." Seems like there isn't a consistent opinion about this record.

I'll be honest, I was a bit turned off at first by this record too. I have been following The Black Keys for about 10 years now, pretty much from when they started as a little known Akron blues band with a really good debut on their sleeves. The first 4 albums pretty much follow that dirty hill country blues formula, with a penchant for heavy guitar, fantastic performances, and some pretty catchy hooks to boot. Then there was the dividing point with 2008's Attack & Release, a record I still don't really care for outside of a few good songs. Brothers changed that for me though, a dense record with some of the best songs you'll ever hear from the Akron duo.

Now, there's El Camino, and things have changed yet again. The hill country influence has faded a little bit. The production is booming. There's added instrumentation. There's even female backing singers. So much has changed since that little known debut in 2002. But, as I said before, all things must change. Bands evolve. Look at Radiohead, do you really want them to play the post-grunge they were embracing on Pablo Honey? Give this album some time, it will grow on you.

And grow on me it did. All the songs are short, sweet, and to the point. And man, do they rock. The 3-song punch of Lonely Boy, Dead & Gone, and Gold On The Ceiling just never fails to excite me. All these songs just bounce, rip and roar, the latter being my favorite: A T-rex style boogie with some great fuzzy guitar.

Little Black Submarines is just epic. A nice acoustic sad song turned into a Tom Petty-esque rocker. You just have to hear it to believe it.

And the rest of the album is just so damn dancy and funky. They know how to slide in a great hook while still retaining their energy and the fuzz of earlier releases. I don't really see this as a huge departure if you've been following them up to this point. I just see them blossoming as songwriters and as a kicking rock band.

So, I don't really understand the hate, but if you're looking for a good new rock and roll album, this is the one to get. Keep on rolling, guys.
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on December 12, 2011
I wish there were 10 stars to rate with rather than 5 so I could give this a 9. I will admit that this album has more commercial appeal than Thickfreakness, but I'm not sure why that is necessarily a bad thing. The band is spreading their wings and this slightly more polished sound seems like a natural progression to me. Danger Mouse is by no means my favorite producer, but frankly, this seems a bit less "overproduced" than I had expected. I think that maybe for the next album, I'll lobby the band to use Rick Rubin. In the mean time however, this album will work fine for me.

I get a little frustrated with any review that is negative based on some pre-conceived idea of what they think it should sound like, or that they are frustrated that it doesn't sound similar to an album they preferred from a decade and a half dozen albums previous. Listen for yourself. Even a 30 second sound clip should give you an idea what it sounds like. This is a very solid selection of music that will certainly satisfy 99.99% of Keys fans, and it has just enough production value and commercial potential to perhaps garner a few new fans.

When you put this collection alongside nearly EVERY piece of absolute dreck in the Billboard 100, it is not only a breath of fresh air, but a masterpiece. Is it perfect, of course not, but it is very very good, hence the 9 out of ten rating.
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