The Black Keys: Brothers

Artist: The Black Keys

Title: Brothers
Release date: May 18
Label: Nonesuch

The Black Keys have always been a band that I should like. The kind of music they play is generally one kind of music that I've always been into. But for one reason or another -- they weren't bluesy enough, they were too bluesy, they didn't rock enough, they rocked but weren't dirty enough, the songs weren't that great, whatever -- I've always been left more or less unimpressed by their music. 

In terms of two-man bands, they were never on my short list of the really good ones.





So, I have to say that I expected more of the same with Brothers. But I'm happy to report that The Black Keys found their way into my heart this time around. They've really dialed back on the garage-blues that made them famous, shifting down on the heavy riffing, and easing into kind of a lonely soul vibe that suits the Akron, Ohio duo quite well.

The Black Keys wisely let singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach's voice grab the spotlight on Brothers. Turns out the guy's a really good singer, not just a rock 'n' roll howler. To me, he sounds a little bit Van Morrison, if Van were from the Rust Belt.

I look forward to see whether The Black Keys continue in their Southern soul direction. Here's hoping they do.

Best song: The obvious single on Brothers is "Tighten Up" (produced by Danger Mouse, btw), and it is a good song, but for a better sense of what this record is all about, I'll go with "Too Afraid to Love You" and "Ten Cent Pistol."
Rotation: Medium-heavy
Deja vu: Blue-eyed soul
I'd rather listen to: My favorite two-man guitar-drums band is still the Flat Duo Jets.
Grade: B+ (The 55-minute running time saps some of the energy of this record. A little more self-editing and you've got one of the better rock records of the year.)

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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