Monday, October 25, 2010

The Black Keys - iTunes Sessions (Nonesuch, 2010)

The Black Keys have been plugging away in the trenches of rock 'n' roll for many years now and their perseverance has paid off handsomely with a nice record contract, a top five album called Brothers and appearances on TV. Amazingly, their core sound remains the same, true to the rock and soul music that originally inspired them, but perhaps a little more fleshed out with the addition of other instruments to the core duo. This was an LP length download only album cut live in the studio to capitalize on the group's success and it works quite well, capturing the raw power of their live show and early material with the added subtlety of their newer work. The opening song, "Chop and Change" melds these two ideas perfectly, bathing the duo's garage band muscle with ominous swirling organ, framing Dan Auerbach's vocals about a strong woman on the move perfectly. "Everlasting Light" showcases the band's familiarity with soul music and R&B, giving the music a gentle almost gospelish tinge. Dark noirish songwriting has been a hallmark of The Black Keys original music and a couple of tunes included here from the Brothers LP bear this out. "Sinister Kid" is the story of a man on the run from his past that he can never escape, like some anti-hero from a Black Mask short story, while "Next Girl" takes a pile driving groove and weds it to a tale of guilt and remorse. This was a really well done selection of songs, taking what could have been a quickie cash-in opportunity and building it into a fine addition to the band's growing list of impressive musical statements. The Black Keys - iTunes Session

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