Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Black Keys, El Camino

A stellar rock 'n' roll album is increasingly hard to find. So it's refreshing to hear the Black Keys avoid looped samples and other digital effects in favor of cool, classic rock music that places heavy emphasis on the guitar. El Camino is an 11-song exercise in garage rock that's as just dirty and dingy as the vintage Chevrolet utility coupe for which it is named. (Don't ask us why there's a picture of a minivan on the cover.) From the reverb-heavy "Gold on the Ceiling" to the wailing electric-guitar riffs on "Run Right Back," the Black Keys have made good on an old sound. (That acoustic-ballad-to-electric-anthem transition in "Little Black Submarines"? Classic Led Zeppelin.) Front man Dan Auerbach possesses one of the finer voices in music today — the perfect blend of unpolished snarl and soulful croon that leaves you with goose bumps in all the right spots.