Dec 10, 2011

We have a crisis that can't be averted.


There is a musical crisis.  It started in 2010, when the Black Keys released Brothers," their 6th album.  Sure, it won critical acclaim, followed by grammy awards and commercial recognition.  But it left their true fans wondering, "what is this?"  

Then, what started as a question, continued on December 6, 2011 when the Black Keys released their 7th album, "El Camino."  The question had now been answered, with unapologetic rifts of pop galore, supporting their broken hearted lyrics with contradicting sound bites (you can't sing a song called "lonely boy" in a major scale), leaving true fans knowing that "we have a crisis on our hands."

There are clearly two different bands, Danger Mouse's Black Keys, and the Black Keys.  When the Black Keys first emerged, they were the greatest thing since toilet paper.  They were influenced by rough, testerone fueled emotion, wreaking havoc and ready to tear down anything that stood before their broken soul.  Their music was all texture, rough and gritty, punched by meaty guitar rifts, scorching over agressive percussion grenades that exploded with chaotically controlled beats.  They quickly torched anything and everything in the underground scene, as they delivered great stage shows, as well as albums (nothing beats Thickfreakness).  And there were only 2 of them!  2 dudes making the emotionally textured, yet masculine, music.  It gave every geek the muscle and fuel they needed to grip the world by the balls  It was the equivolent of a middle-finger salute to the weak minded fools that think one needs an excess of musical equipment to produce excellent sound.
hell yeah!

But then something happened.

The Black Keys lost their aggression.  Their lives had become tolerable, because their realities were mimicking their dreams.  They were no longer breaking their joints for blue collar jobs.  Instead, they were flexing their mental prowess, playing sold out shows across the nation.  They were being promoted in commercials and interviewed with major music publications.  They were earning respect for the talents that they knew they had.  Their testosterone went flat, as they had become satisfied.

Their sound, the sound that the first fans will always associate their music with, had fizzled out.  Rubber Factory was their peak (although, nothing beats Thickfreakness), offering unmatched tunes of "Stack Shot Billy" and "Girl is on my mind."  But then, Magic Potion arrives, exciting fans for more.  But more of the same is what they received.  Magic Potion is groggy and drowsy, on the brink of uninspiring.  It was as if Dan and Patrick had overdosed on their emotions, drinking the well dry, as they were no longer inspired.  Magic Potion has its highlights, but it was definitely a "quit or start something new" album.  

Then arrives Danger Mouse, offering his combustible insight to the new flame satisfied boredom that resulted with the end production of Magic Potion.  And because of Danger Mouse and his malignant production, we have his Black Keys.  A new Black Keys, that no longer have the distraught emotions that were used to extract the passion that was to detrimental and important to their original material.  A new Black Keys that can only pretend to understand the upsetting emotions that they want to keep writing about.  A new Black Keys who want to keep writing about the life's hardships, when they're winning grammys, selling millions of albums, and playing for sold out shows world-wide.  

I certainly don't want to discredit them for any of their success (I mean, this path should have been predicted, as one can only write so many songs with only the blues scale).  And I strictly outlaw their new style and material, as "Gold on the Ceiling" is one of the best songs I've heard in a long time.  But I would never guess that this new, clean, hipster friendly rock duo is the Black Keys.  They are well trimmed.  They wear stylish clothes.  Patrick wears thick, sophisticated glasses, while Dan parts his hair to the side with a help of a little product.  These aren't the same guys that appeal to any down-on-his-luck Joe.  These aren't the same guys who single handedly resurrected the true importance of blues, creating emotionally fueled, musical rampages.   These are new guys, no longer angst driven, but rather, satisfied with their lives, creating satisfactory music.  The old Black Keys would have acknowledged that "Little Black Submarine" was a remix of Tom Petty's "Last Dance with Mary Jane."  But the new Black Keys take the tune, and call it their own.  Because they are, of course, the Black Keys.  

WTF is this?!

The crisis is that we no longer have our Black Keys.  Which is a crisis that won't be averted.   


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