I’m putting together end of the year lists, like everyone else, but I couldn’t let these two slip through without writing about them. Both out today, 12/6.
The Black Keys — El Camino: my love for the Black Keys is pretty well described as primal; their 2010 album Brothers remains an album that I think is so fundamentally dirty that it probably shouldn’t be listened to in polite company. El Camino is more of what they do so, so well, which is make brilliant two person garage blues. It’s less dirty than Brothers but it’s a little more funky, a little more full of ’70s crunchy guitars than blues wail and moan. It’s absolutely as compelling, though, and it really is just as fantastically brilliant as everything else they’ve done. El Camino feels, like every album Carney and Auerbach have released, like the logical step in their careers — they made a few garage rock albums tinged with the blues, and with Brothers made a full-on sexy-as-hell blues record. El Camino is a ’70s funk album, full of shiny shouted choruses and hand claps and reverb on the vocals and fuzzed out guitar lines. If the Black Keys want to make me ’70s funk albums, I’m down with that. Really, really down, in fact. This album is phenomenal. As always.
The Catch Fire — Rumormill: the Catch Fire is one of Charlotte’s Jon Lindsay’s other projects — the man likes to stay busy, which I admire whole-heartedly — a songwriting collaboration with guitarist Mike Mitschele. More electric and sunny than Lindsay’s acoustic-ish solo writing, their debut LP kicks off with the title track, which is a joyful romp through harmonized choruses and synthesizer solos; and the strength of the record continues in Lindsay and Mitschele’s vocals, the plaintively uplifting choruses and the counterpoint during the verses of songs like “Younger Every Summer” and “Back in the Band”. It’s got blues swelling up under the pop, like the growling guitar line in “Start This Fire”; chiming synthesizers from the best New Wave songs in “Ambulance”; and those harmonies, above all, all over the record. It’s a springtime kind of album, the promise of something new, the promise of something changing. It’s a stunning debut of collaboration from two real talents who are both long-time veterans of the Charlotte scene (Mitschele played with Athaneaum), and it’s really worthy of attention, which I hope it gets in 2012 if not in 2011.
OKAY NOW NO MORE 2011 ALBUMS, I CAN’T COPE. And I am not going to listen to anything out in 2012 until 1/1/2012, even if it’s sitting in my iTunes. The end. (Go buy both of these albums.)