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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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It's a Black Keys album and you pretty much know what your going to get. This is the seventh outing from the great Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach. They work in what is somewhat restricted musical seam yet they seem to manage to squeeze every ounce of funky blues and soul base metal from its core and add their own little discoveries. It all adds up to a quality product but one in "El Camino" which adds a bit more grease and motor oil to the usual mix creating what is one of their best hard rocking blues barrages in sometime in contrast to the more laidback "Brothers" album. Equally the bands honorary third member Dangermouse (Brian Joseph Burton) is at the control desk again and has decided to place a welcome emphasis on the pop hooks in these 11 great songs and for once the bass player gets a proper look in.

It all kicks off with two thumpers the overpowering "Lonely boy" and the brilliant "Dead and gone". It all sounds effortless with the former containing a killer sing-along chorus and a pounding fuzzy riff while the latter contains .......ahem, a killer sing-along chorus and pounding fuzzy riff! A great start and the foot is barely taken off the gas with the glam rock of "Gold on the ceiling" which you can almost visualise the great Marc Bolan singing in the heyday of T Rex. The pace cools for the initially acoustic "Little black submarines" gently sung by Auerbach but breaks out into a massive electric beast halfway through with a riff that does echo Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's last dance". It's a real standout track and followed by keepers like "Money maker" and the funky "Run right back". The track "Sister" sounds like one of those classic tracks built for FM rock radio which you imagine that Paul Rodgers could happily cover. It could easily be a single although there is plenty of competition, while the soulful "Hell of a season" might just be the best track on the album. The final three tracks are the "Stop Stop" a sort of mix of Stax soul and garage rock, the incredibly commercial belter that is "Nova Baby" where Auerbach blues-tinged vocals are at their absolute best and the concluding song "Mind eraser" which would have happily sat on "Attack and release".

Granted there is little new ground broken here and "El Camino" is a not a demanding listen. You could also argue that the explorations and R&B excursions of "Brothers" have been firmly contained in a framework which represents a souped up version of their earlier work. But whose complaining? It's the Black Keys offering up a great rock album sardine packed with top notch songs. After a number of listens "El Camino" reveals itself as a fresh, exhilarating and occasionally an almost glam rock orientated album from a band which has proved one of the most enduring of its generation while many of their contemporaries have fallen by the waste side or hysterically imploded. For a band that was often brutally criticized for being the "White Stripes lite" there must be real satisfaction in their ongoing achievement and a modest level of gloating is completely in order.
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on 17 December 2011
For years now, I've lived and breathed the music these guys make, which means that I'm a complete snob. They were awesome long before breaking from their blues rock style to make a modern rock album that would finally make money. In my view, they don't have to live up to the popular success of Brothers, but the success of their distinctive sound from years ago.

I had thought, on first listening to El Camino, that it was a good, solid rock album. I didn't have much to say beyond that. In fact, there's not a song on it that I dislike, which isn't the case for any other Black Keys album. However, I just wasn't all that fussed over El Camino because I felt that it was lacking exactly what's made me and many others obsess over The Black Keys for so many years: that pure soul and grit, a compulsive and compelling sound that marks the separation between their 'old music' and 'new music'. That blues sound has receded and been replaced with... well, we're not quite sure. I'm not the first to utter my misgivings that they're going the same way as The Kings of Leon.

So I got over it, and listened to the album for what it is: awesome music, and in a completely different style. For a long while I was every bit as hooked as I have been in the past. Whatever their sound, The Black Keys are still producing great music with plenty of flair - just a touch less integrity. Several months on, and having seen them on tour a few times in recent years, I can say that this music doesn't lend itself to the raw, awesome solos that we're used to, but it's still pretty good.

The album is worth the price, and just about worth the 5 stars.
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on 7 December 2011
When I heard 'Brothers' for the first time I remember thinking "Yes! They finally made it!".
And they did.
It's not funny anymore when the whole world knows your secret favorite band but these guys really deserve it.
'El Camino' is different enough to keep things interesting and wins another 5 stars easily.
It's a little shorter in songs and time than 'Brothers' but the songs here are all good.
That's all you need to know really.
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on 9 September 2012
First class album with so may good tracks, a real soulful sound especially on stop stop , love the backing vocals. Makes me we want to hunt the entire back catalogue and see them live. Especially enjoy little black submarine and lonely boy . This cd passes way too fast which a good sign of quality more please.
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on 28 December 2011
Friend of mine had a CD on in his workshop whilst we were restoring an old Beetle.

"Wow!" I said "What is this?!"

The guitars were so heavy, so gritty with a voice I'd not heard before. It was the Black Keys Rubber Factory.

This was 5 or so years ago and I never did get around to buying that album. Couple of weeks ago I was reminded of the Black Keys and bought El Camino. What a let down. This is a weak album. Don't get me wrong there are some good tracks on here and its a decent enough album but it lacks the grime and dirt that made Rubber Factory for me.

Gold on the Ceiling and especially Lonely Boy are the stand out tracks. But, and showing my age here, I've heard Lonely Boy before. There is nothing new and feels like a 21st Century version of something T-Rex might do. In fact the album felt more glam rock than heavy blues.

El Camino is too polished, too well produced with little or no feeling in many of the tracks. It feels like a studio album from a band told to produce another album by their record company.

I like the Black Keys gritty and raw and this is neither.
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on 12 November 2015
This is my top favourite Black Keys album next to Brothers. The tunes are infectiously catchy, with Gold on the ceiling ,being one of the best tracks on there although its very hard to narrow it down. These guys rarely write a bad song, and every single album is crammed full of hypnotic guitar riff and soulful vocals.. Im would highly recommend these guys to anyone and everyone.
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on 13 December 2011
The best Black Keys album in my opinion. The usual Black Keys sound but more uplifting than ever. Give it a try, even if you've never listened to them before, you'll love it, guaranteed.

Best song on here for me has to be Money Maker but you've just got to love the glam rock sound of Gold on the Ceiling, Sister is also fabulous and soulful and Run Right Back is a great tune that needs turning up nice and loud.

The whole album will have you singing along, dancing away, tapping your feet and pressing the repeat button over and over again! buy it!
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on 29 December 2011
To be absolutely honest, I had never heard of The Black Keys until very recently when I read a review in a weekend newspaper about their forthcoming release, "El Camino". The review was so good and as El Camino was still to be released, I decided to listen on line to their previous musical offerings and was so blown away that I immediately purchased the album "Brothers" and pre-ordered "El Camino" from Amazon.
I have to say these two guys produce some of the best music that I have heard in years. The depth/variety of the songs, the haunting guitar and rhythmic beat of the drums really create an album of real quality. I play the two albums constantly and seem to find something new every time I listen. Strangely though, the "odd song" sometimes reminds me a little of "The Hives" from back in 2001, although of course the final offering is much more professional.
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on 26 October 2015
Some very good tracks that I have never even come across before. Apart from Lonely Boy and Gold on the ceiling as most likely everyone knows by now, there are some epic tracks such as Little Black Submarines and Stop Stop. As well as many others that I have to say seem just as good as the ones we know and love. Overall, a very good album and a must buy for anyone's taste.
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on 30 December 2011
Purist fans of the two piece Black Keys have expressed their doubts about the latest, and possibly best of the Black Keys contributions to R&B based white rock - but they are wrong. This is one fabulous disc.

Building on the expansion in Brothers - a great record by my standards - adding a bass and keyboards, and a new producer -not only does not hurt the Black Keys, it makes them a great normal band. Dan writes, sings and plays great songs, and Patrick adds his drumming, production and sense of insanity to one of the great iconoclastic bands of the last decade.

From the kickoff track, Lonely Boy,the album shows its wares. It fills the ears - Stop Stop, Nova Baby, Run Right Back. Where are the dud tracks, I kept asking myself? Nowhere on this record is there a dull moment, an unmemorable riff, a foot placed wrong. Yet it still has some of the rough edges of earlier recordings, the unpolished sound is still there.

Fresh as a daisy - and in the UK in February, this is a must own, must see band.
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