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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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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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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 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 27 January 2012
I only discovered the Black Keys through Keep it Hid, Dan's solo album but fell in love with the sound and have been collecting their back catologue ever since, when the last Black Keys album came out, Dan said in an interview that they had made a more commercial album to make some money to fund their 'not so commercial' blues sound, it looks like fame got them hooked just like Elbow and Kings of Leon before them, they had a taste, liked it and now dont want to go back. That said this album is still far better that most new cds around today, Dan's voice and guitar skills still awesome and there are some really great tracks on the album, Little Black Submarines being my favourite. I dont mind DangerMouse producing them, he has done some great work with Sparklehorse, Black Lips etc and he produced the wonderful Attack and Release. But I will keep my fingers crossed that their next offering will be a little less mainstream
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on 29 December 2011
Let me make one thing clear, before I downloaded this album, I had never heard anything by The Black Keys. Yes, I had read some good things but when I saw the album for £3.99 as a download from Amazon, I thought that I would give it a go,
As soon as I played it on Windows Media player just after I had burned it, I thought that this sounded exciting and I have been playing it ever since
After playing this album I have been reading more about the band, looking at other reviews on Amazon and have already bought three of their earlier albums. There obviously seems to be those who think that the early stuff is much better and there are points made that this album is not original and that it has been done before. You know what - I don't care. Yes, it's not that original but the songs are great and fun. All bands are influenced by others, but it it is those bands that use those influences to greater effect shine through. The Rolling Stones being the main example of this,
I really cannot fault the album. I can't say that there is one weak track. Stand outs (at the moment) are Lonely Boy, Stop Stop and Little Black Submarine.
I am surprised at myself for not discovering them earlier, but if you like great guitar bands like The Gun Club and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, then you will love this album.
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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 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 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 5 January 2014
El Camino is ...

1. A very good, commercial, pop rock album.
2. Much better than the overlong and unfocused 'Brothers'. 'El Camino' is a mean, lean eleven tracks and clocks in at less than forty minutes.
3. The work of three and not two men. Danger Mouse co-wrote all the songs with Dan and Pat, and his production work is really in-your-face and slick. This is not the sound of one guitarist/singer and one drummer captured on basic recording equipment.
4. A very long way from their early, raw, bluesy stuff. Whether you think that's a good thing or not is a personal matter.
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on 20 March 2015
The spirit of Tom Joad echoes through these songs. They are all the more sad for the realisation that - in the absence of a contemporary 'New Deal' - for many this is as good as its ever going to be for the protagonists of these heartfelt songs. BRILLIANT.
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