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Josh T. Landow

CD of The Week

Week of 7/01/19

    The Black Keys - Let's Rock' (Easy Eye Sound / Nonesuch)

    When we last heard from The Black Keys, they released the moody, post-breakup record Turn Blue. After working together non-stop for well over a decade, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney took some much-needed time apart to work on a wide variety of other projects. Auerbach formed a new band, The Arcs, and released a solo record, while Carney worked behind the scenes on numerous other artists' albums. But there was never any sort of official "breakup" and the Keys are back together again, making noise on 'Let's Rock'.

    The new material is full of Auerbach's guitar riffs and the band's garage-blues-rock vibe that they've crafted throughout their catalog. However, the lack of keyboards on the record can likely be attributed to the duo themselves producing the record, instead of Danger Mouse.

    "Shine a Little Light" kicks off the album (even though Auerbach just used "Shine on Me" as the title of a solo single), followed by the redundantly named "Eagle Birds," which I propose becomes the soundtrack to Carson Wentz's 2019 season. (Is it too much to ask that it replaces the "Eagles Fight Song" altogether?) There're plenty of classic rock vibes to go around, from lead single "Lo/Hi," which channels The Rolling Stones with its backing chorus of female vocals, to "Under the Gun" and "Tell Me Lies."

    "Go" should be the rock single of the summer, especially with its opening lyric about how "In the summertime, when it's hot outside / The streets are bare, there's no one there, and the valley is wide." Auerbach has never been the deepest lyricist and the guy who wrote "Lonely Boy" also sings "Don't nobody wanna be lonely / Everybody wanna be loved sometime" on "Eagle Birds." Sometimes the simplicity pays off, like on the sweet "Sit Around and Miss You."

    Those quotation marks around the album title may seem ironic, but the Keys definitely want to rock here. (The title is actually quoting the last words of a man executed in the electric chair!) However, half of 'Let's Rock' feels like another Black Keys-by-numbers record. You know what you're getting for many of these songs and at this point in their career, they aren't going to really dissuade anyone's opinion of their music. But if you want to hear the duo rock in person, The Black Keys return to Philadelphia at The Wells Fargo Center, with Modest Mouse opening, on October 14th.

    **Donate $15 or more to Y-Not Radio to receive a download of 'Let's Rock'. Click here for details.
    Review by Joey O.

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