Thursday, July 15, 2010

Guest Music Review: The Black Keys - Brothers

I can count the number of people who I respect for their musically taste on one hand, while holding a frosty Newcastle. Among that select company is my friend Ted. He has an excellent visual for how our musical tastes intersect. It's like a DNA strand, but it is more amusing to watch Ted pantomime it with his hands. For every band that we both adore, there is a band that one of likes and the other abhors. The Black Keys is one of our mutual bands. He has guest reviewed before and I asked him for this thoughts on Brothers, which I have reviewed earlier. Here is Ted's amusing and well written reflection of his first weekend with the Brothers CD.

So I went to Vegas with the wife, upgraded my lodging to the fancy "Venetian" to please her. Had a couple of beers at the airport ready to kick off my hour plane ride listening to the Keys. When I bought the new album at The Beat, (I think the world is better with them in business so I try to buy things from them even if it costs a few bucks more) I bought a Rolling Stone issue as well. I didn't think I could pass it up, it had a picture from 1972 of Mick on the cover. I picked it up and was ready to purchase it but the Rolling Stone underneath had a picture of 1972 Keith on it. Think about that, same magazine with different covers, forced to make a decision as to who was my favorite Rolling Stone during their greatest period. I went with Keith without thought. Then I had a thought - if they had one with a picture of Mick Taylor I would have chosen him. If I was the Key's I'm not sure if I would like to have my new album bought alongside a Rolling Stone magazine featuring the re-release of the greatest rock n roll album of all time. I made the purchase, got in the car, put the Keys on and made a vow that I would not open the magazine until I was on the plane going to Vegas. I'm not much of a fan of flying so keeping myself entertained carries a high priority.

Shelly knows not to F with me when I'm getting ready to fly so, like the good woman she has been to me for the past 20 something years, she immediately got me to the airport bar and made sure to order me the second tall bud right before they called us for boarding. She knew I wouldn't leave a drop and would therefore have to slam it. I don't think it's me she was looking out for.

So we get on the flight - Southwest group B. What is it with people having to sit in the front of the plane? I like the back, I'm more likely to have a vacant seat next to me, I can get my aisle seat in case I need to "leave" and it's closest to the beer lady. Shelly and I get our seats, someone came and sat in our aisle so Shelly gave her the window prompting the "why am I always the one elbow fighting the stranger" comment, I didn't hear it the first time because she whispered it and "Everlasting Light" was blaring through my iPod, fantastic song, great beat, Auerbach mixing his voice up, great back ground singers. That's how an album should start.

Looking at my Rolling Stone cover I was thinking more of the one with Mick on it and specifically how good Mick was at using his voice as an instrument, "Tops" off of Tattoo You is my favorite. Side note here: the back side (how do you say that in CD or iTune) of Tattoo You is unbelievable, possibly the most under appreciated stones album side ever. I was thinking how good the Stones were at bringing black, female background singers into their songs, Gimmie Shelter being the best which I think holds a strong argument for greatest Stones song ever, or at least the one I might choose if I could only listen to one more Stones song for the rest of my life. When I was growing up I wanted to be a black female background singer, actually I still do, or maybe I could settle for backing up Amy Winehouse, have you seen those guys?

I digress, we reach 10,000 feet and I can turn my iPod back on which is always a good feeling because it also means the engines are working properly and the pilots aren't going to have to turn around and make an emergency landing, or worse. I started the album over and re-listened to Everlasting Light, did I say it's a great opening song! "Love is the coal that makes this train roll", that will take your mind off a plane crash, or at least make it more palatable. I started reading my Rolling Stone, trying to go slow through the early pages but really just wanting to get to the Exile article. What a 1-2 punch Everlasting Light and Next Girl are, talk about great simple lyrics "that was a painful dance, now I got a second chance", reminds me of my all time favorite break up song "Dead Flowers" and the best line "I'll be in my basement room, with a needle and a spoon, and another girl to take my pain away." Hopefully I will just be able to dig the song and not need to pull emotional spirit out of it. On that note, I'm reading RS and Shelly see's the first page of the Exile article and grabs the magazine from me, I didn't get it back until we got off the plane. I did get another beer though and listened to more but not all of the album.

Here's where the problems start, I intended to run or do some type of workout while listening to the album, I told you how last years Vegas was "21st Century" Vegas and this years was going to be "Brothers" Vegas. I have traveled to FL, GA, SC, NC, MA and around CA in the past 12 months and without fail every single hotel room I was in had an iPod clock that recharges iPods, every single room. I made the conscious decision not to bring the iPod recharger because I was already carrying 50 pounds of shit for a 1 day 2 night trip, and I knew that a place as classy as the Venetian would have an iPod recgharger, they had to because every other F'ing hotel or dump for that matter had them, every single one. You guessed it. To make things worse, I think I left the iPod on so when I looked at it it was showing red in the charge area. Decided to save any charge for the plane ride home and to drink beer instead of working out.

Have you ever been to ICSC? It's basically 35,000 real estate guys in a convention hall that's the size of the grand canyon. Everyone has meetings all day long with people from the same town that they come from but for some reason you only feel the urgency to have a face to face meeting when you are in some other city. You end up standing on your feet on a concrete floor for 10 hours and for some reason it is absolutely exhausting.

After my day I decided to go back to the wonderful Venetian and have a beer. Shelly wasn't going to be done with her "treatment" until 6:30 so I set out to get a draft beer, I didn't think I was being too picky I wanted either Sierra Nevada or Anchor Steam, draft. I went to every single bar at the Venetian and some other behemoth hotel connected to it. I must have walked 2 more miles and seen 3 dozen places that served alcohol. Last chance was a Italian dinner type, white table cloth, uninviting restaurant. I was peaking around the maitre de, trying to see if I could see if they had any draft beer and the lady asks is she can help me. It's the end of a long day, I just want a F'ing Sierra or Anchor draft and I'm pissed about being holed up in this shithole of a place called the Venetian, in response I said "I'm sure you can't, nobody else can", in a way to sarcastic voice. I had become a dick. "I'm looking for a draft Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or an Anchor Steam, not a bottle, a draft", "yes sir, you can sit at the bar and drink all of the draft Sierra Nevada Pale Ale's you'd like, I however regret to inform you that we do not have Anchor Steam", the ten minutes sitting and watching the guy clean and dry his bar glasses right in front of me seemed like the right penance for my bad attitude and suddenly the world was right again. I thought you'd appreciate it and sent you a picture. It was a moment worth sharing.

Fast forward to the plane ride coming home, I have my RS ready to read and desperately little charge left on my iPod to listen to the Keys. Group B again, most guys let their wives walk in front of them when getting on a plane. I sit in the same spot. I'm on the aisle, stewardess comes on and says it's a full flight. I start hoping the fat guy walking down the aisle doesn't sit with us. He and his 4 other friends sit in the row in front of us. He must go 275, sits in the seat directly ahead of me and when he sits back I can basically massage his head with my hands in my lap.

The last 2 people on the plane are a skinny white girl dressed for Vegas with a pork pie hat (best song to have pork pie hat in the lyrics is Rudy Can't Fail on London Calling, top 3 album of all time) and her black boy friend. The stewardess says to the guy, your seat is in the back row and asks the girl to sit directly in front of Shelly, next to Mr. 275. Mr 275 has a friend who keeps making farting noises, it started when we were boarding and lasted through exiting the plane, I'm not making this shit up. So, the girl starts making sad faces at everyone in the rear of the plane because she just can't make it for an hour without siting next to her boyfriend, prompting the stewardess to say "Honey, you have the rest of your life to be next to him, I think you can make it an hour" classic, Southwest stuff.

I have my iPod on, waiting for it to shut down and am reading the Exile story, they go into who was actually drumming on a part of the song "Happy" and I couldn't help but change from the Keys, must have been the middle part of the record you didn't like, to Exile, . What a great album, best ever! What the Rolling Stones did while Mick Taylor was in the band was unbelievable, it will never be matched. Taylor should have been on the cover of Rolling Stone.

So my Vegas "Black Keys" trip didn't turn out to be. I have subsequently heard the album a few times and like it very much. I agree somewhat with your critique but if it takes a couple of mediocre songs to give me the ability to listen to the thumping beat and killer bass and awesome black female back up in Sinister Kid, "a drop dead sprint from the day he was born" or the classic Auerbach guitar in Unknown Brother or a great cover of the antithesis of decent music, Rick Astley, then I'm all for it. In the end, it may stray around a few decades of influence but in a day when no-one listens to albums any more, except me, why not give the people what they want?

No comments: