Monday, March 5, 2012

soundtrack of my life...

right now, on continual repeat, I have two CDs going: El Camino by The Black Keys and Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars. What do these two have in common besides being by 2-piece bands with 3-word names? They are both terrific, soulful, rock albums.

The Black Keys are one of my favorite bands. My husband has been a long-time fan and two years ago we saw them play an after Lollapalooza show at a small bar/venue called the Metro in Chicago. We were front row and it was one of the coolest shows I have ever seen. Their sound is amazing. They don't put on a big spectacle, they are just two uber-talented guys from Akron, Ohio, who play guitar and drums, and just simply rock.

The Black Keys in Cincinnati. Source
Their music reminds me of a combination blues/70s/southern rock. It's smart, clean, and flawlessly executed. Their album Brothers is my favorite of the bunch but El Camino is a close second. In fact, I just saw them in concert on Friday night and they did not disappoint. Even in an arena, they stayed true to their simple style and whipped the crowd into a 90-minute frenzy of solid rock music.

The Civil Wars. Source
On the flip side of The Black Keys' traditional rock style are The Civil Wars. This duo, made up of Joy Williams and John Paul White (who looks like he could be brothers with Jack White), offers up a beautiful haunting sound. Generally, I hate when people use the word "haunting" when describing something that isn't actually haunted, but one listen to the rich blend of their voices and that is the only word that seems to fit. The music and lyrics ache with emotion and the soft melodies seem simple but draw out a complex set of emotions.

My first introduction to The Civil Wars was at this year's Grammy Awards when they played before and introduced Taylor Swift's performance. For my money, the roles should have been reversed. Their strength, sound and talent totally eclipse Taylor's breathy pop tunes. I could listen to them sing all day long, and most days I actually do. A folk/indie/country blend, Barton Hollow is quickly becoming one of my favorite albums of all times. It even includes a slowed down, stripped down cover of I Want You Back by the Jackson Five that is almost unrecognizable but at the same time a loving tribute to the classic hit.

The Black Keys and The Civil Wars – two remarkable groups, two fantastic albums.

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