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The Black Keys Brothers

520266-1

Our Rating

VR's Rating4

Audience

Audience4.3

520266-1

Our Rating

VR's Rating4

Audience

Audience4.3

THIS PRESSING

Nonesuch Records

520266-1

  • Music
    4.5
  • Sound
    4
  • Pressing
    4.5
  • Jacket
    3.5
Vance Hiner

Written By

Vance Hiner

When listening to this album I think of this band or music:

Brothers reminds me of the best Howlin’ Wolf records as well as Tom Waits’ Island releases.

I would listen to this album while:

Put Brothers on for late-night drinking, smoking, and, well,…you know.

Music from this album would be a great soundtrack to this movie:

This would be a good soundtrack for any Jim Jarmusch movie.


From the pulsating Delta blues vamp on the opening track to the Ennio Morricone sample on “Tighten Up,” Brothers is a roots-rock album brimming with ghosts and mystery. Guitarist Dan Auerbach’s superb songwriting and arrangements—coupled with Patrick Carney’s tasteful and gut-shaking drum work—make it the sincerest tribute to 50s and 60s blues icons in recent memory. Soul numbers like “Too Afraid to Love You” feel every bit as compelling as Amy Winehouse’s most memorable fare. From start to finish, Brothers serves as a thrilling musical ride from Clarksdale up to Memphis and back, with a few interesting side trips along the way.

Notably, Auerbach and Carney were on the verge of breaking up just months before they hauled their equipment down to Alabama for these sessions. Once they set up in at the legendary Muscles Shoals Sound Studios—the first artists to do so in three decades—Auerbach claims haunting coincidences and circumstances began to mold the sound. Random electrical problems forced the pair to stick to just 10 tracks and to rely on a vintage Studer tape deck. Odd acoustics caused by the space’s flexible wooden floors prompted the band to boost bass EQ and drum volume. The result? Mojo in every sense of the word.

Producer Tchad Blake’s work on Brothers comes on as a master class on how to mix a greasy, gritty album without sacrificing high-fidelity fun. The set possesses rich, layered sound even while maintaining a plethora of sharp edges and accenting distortion. The record gets better the louder you play it. In addition, bass and drums are notoriously tricky to get right on vinyl, yet Chris Bellman’s lacquer cut aces the challenge. And Nonesuch’s dead-quiet pressing boasts a full dynamic range. A complimentary compact disc comes with the package, but when the wax is this good, the CD will likely gather dust.