BLACK KEYS, THE: The Big Come Up: CD

Feb 18, 2009

I recently returned from a five-day, sin-filled excursion to New Orleans where the abundant bayous and waterways are densely shaded in a thick forest of moss-enshrouded cypress trees. It’s a unique and archaic region of the Deep South where dragonflies aimlessly buzz through the droopy, humid air and the spicy smell of boiling crawfish seems to forever linger heavily in the atmosphere throughout all hours of the day. So I’m here to tell you all, The Black Keys perfectly capture the magical, forbidden, and mysterious essence of the fetid, snake-infested river bottoms of Dixie country. This hoodoo-daddy duo authentically replicates the sparse, poverty-stricken sounds of an old, gnarled black man sittin’ on the front porch of his ramshackle shanty-shack and musically moanin’-and-groanin’ to the all-natural rhythm of a mid-summer night’s howlin’ wind. But these two disheveled white-boy minstrels add enough of a flavorfully piquant dash of lean and mean, blue-eyed aggression to the mix that it flawlessly gels into a sumptuous swirl of Mississippi mudwater garage-blues. The vocals are soulful, pained, emotional, and profusely drenched in gritty, downtrodden manliness. The gut-tormentin’ guitar wails, weeps, and shrieks, but it ultimately cavorts like a sun-baked alligator slithering through the dark, murky waters of an uninhabited backwoods marsh. The shuffling, loose-steppin’ drums mercilessly pitter-patter along like huge drops of torrential rain ricocheting off the tin roof of a dilapidated old chicken shed stuck way out in the boonies somewhere all by its lonesome. Mercy, mercy me; I’ve now heard this century’s Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix all rolled into one (but “Busted” could very well be a long-lost outtake from ZZ Top’s first album, “Leavin’ Trunk” sounds uncannily like Cream’s “Politician”, and the blazin’ ragtag rendition of The Beatles’ “She Said, She Said” is raucously southern-fried to all-out exquisite magnificence!). Indeed, this hot and zesty CD pristinely possesses the bare-bones, back-to-basics sound of long, dusty dirt roads, vast overgrown stretches of thriving cotton fields, and grandiose Southern antebellum architecture surrounded by squalor, misery, heartache, and hardships aplenty. Pass the jug, Uncle Jed, I’m a-comin’ home.

 –guest (Alive)