BUY IT, BURN IT, SKIP IT: The Black Keys, Colour Revolt, R.E.M.

THE BLACK KEYS: You don’t love me anymore, do you, Pat?

By Aaron Richter

As you all certainly know by now, new releases hit record-store shelves and digital-download services each Tuesday. So every week self-titled presents a new release you’d be stupid not to own (Buy It), one worth checking out if you’re the curious type (Burn It) and something you might have heard about but probably should avoid (Skip It). Simple, ain’t it?

Vintage Video Clip: The Black Keys, “Your Touch”


Buy It
The Black Keys, Attack & Release (Nonesuch)

As legend has it, the Black Keys bumped studio fuzzies with Ike Turner before the late legend’s passing, and the in-the-works tracks sorta, kinda became the root inspiration for this record. Though we’d give our left nipple and a ham sandwich to have heard a Turner/Keys collabo, an arrangement with Danger Mouse is a fine alternative. Yet it must be said that whenever we hear the name Danger Mouse associated with a project, we always assume the band will have a helluva time working against the guy’s sickly studio tendencies. DM production tends to feel like you’re trapped in an episode of Scooby Doo–which he does here on the chorus of “Psychotic Girl,” toward the end of “I Got Mine” and the goofed-up Parliament keys of “Strange Times.” But the Keys are clearly in the drivers seat for this jaunt. Dan Auerbach’s vocals race his guitar to peel off the skin on your face while drummer Patrick Carney keeps everything loosey-goosey, skillfully avoiding the Danger Mouse pitfall of pitifully stiff percussion. This being the first time the 4-trackin’ blues duo has done its garage bit from a real studio, tracks appear more calculated, sufficiently fuller, less satisfied with simply being guitar/drum riff-factories. It’s a great turn for the group, without falling toward experimentation. Stick with your guns–just make ’em better. We can dig it.

[Photo by Jitlin Chatlani]

Burn It
Colour Revolt, Plunder, Beg, and Curse (Fat Possum)

We first found ourselves intrigued by these Mississippi boys when a reissued self-titled EP rippled through our speakers with a hard-churned fury. It was really loud. And we loved it something major, but self-titled (along with the rest of the music-listening public) briskly forgot about the group when no album followed. Until now. While delivering on much of the EP’s blistering promise with such tracks as the shredded “Swamp,” Plunder, Beg, and Curse feels timid, unsure whether to rock hard or concentrate deeply. Vocalist Jesse Coppenbarger wavers between a fantastic bluesy, hoarse growl (“Naked and Red”) and an unmoving, light Thom Yorke (“Moses of the South”), the latter of which loses itself in the abyss of college-band yet-again-ness. The guitars are toned down (a shame), yet the songwriting steps up (a joy). And with about half of a really great record, we’re left to reach for that fantastic debut EP and turn that shit up.

MP3: “Naked and Red”

MP3: “A Siren”

Skip It
R.E.M., Accelerate (Warner Bros.)

What’s the next step after releasing the worst record of your career? For R.E.M. it’s to tuck behind a hefty dose of PR, admit your mistakes and insist this new jam is a return to form, your best album since your last good album. How many times have we heard this bullshit before? This is spin, people, and you’re falling for it. We’ll give the album its moments–“Hollow Man” sounds like Guided by Voices (which is kinda rad) and the title track surely pumps out a ton of noise and energy (louder = better, if we’re reaching for compliments). But because you’re good, loyal self-titled readers, we expect that you’ll spend the time one might take to listen to this album and discover something new. Here’s some suggestions: Try Googling songwriter Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Scottish group Frightened Rabbit, or this band out of Philly called The War on Drugs. You’ll thank us later.