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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

Meet the Staff
Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
News Editor

I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

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About us

The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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The Black Keys drive album to top of list

The Black Keys are single-handedly saving popular music from the fakeness and softness that has been infused in the music industry in recent years. They are doing so by bringing a smash mouth style, mixing soul, blues and southern rock to the mainstream of music.

The band consists of only two members: Dan Auerbach on the guitar and lead vocals and Patrick Carney on drums and production.

The group has made a career of soulfully mixing blues and rock music together to form a heavily stylized and genuine sound. The duo’s latest album, “El Camino” is a perfect showcase of that sound. “El Camino” features the group’s standard of guitar, percussion and bluesy vocals.

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However, it also employs an array of backing instruments to complement their individual skills. The album includes tambourines, organs and quite a bit of female soul vocals to back up the singing of Auerbach.

An interesting facet of the group is the chemistry and continuity that can be sensed in their songs. While listening to this album I could hear on different tracks more of a focus on one of either Auerbach’s guitar or Carney’s drums. The sharing of the spotlight shows unselfishness from which both members benefit.

The song “Dead and Gone” begins with drums and those drums, along with other percussion instruments, produce a very unique beat to the song.

In this particular song, Auerbach is still his usual great self, but it feels as if he is simply laying on complimentary vocals and guitar licks over the beat of his partner’s drums.

In the very next track, “Little Black Submarines,” the listener is treated to a display of Auerbach’s wide range of immense talents as a guitarist and a singer. The first two minutes of the song are just vocals and a rare appearance of a beautifully slow acoustic guitar.

The drums then kick in, the guitar switches to electric, the duo rocks extremely hard for two and half more minutes, and Auerbach lays down some of his best work of the album with an electric guitar.

These two tracks are some of the first a listener hears and sets the tone for the rest of the album. This back and forth that the group features, in which both members get opportunities to showcase their individual skills and then come together as a perfect match, creates great chemistry throughout the album.

The group only has two members but has developed many different techniques to create a complex texture on “El Camino”.

The use of layering of multiple guitar tracks with varying degrees of distortion is one of these techniques. Also the mixing in of organs to match and compliment the guitar creates a very hypnotic groove.

That groove is further complimented by the bluesy, soulful voice of Auerbach. The distortion of his voice through the use of different microphones also creates a great deal of texture to the lyrics.

While their music is catchy and very enjoyable to listen to, it’s also very home-grown and true to their blues and southern rock style and influence.

The group has sold over 2 million albums in the U.S., not including sales from “El Camino.” They have performed on the Late Show with David Letterman as well as at the biggest music festivals in the world, including Coachella and Lollapalooza. Just this year the band sold out Madison Square Garden within 15 minutes of tickets going on sale.

I have only one criticism of the band. The lyrical content is on occasion repetitive. The main example of this is in the song “Gold on the Ceiling;” the chorus goes, “They want to get my.” This lyric is almost identical to the chorus of the band’s 2008 hit, “I Got Mine.”

Nevertheless, for the most part, the lyrics are genuine and filled with a great deal of emotion. Virtually every track on “El Camino” is completely new and fresh but still works perfectly with the tracks around it.

The Black Keys have created heavy blues-rock music that can hold its own with any of the classics of past decades and have done it while withstanding pressure to be more pop orientated.

The thing that sets “El Camino” and the Black Keys apart from the crowd and makes them exceptional is the emotion and substance that can be found in their music. When you listen to “El Camino,” you are getting the genuine article, nothing fake or watered down.

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