As far as enjoying music goes, 2011 has been a very cloudy year for me. The gloominess began with The White Stripes breaking up, but it ended with The Black Keys’ new album El Camino. The whole story’s up at 10Listens.com:
When it comes to love and music, I’m a big, gooey romantic. The only difference is that in love, I’ve basically been a serial monogamist, rarely hesitant to jump into a new committed relationship even if I just had my heart wrecked by an old committed relationship. With music, of course, I’m free to swing. Radiohead won’t get jealous if I also fall in love with Clinic, just like I won’t get jealous sharing my love of The Fiery Furnaces with some of my bros.
When I fell in love with The White Stripes though, it was something extra-extra-special. I was hearing them for the very first time through a pair of puffy listening-station headphones in the 4th Street & Broadway Tower Records, and as “Fell In Love With A Girl” finished whupping my ass and screeched to a halt, I felt like I had found The One. I had loved many other bands before then, but the first 4 tracks of White Blood Cells felt like practically everything I loved about American music rolled into one ultra-wonderful Voltron that I never realized I always wanted. Jack & Meg continued to be my main musical squeeze from that moment on, and when they called it quits last Groundhog Day, it crushed my tender music-loving heart.
It’s not fair, perhaps, yet unavoidable, far as I’m concerned, for me to talk about The White Stripes so much when I should be reviewing the new Black Keys album. Thing is, I never got into The Black Keys before precisely because of The White Stripes. I’d hear The Black Keys now and then, watch them play a tune on a late night talk show, and I’d think, These guys rock all right, but I guess I only have room in my heart for one duo that stands in the shadows of Motown with warped blues guitars and cave-stomp drums. But now that The White Stripes are gone (at least until the inevitable reunion), it’s The Black Keys that have done the most special thing a band has done for me in a very long time. Maybe not extra-extra-special, but special enough. But first, back to The White Stripes.