Monday, 13 September 2010

The Black Keys 'Brothers' (2010)

Formed in Akron, Ohio in 2001, The Black Keys are an American blues rock and roll musical two piece consisting of vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer/producer Patrick Carney. Remaining relatively unknown and underground, their distinctive sound, that mixes classic blues vocals with a heavy soul beat proved popular amongst the kids, and The Black Keys hit notoriety through their 2003 record Thickfreakness, releasing three singles, the most well known being Set You Free, which was featured on the School of Rock soundtrack. Known for recording their early albums in less than a day, The Black Keys generated an impulsive and explosive sound that few have ever replicated.

Their new record however, Brothers, released in May of this year, broadens their sound and takes a different direction to their previous records. First off, taking longer to record, it feels as though The Black Keys are taking this album more seriously then the others. Not to negate their previous work, which in many instances has a fun and light-hearted tone to it, (especially the Thickfreakness record, feet tapping and head bopping all the way) but the tone is darker, and takes my ears through a mystical journey of despair, sorrow, highs and lows and basically, sees the duo in a more grown up light, without taking away any aspect from their original quick stepped sound that brought them to the forefront of contemporary rock blues today. (Check out the first single Tighten Up, with Next Girl, Never Give You Up, and I’m Not the One for stand out tracks.)

They’ve managed to bring an old style of blues to a modern ear, accessing multiple eargasms through various outlets; whether on the soundtrack to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, or on the video game Grand Theft Auto IV or in an episode of One Tree Hill. Would you call them Sell-outs? Maybe. But selling a sound that many thought had died years ago? Hell, I’ll buy a copy and help keep this great sound alive. Currently on a world tour and heading to our shores in November of this year, head on over to the Brixton Academy if you’re after a night of ear throbbing nostalgia, with a hint of contemporary sweat and some killer vocals. See you then.

Copyright Willemÿn Barker-Benfield

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Swinging with the Finkels (2010)

Martin Freeman has never been a leading man. Mandy Moore has never been this grown up in a British movie before. There’s a first for everything, and maybe there’s a reason why these two have not gone down this road of firsts.

Swinging with the Finkels is a romantic comedy directed and written by Jonathan Newman, about a married couple who have lost their spark and lust for one another, and are plodding through their life wondering if the grass is greener on the other side. Whether this grass be an affair, a divorce, or as the film decrees, to swing. Effectively they are to switch partners with another participating couple for one night to spice up their love life.

With the premise aside, this movie begins to tread down similar territory, with an upbeat Freeman making his best Hugh Grant impression whilst walking down a market that, although not Notting Hill, really really wants to be. Let’s face it, Swinging with the Finkels is a British movie, set in London, with an English and American cast, and at the first stages appears to have replaced the inner monologue from the leading man (Grant) with a Sex and the City style outer dialogue to the viewer through small captions. ‘It’s certainly not boring now!’ Really?!

I almost instantly felt confused by this movie. And not because the plot was complex, far from it, but confused by many factors. Why was Martin Freeman married to Mandy Moore? Why do they have two best friends, also with mixed nationalities, who are going through very similar problems? Why does their storyline almost take over Moore’s and Freemans? And why, after a few laughs and a short appearance from Jerry Stiller, are we now watching what appear to be outtakes from American Pie?! What’s going on? These questions are never really answered, and I’m left wondering what the point was. The movie struggles to pull at any heart strings, as you really don’t feel invested in the Finkels and don’t really care for their swinging, which incidentally brings to light another question, if swinging, why with Angus Deaton?!! More laughs or more convincing sentimentally would make Swinging with the Finkels a believable rom com, but for now, it certainly was boring.

Copyright Willemÿn Barker-Benfield