The Black Keys – El Camino: #785 of best 1,000 albums ever!

The Black Keys - El Camino

Why is The Black Keys’ El Camino on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

This one trucks (vans?), hammers, and stomps.

What does The Black Keys’ El Camino mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

The Black Keys are another band I’ve had a little bit of a strange relationship with (also see: Pearl Jam’s Ten: #790 of best 1,000 albums ever).

They’re one of those bands for me where I’ve always felt I should like them more than I do. I’ve always certainly respected them, and there’s a swath of their output that I kind of appreciate and think is fine more than really dig (if you can dig).

El Camino is where the band puts it all together for me, at least for my very specific peculiarities and tastes. It’s a tight album both in terms of the number of songs (11) and in terms of how each song trucks along like a finely oiled machine. Or maybe “vans along” is more appropriate, given the wood-paneled automobile on the album cover?

Powerful action verbs come to mind while I listen to El Camino: trucks, hammers, stomps, with a few occasional clomps maybe. It’s Danger Mouse’s production that leavens that force with a quirkiness and shimmer and glammy-ness that gives every song a really compelling texture.

“Gold on the Ceiling” represents these sentiments best, a bluesy hard rock powerhouse of a number for which stomping your foot coverings on the floor (or ceiling, depending on one’s mood) would not be wholly inappropriate.

I have to add that I always appreciate a music video that gives you a real sense of a band or musician as they perform or record, and this one does both.

“Lonely Boy” has many of the same vibes as “Gold on the Ceiling,” but dials back on the stomping vibe just enough to make it a little more of a groovier affair.

The more I listen to El Camino, the more I appreciate the quietest song on the album, “Little Black Submarines.” It’s got an acoustic Led Zeppelin-meets-Jack White vibe for its first half, before exploding into a power blues rock explosion.  

Some stats & info about The Black Keys – El Camino

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Garage Punk, Indie Rock, Hard Rock, Blues Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating4 out of 5 stars
  • When was El Camino released? 2011
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #785 out of 1,000

The Black Keys’ El Camino on Spotify

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.