A 500 minute IPA, and 40 minutes of Bliss

Last night, I had the privilege of tasting the best IPA I’ve had since Dogfishhead’s  90 minute IPA. It was Arbor’s 500 minute IPA, weighing in at a hefty 10.7% and giving you a hammer of a headache if consumed without caution. BUT, it was delightfully refreshing, with some sick-nasty hoppy flavors that tie your tongue in knots of joy. If you find it, eat it.

One last paragraph about El Camino, which I’ve managed to get a nice preview of:

This is a classic example of an album that needs to be listened in its entirety if you’re disappointed by a few tracks. After a complete listen, those tracks re-emerge as scintillating extracts from an album that (yes) is a considerable deviation from a band that has been known to stick to its guns. When listened to as a whole, though, you realize that not a minute out of the 38 has been wasted to a dull moment. The effect of listening to El Camino – no doubt the fastest-paced Black Keys album – is similar to that of drinking a Red Bull: once you’ve started, you’re plugged in and energized, and don’t realize how much you’ve been artificially juiced until it’s over and you have to pee. As a whole, the album features a lot more instrumentation than we’ve heard before, as well as a consistent use of gospel-choir harmonizing. In other words, Danger Mouse’s stanky-ass hand is all over this shindig, and if it didn’t sound so fucking good, I would hunt him down for making The Black Keys just another vehicle for his dumbass “look at me I’m an artist” production. That said, you can’t take the guitar out of the Keys, and these songs feature some of the best solos we’ve heard since “Everywhere I Go” on Thickfreakness – just give “Little Black Submarines” and “Gold on the Ceiling” a listen. As usual, I’m drawn to the more soulful B-sides: Dead and Gone, Stop Stop, and Nova Baby sound almost like typical indy songs, but there’s a rawness to them that makes them bleed where indy pop cries. They’re wonderfully crafted, catchy, and joyful. The low points seem to actually be the returns to riff-driven melodies. Money Maker, Hell of a Season, and Mind Eraser (the bass-line for which is a dead ringer for the Stones’ “Miss You”) get weighed down by guitar-bass grooves. All in all, these songs rock and are devalued only because of their excellent company. If you listen to it as faithfully as I plan to, you’ll get a new song stuck in your head every day, and thank iTunes for the moment you get to listen to it again… or for the moment the next Black Keys album drops.

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