This week, The Black Keys venture further into the mainstream; Robert Downey Jr. turns in another fiery, fast-talking performance as everyone’s favorite detective; Homeland brings contemporary issues to premium cable; and we revisit a watershed moment in the illustrious history of the consumption of alcohol.
The Black Keys — El Camino
The Black Keys have been grinding away in the music industry for the better part of the last ten years. In that time, the Keys have gone from an unknown garage-blues duo from Akron, OH to near household names. Just this past week they played SNL, the Colbert Report, and Letterman all in support of their latest release, El Camino.
Longtime fans of Dan and Patrick—the guitarist/singer and drummer, respectively—will find that El Camino keeps in perfect step with last year’s Brothers and follows the increasingly mainstream sound the band has been cultivating over the past decade. The songs are still heavily influenced by the blues, but the added production from Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton fleshes out the bare, blues bones. Organs swirl underneath crunchy guitar licks; the bass lines amble nimbly behind handclaps, xylophones, and kick drum punches.
This additional instrumentation makes for the most accessible Keys album to date. And this is not a bad thing, hipsters. The Black Keys have managed to harness their garage roots for a wider audience while creating an old-fashioned, feel-good rock and roll record. Each song is instantly catchy and yes, every one does sound like it could potentially end up in a Chevy commercial, but there really isn’t anything wrong with that. There are few bands around today who could even attempt to put out such a consistently listenable album. Get ready to hear these songs everywhere.
— Justin Earley
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Robert Downey Jr. has cornered the market on gifted-yet-damaged anti-heroes. If you hate him, you’re in luck—A Game of Shadows is essentially 128 minutes of finding ways to beat the hell out of the diminutive motor mouth (don’t look now, but my bias is showing). On the other hand, fans of the franchise can look forward to plenty more of what made the first film so successful—fast-paced action sequences, a gripping plot, and Rachel McAdams sans emotional baggage. Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty will be a performance to watch—does he provide sufficient nuance to a complex character while sharing the screen with the scene-stealing Sherlock Holmes? You be the judge.
— Tom Barrabi
— David Rifkin
Video of the Week
A Handlebar staff favorite. For those of you unfamiliar with our friend Mr. Breezy, I just hope you’re ready. As you’ll soon discover, though, the real question is: “IS THE BOTTLE READY?”
— Yang-Yi Goh