Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys side project, The Arcs, put out their debut album "Your Dreamily" today and I'm here to tell you, you need to buy this album, not only if you're a fan of the Black Keys, but if you're a fan of experimental rock/blues/funk/R&B/spaghetti western music.
Dan Auerbach and the members of the band(Richard Swift, Leon Michaels, Homer Steinweiss, Nick Movshon, and features Kenny Vaughan and Mariachi Flor de Toiloache) take a bunch of chances, and more times than not, they knock it out of the park. I had heard the leaked tracks, "Outta My Mind" and "Stay in My Corner" about a month ago and I was immediately on board. "Outta My Mind" is a Black Keys esque rock song, but that's where what I call spaghetti western music comes into play. There's a keyboard playing music that sounds like it's straight out of an old Clint Eastwood western. I've always liked this sound, what I will now call the spaghetti western sound, in the old western movies, so I really liked hearing it on a rock record. "Stay in My Corner" is a sweet love song. It's really funky, yet psychedelic at the same time. I love the mixtures of genres within a song. Other great early tracks include, "Put A Flower in Your Pocket" and "Cold Companion". "Put A Flower in Your Pocket" is a straight up spaghetti western song. It sounds like it could be on the soundtrack for "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly". There's awesome guitar and that really cool keyboard sound. It's a great song. "Cold Companion" is a bit more of a blues/rock, Black Keys style song. Auerbach plays some really solid solos on this song. Auerbach is an awesome guitar player and he gets better and better with his vocals with each album he puts out.
The first nine songs are all in the spaghetti western, blues, rock genre. The last five songs find them making a complete genre change. The back half of the album turns into a funky, R&B record, and I couldn't be happier about it. Songs like "Velvet Ditch" and "Searching the Blue" are straight up R&B songs, but they add horns to each one, making them really funky. "Velvet Ditch" is where the album makes the switch. It starts out like a rock song, but then it slows down and has Auerbach showing off his falsetto voice. It's, for all intents and purposes, an R&B song. And just when you think it can't get any funkier, here come the horns. It's a great addition to the sound the band is looking for. "Searching the Blue" is the closing track on the album and it is horn and guitar heavy. Auerbach croons while crushing it on the guitar and the horns are dynamite. The genre switch is Richard Swift putting his stamp on this album. He's been touring with the Black Keys the past couple of years, playing bass, but he's put out solo albums himself, and he has a very folksy/funky/R&B sound to his music. He's a great musician and you should go out and buy his solo stuff if you enjoy this album.
I love that Auerbach is taking chances like this lately. He's really branching out with his music. He wrote all the songs on the last Black Keys album, "Turn Blue", and that was a very Pink Floydian type of album. This album, "Your Dreamily" and this new band, The Arcs, show him trying his hand at R&B and psychedelia music. He is so much better than Jack White at everything he chooses to do musically. He's also a better person from what I hear about Jack White. I love this album and I love that Auerbach and Carney are good enough friends that each can do their own side projects. It's really going to help the Black Keys get better and better with each album they put out in the future, having so many different styles of music that they are able to play.
Go out and buy "Yours Dreamily", sit back and the enjoy the cool, funky, spaghetti western, smooth R&B music that they play. It's really, really good.
I am not kidding, it is really, really good.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the co host of the X Millennial Man podcast. He was debating how many albums a band needs to be considered one of The Greatest American Rock Bands. Follow Ty on twitter @tykulik.