Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dan Auerbach's new album is the burst of summer you're looking for.

Photo by Alysse Gafkjen
So I admit that I’d been avoiding listening to the new Dan Auerbach album. I don’t have anything personal against the dude, but I’d grown a little tired of him. I’ve been a fan since the earliest days of The Black Keys. When I met Mich I think they might have actually been one of her own personal top five bands at the time. I’ve seen him grow from tiny clubs like The Empty Bottle to selling out Metro to working their way up through various Lollapalooza line-ups and selling out massive halls.

I think the turning point might’ve been a Lollapalooza after show at The Metro. Sine she loved the band so much I let Mich use my photo pass to shoot the band—and she did a fine job, she does know how to use a camera! But the crowd was so full of aggro drunk dudes who wanted to fight anything that moved, people so far removed from what I thought the band’s fanbase was, that it gave me pause and I took a few steps back. Funny how shitty concert experiences can change your perception of a band sometimes. It’s not their fault they started attracting asshole fans, but once that happens it’s hard to separate the two.

And yes, I’ve admired Auerbach’s solo work and collaborations on the production side with other artists (mostly*) but much of it didn’t have the spark early Black Keys material had and felt too polished.

And then comes along his new album Waiting On A Song, which is certainly polished, but only inasmuch as it feels so fresh and well realized it’s slowly growing irresistible. It totally mixes earthy ‘60s and '70s vibes as Auerbach mixes Southern Cali vibes with Motwon swing, and super catchy pop cores.

It totally doesn’t hurt that he recruited a bevy of legends to come in the studio and monkey around on the songs. When you’ve got John Prine, Duane Eddy, Jerry Douglas, Russ Pahl, Pat McLaughlin, Bobby Wood and Gene Chrisman on your team there’s a good chance the game is gonna end with you winning by a pretty large margin.

And Waiting On A Song is a winning album, as in winning me over, as in winning the early starting gun for summer vibes, and as in winning me back into the camp of Auerbach. His stuff in The Arcs pointed at the direction this second proper solo album would take, but it didn’t have quite the same tight approach of the songwriting on Waiting On A Song.

I heard an interview on a Rolling Stone podcast this morning where Auerbach said that when writing this he unplugged from pretty much everything—the web, the media, other music—and just wrote tunes with the folks he was collaborating with. So that probably explains the neat economy of the mostly perfect realizing of the tunes on the final tracklist. And with a running time of 33 minutes there ain't a second of filler.

Huh, I meant for this post to be a quick paragraph or two and two videos. I guess I had more thoughts on Auerbach in general than I realized!

So yeah, I held off listening to the new Dan Auerbach album, and that was a huge mistake. Don't make the same mistake.

* I still don't really dig that Lana Del Rey album. So sue me.

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