The Black Keys – Chulahoma – EP

Chulahoma – EP (2006)


1. Keep Your Hands Off Her 2. Have Mercy On Me 3. Work Me 4. Meet Me In The City 5. Nobody But You 6. My Mind Is Ramblin’ 7. Junior’s Widow


Yeah, yeah, I know it’s all covers and there’s only 6 songs on the whole thing and they’re all by the same guy and aren’t all that different from each other, but what we’ve got here is some mean, filthy, sinister fucking blues. What Dan did here is attempt to rescue his cult hero, forgotten Mississippi bluesman Junior Kimbrough, from obscurity by doing this here tribute EP, thus once and for all making 40’s delta blues cool among Pitchfork hipsters, curing cancer and returning balance to the Force. He didn’t quite manage all that, but he did end up with something enviable—something that probably no other pasty white boys from Ohio have ever figured out—an electrified Delta blues record that actually sounds like the real thing.

“Everywhere I Go” from Thickfreakness, a Kimbrough cover, is a pretty good indication of the kind of stuff you’ll find here – a repetitious, foreboding riff, with lyrics and melody kept as simple and moan-alongable as possible. But the stuff here is… deeper. If that makes sense. Like it’s emerging from the bottom of a deep well in Mississippi or (as the cover art would have it) the barrel of a revolver, or wherever else the darkest corners of American musical history are hidden. Sonically, especially, there’s incredible depth to the production. It’s amazing how much Dan and Pat get out of so little. I mean, it’s still the same one or two guitars and drums setup, with a little organ or tremolo coloring here and there, but it never sounds like there’s anything missing. Like, they somehow make “Keep Your Hands Off Her” sound like there’s about 12 slide guitars going at once, but, uh, there aren’t. Dan is just that good at weaving in his lines in exactly the right spots.

I’ve stupidly never listened to any old Kimbrough records, but man, either that guy had a magic formula for making a riff within the blues paradigm sound cool for 5 plus minutes or Dan does when he’s playing Junior’s songs. Probably both. Because there’s no way there are more than a couple people in the history of man that can make this material sound as good as it does on this record. “Keep Your Hands Off Her” has the most here in the way of catchy melody (that is, it has more than three notes in it), and the sunny-sounding “Meet Me In The City” is the only song that changes up the formula at all. But who cares! This is your last chance to hear the Keys play the blues straight up. It’s also your best chance.

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