It's safe to say that The Black Keys of Akron, Ohio, are now the biggest little band in America, able to make both the indie and the mainstream sets swoon with the duo's improbable mix of blues, rockabilly, glam and classic-rock swagger. Okay, maybe it's not all that farfetched that the long-running duo would strike such a chord with critics and fans, seeing that their songs seem to only get better as they progress to each new album. What used to be a small but dedicated following has become a large mob of frat guys and gals in deck shoes mixed in with record geeks in Converse, somehow commingling at their shows without bloodshed. Last December's El Camino continued the adventurous course the band had set back in 2008 with Attack & Release and maintained on 2010 follow-up Brothers. Poor El Camino came out a little too close to the end of 2011 to make it onto most year-end best-of lists, but no doubt it will clean up at the end of this year.
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