Chulahoma is the Mississippi hamlet where the revered but commercially unsuccessful blues singer Junior Kimbrough owned a bar. The Black Keys, two young blues revivalists from Ohio, thought it an apt title for a mini-album comprising six covers from Kimbrough's 40-year career. Like that other blues-ingrained duo the White Stripes, the Keys have a set-up of guitar and drums, with vocals by the guitarist, Dan Auerbach. Unlike the Stripes, though, they stroll along in first gear here, with Auerbach's drawl seldom rising above a spooked half-whisper. It is immensely beguiling, and authentic down to the creak of his fingers on the strings, but they rarely diverge from one chugging, lo-fi groove. Towards the end, however, they emerge from their trance, mix in some distortion and slam home a lyric about the wretchedness of pleading your case to an indifferent lover. Chulahoma might have made a better EP than a mini-album, but it's a nice stopgap until the band finish their fourth LP proper.
CD: The Black Keys, Chulahoma
Caroline Sullivan writes about rock and pop for the Guardian