I can't even remember them all (I think that Heroes, the one sparking this thought when I heard it, was an earlier release as well, though I'm not sure), but AWOL Nation songs are, and I think you realize how significant this statement coming from me is, of Black Keys quality to me. (Just in case you don't: Black Keys are my second-favorite band of all time, second only to Muse, who they almost supplanted as favorite band until Muse released some new killer stuff to recement themselves as #1. So saying something is of Black Keys quality is, quite literally, the highest praise I can give.)
Not only is it that quality, it's that consistency, too! Not to mention, pretty much a similar fairly hard rock sound as well. (That meaning: they place a lot of emphasis on guitars, frequently fast, covering a lot of different notes.) Even better? The thing sparking this realization was hearing an End Session song of the day about them, which reminded me that they are absolutely killer live. One of the few things about their sound which can be criticized (the gritty voice)? Completely and totally absent from live renditions, making them BEAUTIFUL. I absolutely love their songs.
The other thing I wanted to talk about a bit is a note on country music. This isn't something really specific to country music, I suppose, but country music is the relevant topic of the day because it's what I actually heard some of, so it's why I need to make a note about it. I heard about five or six or so songs today as part of work (I subbed today), all of them in a row, on the same station, with me right there hearing them clearly.
...And none of them were problematic, not as individual songs or not as a whole from having listened to all of them. None felt boring, repetitive, or mediocre. They were good. So when I say I don't really enjoy country music (see above, this is what I mean by not something specific to just country music), as with most genres, that is a generalization that I feel I need to clarify. A station which knows how to select their music well, I can actually listen to and enjoy.
This station (I think it's 94.1?) was definitely that type. It knew how to avoid the pitfalls of country music. But now that I think about it, I'm now thinking that my issue with country music may be that the majority of what I've heard and understood country music to be has been that it lacked energy. It might be talking about something the person is/was passionate about, but was done in such a manner that in the midst of dozens of songs written similarly, it comes across as monotonous.
...And the songs I was hearing today? Didn't have that problem. This country music, in fact, was pretty close to my preferred genre of alternative (rock), maybe with a little bit of rock and roll (what I grew up on) thrown in as well, a sort-of midway point between the two, in fact.
...That...might take some explaining. But basically, the music I heard almost all had prominently both a singer and at least one backup singer, maybe having harmonies involved (not sure on that), something which alternative music has but not in abundance yet rock-and-roll almost always did and which the country-as-I-normally-perceive-country doesn't. Then, you throw in bass guitar (muted a bit, like rock-and-roll) and percussion to get basically a band going. Practically the only strong difference between alternative (rock) and the country songs I heard is that they had the roles of violin and guitar switched, with the country songs having the violin dominant and the guitar supporting it. (Whereas alternative is vice-versa.)
This gave the songs multiple layers, giving them depth and dimension that rendered them very much worth listening to. If all country music was that good, I'd probably listen to it way more often, and actually be enjoying the experience rather than just tolerating it. Good beats, good rhythm, good catchy singing that was well-done, not just in one song but in multiple. That's how to do proud to a genre people outside it generally roll their eyes at.
And this sort of criteria applies to any genre. Electronic music, for instance, is something that I'd listen to more often if there was actually that amount to depth. Some (alternative) bands that have electronic music know what to do (for instance, MGMT I believe would be classified as electronic), and I listen to them. But most that I hear fail to achieve that multi-layered effect, and get the whole balance of energy wrong. (Too much, too little, too much then too little, you get the idea.)
Still, though, I know it's possible to make good music for basically any genre. There's even ways to do good rap. (Don't have an obnoxious voice, don't be just talking, have some sort of tune be it music or a second person backing you up, etc.) And I felt like talking a bit about that today.