The Keys’ most critically acclaimed album, Brothers found them fully embracing the Danger Mouse School of Sonic Advancement they’d begun with Attack and Release, even though Mouse returned for just one song here, the bouncy hit single “Tighten Up.” On Brothers, they didn’t tear up the playbook so much as update it with more instruments (organs, drum machines, whistling), more minor chords, and a much more controlled vibe on creeping soul songs like “The Only One” and “Too Afraid to Love You,” with its Addams Family harpsichord. There's a problem loading this menu right now.
Patrick Carney’s drumming leaps a mile from The Big Come Up, adding a harder-rock dimension to songs like “Set You Free.” The album was recorded in a single 14-hour session in Carney’s basement, and there’s no room for extravagance or decor. In early 2003, there was already a weird two-piece garage-rock combo from the Midwest who spewed chainsaw feedback and worshipped vintage blues idols. “Just Couldn’t Tie Me Down” marches with a second-line shuffle that foreshadowed more Southern-fried horizons for the band. Not stylistically, of course — and that’s where a whole lot of the weirdness is rooted. Craggy blues originals “Run Me Down,” “Countdown” and “Heavy Soul” mixed seamlessly with standards (“Leavin’ Trunk”) and covers of favorites (R.L. Absolutely dead silent.
It’s ever-increasing popularity (awards, bigger tours, even more licensing) vs. becoming an ever-increasingly easy target of derision. The pace feels labored on mid-tempo slinkers like “In Time,” “10 Lovers” and “Waiting on Words,” perfectly good songs that lack that familiar spark or intensity. Those lucky enough to have caught guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney in about 2003 with maybe 60 people in the room couldn’t have guessed that in five years’ time these two would be headlining Madison Square Garden. Explore releases from The Black Keys at Discogs. The Black Keys’ fifth full-length LP, Attack & Release, follows their 2006 critically acclaimed Nonesuch debut Magic Potion, which the Chicago Tribune proclaimed, “ a gritty, wild, minimalist masterpiece. All it took to refill it was the producer from Gnarls Barkley and Ike Turner dying. Prime members enjoy FREE Delivery and exclusive access to music, movies, TV shows, original audio series, and Kindle books. And sure, these two guys from Akron were not inventing a single thing.
There are those who would celebrate the Black Keys for committing to doing this their way and making it work, for the sheer fact that you can have blues-rock licks written in the ’00s echoing out over a field at 10:30 on a Saturday night during the summer. The kind of band that’d noisily and scrappily emanate from a senior’s beaten up car as he exited, leather-jacketed, having recently returned to campus after leaving to smoke. Find low everyday prices and buy online for delivery or in-store pick-up Some of those fans who go back with The Black Keys pine for the days when Auerbach stomped around on tiny beer-soaked stages, his shouts matched by bolts of shrieking feedback and Carney’s outright abuse of his drum kit. It’s the rare band that manages to pull off the reverse and force the mainstream to come to them.
Shop for Vinyl, CDs and more from The Black Keys at the Discogs Marketplace. Not everyone bought what these white guys from Ohio were selling, but if there was any doubt that The Black Keys were the genuine article, it was more or less scuttled when Kimbrough’s widow, Mildred, called them to say they were “the only ones that really, really play like Junior played his records.” The Keys were so proud they included Mildred’s voicemail as a track on their 2006 Kimbrough tribute EP, Chulahoma. Auerbach was an instant star, with his rich, raspy voice (the only real explanation being a Crossroads-style body switch) and his dual-action guitar—both completely untamed and yet in lockstep with Carney, holding down the low end while riffing on top. It’s straightforward rock music vs. the fact that Auerbach and Carney have, against some kind odds, found ways to develop their sound that have essentially turned them into a pop band. (Read our review of Waiting on a Song here.) The Keys at this point have cemented a faux-sleaze formula that cribs relentlessly from basically every single kind of American music, and this batch of tunes struggles to hide it. I mean, that’s true, but it’s also difficult to remember a time when, at least if you were paying attention to music publications of any sort, the Black Keys weren’t a perpetual presence. Plenty of bands through the years have altered their core sound—sometimes more than once—to better fit what was popular at the time. Again, nothing makes sense with these guys and their career, exacerbated by the fact that there shouldn’t be anything confusing about them to begin with. Attack and Release showed that Auerbach could write and play outside his established zone, as on slower, more emotive songs like the teary “Lies,” and the rueful, organ-powered “Things Ain’t Like They Used to Be.” Touches of banjo (“Psychotic Girl”), flute (“Same Old Thing”) and some arpeggios (“So He Won’t Break”) subtly expanded the sound, drawing the Keys closer to folk and psychedelic music.
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