Tag Archives: The Black Keys

The Black Keys

I was recently convicted by a friend for my “apparently unceasing love for The Black Keys.” Roger that. Makes me smile every time to think how much a compliment I consider her straightforward statement of fact to be.

Stereogum points out that the duo cut and put out a cover of the Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band (geek on frontman Don Van Vliet here) song I’m Glad.

The mp3 is downloadable on their MySpace (or at Stereogum) until Friday.

I hesitate to be so crude, but this is the sort of song you put on and ignore for a couple of minutes, only to find it has surreptitiously grabbed you by the balls and you realize you may have been holding your breath.

In other good news, if you live in the Cleveland, there’s a surprise first-come-fist-served Black Keys show on Wednesday. Check the info here.


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Record Store Day

Record Store Day is Saturday!!!


Find your local brick-and-mortar purveyor of shiny silver (and sometimes hefty black) discs-o-music in this list to determine if there is any performing, DJing, or autographing going on near you.

Examples include a Metallica meet-and-greet at Berkeley’s Rasputin Music, Collections Of Colonies Of Bees performing with many other acts at Milwaulkee’s Atomic Records, The Donnas DJing at Hollywood’s famed Amoeba Records, The New Pornographers performing among others at St. Louis’ Vintage Vinyl, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club performing among others at CD Central in Lexington, KY.

EVERYONE within range of an independent record store can enjoy goodie bags and give-aways.

And besides the discs you’ve been procrastinating buying, you can purchase a Record-Store-Day exclusive 7″ (two songs) from Vampire Weekend and a 10″ (three songs) from Stephen Malkmus. Oh, and in case you’re not excited yet, 7″es from Built to Spill, R.E.M., Death Cab for Cutie, and The Black Keys. Good grief! Find track listings here and here, respectively.

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The Black Keys New

The Black Keys‘ album Attack & Release comes out today! Huzzah! Buy it!

Download two tracks from it, or stream them from their MySpace.

A small article from Nonesuch quotes the band talking about their collaboration with Danger Mouse, “Now, at 27, we maybe just realized we had stopped being broke, and stopped being dip-shits, and we could learn from other people who make records … I’m more pleased with the sound of this record than any we’ve ever made … Rather than mask things in, like, a low-fi fog, we can make things sound big and fucked up at the same time.”

I’ve been waiting impatiently for this album, and so far I like it. It is big. It is good. But the new direction, using input from people not named Dan and Pat necessarily makes it different. This album comes from someplace outside of their growly souls. It feels like driving music, beatin’ it down the highway. The other albums feel like … well, see my review from yesterday.

I also like the way this AP article phrased it: “Fans of the Black Keys expecting another trip to a Mississippi juke joint with their latest release are instead headed to a Memphis R&B lounge.”

Get your tickets for their U.S. tour quick; those suckers are sellin’ out.

April 4 – Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR – SOLD OUT
April 5 – The Showbox SoDo – Seattle, WA – SOLD OUT
April 6 – Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver, BC – SOLD OUT
April 9 – Ogden Theater – Denver, CO – SOLD OUT
April 10 – Slowdown – Omaha, NE – SOLD OUT
April 11 – First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN – SOLD OUT
April 12 – Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL – SOLD OUT
April 13 – The Vogue – Indianapolis, IN
April 15 – Royal Oak Music Theatre – Royal Oak, MI
May 12 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
May 13 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
May 15 – Terminal 5 – New York, NY
May 16 – Show moved to the Electric Factory – Philadelphia, PA
May 17 – Orpheum Theatre – Boston, MA

Their tourmate is Jay Reatard, who makes great clean-the-house music (that’s a compliment). Kids everywhere would love his high-energy Brit punk if only they weren’t Adderalled into oblivion. Download three tunes from Jay, check his blog for videos, and buy his disc.

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The Black Keys Old

[This post is in reply to The Black Keys‘ new album due out tomorrow, Attack & Release, which rocks but does not grind; I want to explain the sonic difference between these two verbs. I’ve written about The Black Keys before (and I blog about the new disc tomorrow) because they’re clear geniuses, but this post is about the slow unfolding of their impressive body of work and provides context for understanding A&R’s slightly new direction.

The Wall Street Journal has a very good article about the nuts and bolts of their label changes and some of the production decisions, so I offer this sweeping review as color commentary to accompany that play-by-play analysis. I keep this post relatively link-free because I assume you can find mp3s if you want, including live cuts, that you can run YouTube on your own, and that you will buy their entire back catalog as soon as financially feasible.]

The Black Keys’ albums pull you deeper and deeper into the grind of a sweaty southern summer night.

2002’s The Big Come Up sounds like a greatest hits album. Concert-goers vetted those songs long before they were committed to waves or ones and zeros. The euphoria the performance of these songs provokes makes you wish you knew more about the pentatonic scale so you could understand the blues’ magnétisme animal. Certainly, the sound is of a time, a place, and a people. But as the guitar blisters the paint off the walls, each person in the room intuits: “This music is me.” And though you may not consider yourself much of a dancer, when Dan commands you to Do the Rump the instruction is as clear as the hokey pokey at a skating rink, and your body sets aside inhibition long enough to let your backbone slip.

Thickfreakness, released a year later, sounds like the second set of the night at this achingly good club The Black Keys have fashioned with their discography. Thickfreakness contains the songs best played after the tourists have gone home. The true belivers are left, who have accepted that though they thought Rock and Roll was their heart, hearts aren’t always the trump suit. This music is of the soul, and you feel it in your bones. The audience gravitates to the center of the floor, where the close air becomes indistinguishable from the prickly sweat and the bodies of strangers stay just a little bit nearer each other than necessary.

The lyrics of Thickfreakness don’t matter; it’s the Fat Possum Mississippi southern grind that dominates. The vocals, guitar, and percussion pop alternately, never in unison but always in sync. Your ribs start to ache from the bass or the emotion, it doesn’t matter which. The hootings and hollerings for the band that seemed perfectly reasonable after each somewhat disconnected (but killer) song in the first set are discarded now during Thickfreakness because this performance is channeling music to you and for you, not as a present but out of a necessity. The music must be made and you must dance in this unconscious late-night social compact–no thanks required.

The moments between songs gust cool air through the room, allowing a breath but without breaking the sultry spell. Eventually, you use one of them to tear yourself away from the deepening grind for a moment, and when you return, Rubber Factory is playing. The music revs up one more time to infuse the crowd with wildness and remind them of the range of which their dance floor doings are capable. This is the second wind, before the club starts to close down and the band sweetly begs off with Junior Kimbrough covers from the EP Chulahoma, some of their very best creations. Pairs of people drift off into the streets, where the silence is filled with the bouyant feeling that the night was perfect but may not be done quite yet.

Back in a second-story room the heavy curtains are pulled back to reveal the balcony, and the ceiling fan does little to disturb the syrupy moonlit air. The early morning night begins to burn. There is something in this room partially obscured by the luxurious, mysterious velvety purple of the 2006 Magic Potion album. Indications of recent body heat glow infrared behind the smooth hooks. Somewhere here in the lush guitar the wanting wails. The ride cymbal holds the tortured thread constant. The songs pulse cautions of seductions, of the danger and the desire–“love and lust / go hand in hand.” The flames of vocals, guitar, and percussion–this triumvirate melts together into a waxy pool featuring the warm fingerprints of all the many emotions that the blues can encompass.

By the end of the album I’m spent. Honestly. It wears me down and out with its relentless intensity. Which is why I couldn’t imagine what The Black Keys’ 2008 disc would be like. They couldn’t possibly push any deeper into the night; nothing sexier could be wrung from their sound than Magic Potion.

And the album Attack & Release is very good. But it’s the product of production, of other minds (and instruments) chiming in to alter The Black Keys’ sound. Instead of leaning on you, heavier and heavier, pushing you into a raw frenzy and pulling you into their devilish, gorgeous night, the songs are broken up into rockin’ bits like most songs. So though it regrettably doesn’t grind like their other discs, I look forward to driving down the interstate with this CD cranked. Maybe it’s the start of another Black Keys day.


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Radio Moscow

Radio Moscow rocks. This is the band that you want at the bar on your birthday.
These dudes hail from Alive, The Black Keys‘ current label, and it shows. Alive is sponsoring a gig at SXSW, with Radio Moscow and some labelmates. See HearYa for the full scoop and great links.

You can download six live cuts from a HearYa session here. Buy their 2007 disc for ten bucks and download the track Frustrating Sound here so you can get amped for these upcoming shows:

March 12 – Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
March 13 – Tulsa, OK – The Continental
March 14 – Austin, TX – SXSW – Fado Patio
March 15 – Austin, TX – SXSW
March 27 – Minneapolis, MN – 400 Bar
March 28 – Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club
March 29 – Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen
April 4 – Des Moines, IA – GDP

UPDATE 3/15: An additional date has been added: March 17 – Lawrence, KS – The Replay Lounge

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The Black Keys

The Black Keys roll out their newest album, Attack & Release, on April 1. I can’t wait to hear what Danger Mouse has done with the production of this disc. I didn’t love The Good, the Bad & the Queen, which he also produced, despite being a Damon Albarn fan through and through, so here’s hoping the production didn’t muss the Keys’ groove. I see that copies of DM’s Grey Album are selling for $100; I could perhaps make a living buying up all of those and Indio’s (featuring Gordon Peterson’s original of Big Hard Sun) albums and reselling them …

The Black Keys will be touring for the new release. But I wish there were more dates; there just never seems to be enough of these two fellas to go ’round.

Oh, except they’re offering four cuts for free download on their MySpace.

There’s also another tune out there you can get your hands on: Stay All Night, a previously unreleased track from their Chulahoma sessions, which means it’s a cover of a Junior Kimbrough blues tune. If you aren’t tracking Chulahoma, get on it. It’s named for the Mississippi county where Kimbrough ran an honest-to-god juke joint. The EP is all Kimbrough songs, recorded by The Black Keys on the lovable Fat Possum label. Stay All Night is on a fundraising compilation, and 100% of your purchase will go to very good charities.

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