Akron, Ohio drummer Patrick Carney and guitarist Dan Auerbach, who together make up the Black Keys, are reinvigorating blues/rock by sticking to the basics: the sound of a screaming, feedback-drenched guitar clashing with a kick drum that smacks you like the loud splat of a drunk's head bouncing off the floor in a smoky Saturday night dive.
The duo recorded their breakout 2003 album, thickfreakness, during one fourteen-hour session in the basement of Auerbach's parents' house, and its grimy, under-produced sound was part of its charm. Rubber Factory took two months to lie down, and while the sound is still raw, there are hints of a more mainstream approach creeping in. Auerbach's guitar overdubs are more obvious, and the country blues picking is complimented by a bit of jaw dropping pop metal fretwork. His primal yowl has developed a smoother, more soulful side.
The Black Keys are also writing tunes with real melodies. "10 A.M. Automatic" sounds like an outtake from an early Free album, "The Lengths" is a song of lost love, and a Delta-flavored cover of The Kinks' "Act Nice and Gentle" reminds us that the Davies brothers also dreamed of being Muddy Waters and Hubert Sumlin.
Check out this week's featured ad for Entertainment