By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
The raw rock two-piece the Black Keys hails from the Midwest — Akron, Ohio — but boasts a penchant for ripping the roots out of American music. It was a project that began in 2002 with the pair's debut album, The Big Come Up, and hasn't subsided since. It was a raucous offering that allowed listeners to trace the Black Keys' lineage to Grand Funk Railroad and Mountain, or see them in the same light as Foghat and Free or one of the many other hard-knocked British bands who sold us back our sound.
Those observations would be right and true, but would only tell part of the story. Because as grounded as the Keys are in the sound found among our mightiest relics, they don't so much repeat history as they stretch it to fit a whole new future.
Witness their 2008 studio album, Attack & Release. It was written after producer Danger Mouse tapped the twosome to studio up with Ike Turner, a project that never came to fruition, sadly, as Turner died before it could come to life. As such, the LP is at once a testament to what could have been, and what can be when a couple of rock-hard traditionalists are let loose with a visionary (Danger Mouse). Sure, the single "I Got Mine" echoed some of the Keys' best efforts, and "Strange Times" might have even surpassed them.
But then there was the album-opening "All You Ever Wanted," which is like a stroll to a swamp church. And the equally reverent "Lies," which builds a new "House of the Rising Sun." And the cinematically inclined "Remember When (Side A)," which haunts as much as Angelo Badalamenti. And the album-closing "Things Ain't Like They Used to Be," which is as winsome as anything from Waylon Jennings. All of these showed that when four-on-the-floor pulls over to the shoulder an entirely different kind of kick can be had.
It's all those kicks that we'll get when the Black Keys unleash the follow-up, Brothers, in the middle of May. And it's those kicks we'll get — delivered hard and unvarnished — when Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney take the fabled Fillmore Gleason stage this Sunday night. Expect loud in all its dimensions, and expect a fathomless depth. Mostly, though, expect to be talking about this show throughout the rest of your life.