Get to know rough-and-tough Black Keys

By on October 12, 2010

There’s something to be said for a band that works hard, doesn’t compromise and still makes it.

In the generation of overnight MySpace successes and one-hit wonders, a band that drove to its own gigs in a minivan deserves a little respect.

Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney of The Black Keys have gone through everything an American garage band has to go through. They waited nine years and put out six albums before they got on the radio. But instead of recording their music in an actual garage, they prefer warehouses and basements.

The Akron, Ohio duo (who take their name from the schizophrenic ramblings of a family friend) have put together a formula which has been successful in the past: a guitarist and drummer alone and a sound rich with blues and distortion. White Stripes anyone?

The White Stripes comparison to The Black Keys is extremely hard to avoid. However, when listeners pay closer attention to what the Keys are all about, it’s quite apparent they are doing their own thing.

The Black Keys’ music is heavy and soulful, characterized by powerful riffs and a drone long admired by blues and rock-and-roll purists. They play a type of music that stays true to what Muddy Waters would call the blues, while creating melodies that Hollywood producers want to back their productions with. In fact, The Black Keys’ music is so widely used by the modern media you have probably heard them without even knowing it.

You may have heard the Keys while playing “NHL 11,” or watching “Zombieland” or any number of TV shows. The Black Keys have made a widespread mark on the media without necessarily creating widespread success for themselves. They have created hype surrounding their music by putting out critically acclaimed material like their 2008 album “Attack and Release,” which included “I Got Mine,” the No. 23 song on Rolling Stone’s list of top 100 songs of 2008. However, with the release of their newest album “Brothers” in May, they are starting to get some long-awaited public recognition.

Playing blues-rock music in the 21st century can be a hard path to success. But that path seems to be getting softer for the Keys. In 2010, The Black Keys have enjoyed their first song on the radio with the single “Tighten Up,” and a sold-out tour with a stop in Chicago for this year’s Lollapalooza. Things are falling into place for the Midwest duo, who show potential for much dirtier, grittier blues-rock to come. You might as well hop on the bandwagon before it starts rolling too fast.

Photo credit: myspace.com

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About Reid Engwall

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  1. Stephanie

    October 13, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    This is an excellent profile on an excellent duo. It’s good to see an ode to real music.