ACL Spotlight: The Black Keys

The Black Keys are the highlight of this weekend for me. The bands latest Attack & Release is easily one of my favorite albums of the year and they are the only band I am going to see twice this weekend.

The Black Keys-I Got Mine [mp3]

The Akron, Ohio-based duo The Black Keys is well known for its concentrated, hermetic approach to recording, hunkering down with rudimentary equipment in an unfinished basement or commandeering the floor of a vacant local rubber factory to create terse but soulful rock that seems to have time-traveled into the pair's amps from some long-ago radio show. But guitarist-vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney now admit they were ready for a change of scene-as well as some company. So when they got the opportunity to work with Grammy Award-nominated producer-musician-provocateur Danger Mouse, a/k/a Brian Burton (Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz, The Grey Album), they agreed, for the first time, to leave their familiar environs. They weren't quite willing to cross state lines yet, though.

The Black Keys had originally been approached by Danger Mouse to write songs for an album he was developing with Grammy Award-winning R&B legend Ike Turner, who, in recent years, had been recognized more for his contribution to the birth of rock & roll than for the time he'd spent in the tabloids. That project would never be completed, however, and the 76 year-old Turner passed away unexpectedly in December.

With Danger Mouse, The Black Keys didn't veer uncomfortably far from the elemental rock & roll territory they'd mined so effectively on previous albums like their 2006 Nonesuch debut, Magic Potion, or their Fat Possum discs, Rubber Factory (2004) and Thickfreakness (2003). But they were definitely in a mood to experiment on Attack and Release. Dan explains, "We'd never let it all go before like we did for this one, where anything was game." The new tracks have a spaciousness and clarity that accentuate the soulfulness in Dan's preternaturally weathered vocals and in arrangements that oscillate between melancholy and swagger.

The Black Keys at ACL
Saturday September 27th
7:30 - 8:15 AT&T Blue Room Stage

AfterShow Sunday - Sept 28th
The Black Keys
w/ The Black Angels and Jessica Lea Mayfield
Stubbs BBQ - [Tickets]