Black Keys: Rare blend of Blues and Rock

Michael Ford
Arts & Entertainment Editor   

    If Jimi Hendrix and John Bonham were still alive today and brilliantly decided to form a two-man band, they would probably sound something like The Black Keys. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have made a statement with their third album, “Rubber Factory” – they’re here to stay.

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   “Rubber Factory” is a rare blend of blues and rock that is rarely heard in contemporary music.  However, it is not a trip back in time — just quality, bluesy rock with a modern twist.

   It picks up right where their second album, “thickfreakness” left off, but on this endeavor their sound develops a step above their past outputs.

   The Black Keys have received inevitable comparisons with The White Stripes due to both groups being comprised of only two members. However, after one listen to “Rubber Factory,” you’ll realize the similarities stop there. Auerbach had his own opinion of the comparisons.

   “It doesn't really bother me,” Auerbach told Tim Cashmere at http://www.undercover.com.au/. “It's just that I don't think we sound a whole lot like them.”

   The most impressive aspect of Auerbach and Carney’s 13-track creation is that it’s filler-free. You are not tasked with having to skip around and search for the quality tunes, which is something that cannot be said about their previous effort. From the opening slow, hypnotizing beat of “When The Lights Go Out” to the closing brash, funkiness of “Till I Get My Way,” you are taken through an exemplary display of what rock music should be.

   The Black Keys’ undeniable bluesy sound is one of the glaring reasons they have been able to amass such a strong fan base. But according to Auerbach, it was not an intentional sound.

   “When I started playing guitar I learnt from the blues,” Auerbach told Tim Cashmere at http://www.undercover.com.au/. “I'm actually not that much of a blues fan, but just because that's how I learned it has to be there as a base because that's all I know how to do.

   It’s hard to pick the standout tracks in a musical achievement of this caliber, but I found myself listening to “Just Couldn’t Tie Me Down” and “All Hands Against His Own” slightly more than the rest of the collection. “Grown So Ugly” is another track that cannot be ignored due to its strong, vibrant beat. Personal favorites will undoubtedly be a toss-up for everyone, but every melody here is as radio-ready as anything I’ve heard in a while.

   An interesting track to note is their cover of the Kinks classic, “Act Nice And Gentle.” It has a country sound that doesn’t exactly mesh with the rest of the album but still has a steady beat laced with Auerbach’s trademark vocals. While not a particular gem out of the bunch, it will be a favorite among Kinks fans.

   The Black Keys have definitely found their niche in the music scene, and with “Rubber Factory” they have hit their stride by compiling a group of songs that come to life in a picturesque way. Regardless of whether you consider them rock, blues, country or whatever, their music screams with quality and will have no trouble finding its listeners.

Grade: A


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