on April 19, 2004
At the risk of just echoing previous reviews, I feel that it is necessicary to emphasize what a breath of fresh air the Black Keys are. Well, that's an ironic way of saying it, becuase this album will have you feeling like your sitting at a table in whatever smokey, dirty bar the Black Keys are playing at tonight. At a time when Emo and other soft, cookie cutter "rock-and-roll" groups are dominating the charts, it's refreshing to know that there is a band out there that still wants to make music, not just money. The black keys are that to a T. They are all the hype. They prove on this album that two talented musicians are better than four or five uncreative hacks. In this era of subwoofers and bass emphasized music, you won't miss the lack of a bass guitar on this album. For anyone who either misses, or is sorry they missed, the era of Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zepplin, and George Thorogood, your second chance has come along. IF you buy this album, you WILL like it, if you like real music. You don't have to like the blues, or classic rock, or any genre in particular. You just have to like listening to two talented guys enjoy what they're doing on their instuments.
on April 19, 2004
The Black Keys are two guys from the American mid-west, hard as it to believe that only two people make this thick, rich audio gumbo. They play the blues, post-modern blues with licks of psychedelia and rockabilly, white mid-west blues, punk blues. They write original music, even though you'll swear some of those songs have got to be fifty or sixty years old. Can two white kids from Akron, Ohio play the blues with anything like conviction? Oh, yeah.
Patrick Carney plays drums, and he plays them heavy, the kick-drum thuds into your stomach, the cymbals are muted like they're coated with years of cigarette smoke from greasy clubs and roadhouses. This guy ain't a showoff drummer, he's a hold down the groove until you find yourself breathing in time sort of drummer.
Dan Auerbach plays guitar like he's stringing barbed wire, through an old Ampeg amplifier that is one gig short of meltdown. And he sings like he's done time in Mississippi jails, impossible, this guy is in his early twenties, where did he get the chops to stream that kind of pain through his voice? Can he write a blues lyric? "She want to get out the car, in the middle of the road, her screamin' and hollerin', it's getting mighty old," yup, he can.
This album reeks of cigarette smoke and beer and gasoline fumes, the whole tone reminds me of Exile on Main Street, it's gritty and earthy, three a.m. blues when the band is past caring about the audience and just playing their pain away.
So, The Black Keys, with a guitarist who sounds like he's channeling Elmore James and a drummer who sounds like an idling Chevy 327 with bad lifters are now on Fat Possum records, the real deal. Their music is thick enough to chew, it tips its hat to all the right forefathers(...).
on August 25, 2003
. . . scorching, HOT. The guitar playing is downright raunchy. This is an album of true love songs, many of which are downright sweet, but don't worry, there's no soft mush to be found. I love Auerbach's slushy vocal style and the content of the songs, and I admit to being a bit disappointed to learn that he and Carney, the drummer, are only 23 years old. (Maybe I'm just jealous.)
However, this is the real thing; these guys are no poseurs. They're both natural musicians, and you can tell that they've spent years listening to and loving a lot of great music because it all seems to be pouring back out of them -- in a NEW way.
The Black Keys is not white boy blues. It's blues-rock, and it takes that subgenre to a new place, though the band's many blues and '60s rock influences are obvious. The only criticism I'd level is that there gets to be a sameness about halfway through the album. But each song is a powerhouse on its own and some (like the first three) are absolutely brilliant.
Enough already with the White Stripes comparisons! There is no connection. Their names are reminiscent of each other, and they both have 2 bandmembers. That's the extent of their similarity. I love both bands, but they work for totally different moods.
on August 5, 2003
Whoever said that the Black Keys are like the White Stripes is going on the fact that both have only two members.
The Black Keys are on the Fat Possum record label, one that deals with legendary bluesmen like R.L. Burnside, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Junior Kimbrough, and Solomon Burke. It shows too. The Black Keys play dirty, nitty gritty blues, drawing from all of the aformentioned at Fat Possum. Thickfreakness was recorded in the same manner as any R.L. Burnside; it is very raw and rough around the edges. The Black Keys were going for this sound in their blues because it adds character and a certain element of, "wow, this is bad-...". Basically, it fits the label.
Thickfreakness isn't completely original, some of the songs are covers (including one of Mississippi Fred McDowell's). That doesn't mean it is not a good album--look at the North Mississippi Allstars's record "Shake Hands With Shorty". It won them a Grammy and yet almost every single song was a cover from a bluesman on the Fat Possum label. They took the standard blues and made it their own, something that I believe the Black Keys have done well. The singer/ guitarist has the voice of Warren Haynes and a true mastery of the guitar that the White Stripes simply don't have. The drummer is excellent too.
But now you're saying, "Wait, the White Stripes have blues too". They do. You will hear some of the same Zeppelin-esque sound in both of the bands. The Stripes are built on Zeppelin and punk, but the Keys are built on Fat Possum and Zeppelin. If you like the blues, Thickfreakness is just for you. If you're expecting something a little more punk like the White Stripes, you may be dissapointed. I think that most anyone who has enjoyed listening to the delta blues, Zeppelin, or the Stones should enjoy this album tremendously.
on July 25, 2003
I really could grade this album using 2 sets of criteria:
1. If you're looking a fun, mindless, hard-rocking disc, this is the one for you. These guys, despite being a guitar/drum two piece, sound nothing like the White Stripes. This is old-school traditional blues played by a couple young white kids. Auerbach is a genuinely good guitarist (something Jack White really isn't) and has a voice built for the blues: raw and soulful. Again, unlike the Stripes, Patrick Carney is a VERY good drummer - one can hear hip-hop and funk in his beats. The production here is VERY lo-fi - raw and scratchy.
2. If you're looking for an original, inspired album, look elsewhere. All this has been done before, and frankly, it's been done better.
As another reviewer said, if you're a big fan of 60's era British Blues, this is a good CD to pick up - it continues the trend started by bands like Cream, Fleetwood Mac, and the Faces.
on June 5, 2003
I bought this album based on a great review it got, and I now think the reviewer undersold it. This is the best album I've heard this year, and I'm not a big blues fan. It's hard to believe that this rich, blues/rock that seems to fill every space is the product of a 2-man band. Dan Auerbach is an amazing guitarist whose low-gear playing more than takes the place of a bassist. His gin-laced voice is the perfect complement to his infectious rhythms. While I can't find a B-side on the album, "Set You Free" and "No Trust" are particularly rocking pieces that will have you singing along wondering who needs 4 guys in a band. And don't expect any "my dog left me"-boo-hoo blues - this is a wall of sound with driving guitar and screaming vocals. Simply put, it is what all blues should be: dangerous and yet grooving. You'll wear out your speakers listening to this, trust me.
on December 18, 2003
I pre-ordered this CD, couldn't wait to hear it after playing the Black Keys' first CD, The Big Come-Up, so much I damn near wore it out.
Thickfreakness is almost as good. The songs are pretty much on an equal footing with TBCU. The playing is almost as good. What knocks off a star for me is the recording. I liked the recording on the first CD much, much more. It was more authentically 'vintage', to my ears, while the second CD has a more self-conscious lo-fi sound to it. Both CDs are definitely in the lo-fi ballpark, which suits this band very well. But there's something missing from the second CD. As if there's just one layer of grease too many in the mix. The mix is a bit drowned.
Anyway, I will go out and buy any CD this band puts out, just to repay the spiritual debt of having so much fun with the first one.
on April 25, 2003
According to one report I read, guitarist Dan Auerbach headed down to Oxford Mississippi to spend a day playing with T-Model Ford and he has been hooked on blues ever since. Auerbach and his drummer Patrick Carney are not your usual Mississippi Hills bluesmen. Both men are young and white and don't give you the impression that they have paid their dues so to speak. But that aside, their brand of Delta blues crosses any racial boundary and is as raw and good as anything else coming from the Hills. "Thickfrealness" is the pairs sophomore release and, if you haven't heard this band, it is will serve as a fine introduction to the Keys. The CD features a nice mix of covers and originals including the late Junior Kimbrough's "Everywhere I Go".
on October 25, 2003
Okay, so i was in a wonderful little used CD shop in Pasadena (Penny Lane) and i'm searching through the delightful selection when i CANNOT stop moving my feet and shakin' my hips- i hear this wicked muffled voice blasting from the speakers and i had to rush to the counter to ask the salesboy who this was. now i do not listen to much modern music, so when he told me it had recently come out- i was boggles. like a set of dice on the craps table... I could not believe it! They had that CREAM feel to them, which i am quite a fan of. and i suggest that you all should have this album because its great- and its an asset to any music lovers' collection. YOu won't be disappointed that is for sure. <repeats to self- sounds like cream sounds like cream>
on August 23, 2003
If all you can say about a band is that they're NOT another band (ie: White Stripes), then you have nothing to say. Judge a band and the record on its own, not in comparison to another band's record. The Black Keys are a great sound in independent music, and you should support them because they're a good band, not because they do or don't sound like another over-hyped band that has two members. Oterwise, your review (and opinion) holds no water or validity whatsoever. Do you really think the members of Black Keys sat down and said, "Well, the White Stripes are making money. Let's do a White Stripes album?" I'd bet against it. This album rocks and deserves to be in the collection of any indie music snob. Buy it.