Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Black Keys – Attack and Release (Nonesuch, 2008)

Rust belt garage rockers The Black Keys (Dan Auerbach, guitar and vocals and Patrick Carney, drums) are one of my favorite rock ‘n’ roll bands, so when I heard that they stumbled out of their vintage gear and vacuum tube filled Akron cellar to have their new record midwived by the eclectic producer Danger Mouse, I was intrigued to say the least. Originally scheduled to be an Ike Turner tribute project, Turner’s death late last year saw the original project abandoned and morph into a full fledged Black Keys album. The music on this disc is a very interesting combination of the band's customary blues rock, mixed with some modern flair. For example the eerie shuffle “Psychotic Girl” has some ominous tape loops and background vocals framing Auerbach’s soulful singing. This method combined with some tasteful organ also fills out “Lies” which has a atmospheric haunted loss vibe. It’s not all slow grind however; “I Got Mine” and “Remember When (Side B)” are pulverizing rockers, lurching forth from the same Midwestern auto graveyard ooze that spawned The Greenhorns and The White Stripes. “Same Old Thing” marries the rock stomp and R&B vocal style to some unexpected flute. This is an absorbing and provocative album, with just the right amount of experimenting and consolidating. Danger Mouse’s production accentuates rather than dominates the band’s sound and allows them to move forward while still remaining true to their core musical values.

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