Ohio’s Got Soul: The Black Keys

Combining gritty guitar licks with back-breaking drum beats and a voice that seems to echo the pain of the world in its every note, The Black Keys‘ rich but simple grooves meld the wail of Southern blues with a rocked-out jam to deliver us a much-needed dose of 21st Century soul.

Take a listen after the jump!

Back in 2001, childhood friends Dan Auerbach (guitar/vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums) started jamming in Carney’s basement studio after Auerbach’s then-current band was a no-show for the recording session. The resulting demo from that evening would land the pair of Akron, Ohio natives a record deal with Alive Records.

Their first release, The Big Come Up, debuted with great critical acclaim (for instance, receiving four stars from Rolling Stone), allowing the pair to ditch their job mowing lawns for a slumlord, and tour, write and record full-time. Realizing they’d hit one of life’s jackpots, Dan and Patrick furiously rehearsed to create their booming second record, Thickfreakness, released on Fat Possum records, which they recorded in one “furious 12-hour session.”

By 2004, they’d released their third record, Rubber Factory, which continued to launch their music careers even higher, with sell-out shows at bigger venues, and overseas touring. And in 2006, they released their fourth album, Magic Potion, and a lesser known EP, Chulahoma.

In 2007, they were contacted by hip-hop producer Dangermouse (Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz, The Grey Album), who asked them to collaborate with legendary producer Ike Turner for an upcoming album. But before the project could be completed, Ike passed away, in December 2007.

The band maintained their relationship with Dangermouse (aka Brian Burton), who later agreed to produce their fifth album. While Burton tried to convince them to leave their Ohio enclave for “better”studios in California, the pair refused to ditch their home-state, opting instead for a grimy recording space a few hours away, in Cleveland.

The resulting record, Attack and Release, percolates with ripe, simmering, tormented vocals, ignited by helplessly catchy riffs that hark back to rock-and-roll’s primordial southern inception–all twined together with Dangermouse’s grasp of supreme groove and melody. (Listen below!)

The Black Keys still live in Akron, though they are currently touring in Europe and Australia. But don’t worry, they’ll be playing near you soon enough.


To learn more about The Black Keys, check out their Website, here. And watch their “Strang Times” video here!

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